The World-Wide Sushi Reference

Traditional Japanese food Sushi. Closeup japanese sushi on a bamboo napkin.
Traditional Japanese food Sushi. Closeup japanese sushi on a bamboo napkin.

Looking for sushi restaurants? The history of sushi? How sushi should be traditionally made and eaten?

Then welcome to the World Wide Sushi Reference!

The Simple and Concise Guide to Eating Sushi

Eating sushi for the first time can be a very pleasant and rewarding experience. But if you are not yet familiar with the terms and rules associated with this famous Japanese dish, it would be wise for you to take a few moments to learn the basics about sushi varieties, how to order it and the simple procedure for eating this delicious meal. Here is a short guide written to make your first or next outing to a sushi bar exciting and fulfilling.

Understand the Basics
Sushi has gone through an evolutionary process, but modern sushi is basically cold rice dressed with vinegar, molded into small cakes, and topped or wrapped with various types of fish or seafood (cooked or raw). Most sushi restaurants have a variety of dishes that you can order. The most popular are nigiri, sashimi, maki, and temaki.

* Nigiri: A combination of raw fish slices and a ball of rice with an oval shape. It is usually seasoned with a small quantity of soy or wasabi sauce before the chef sends it to you.
* Maki: Also called a sushi roll, maki is an attractive combination of cooked vegetables and fish rolled with rice inside a thin sheet of lightly roasted seaweed. It is cut into small bite-sized portions.
* Temaki: Maki and temaki are almost the same but the rice, fish, seafood and vegetables in temaki are rolled into a cone so you can hold it and take a convenient bite.
* Sashimi: Slices of raw fish presented on a plate without any rice. This dish is not sushi but it is commonly served in most sushi bars and it may not be the best option for an absolute beginner.

Several other types of sushi rolls are available in sushi bars in different parts of the world. For more details, please read our article on types of sushi rolls.

Learn About Sushi Condiments
When you order your sushi, at least three additional things will come with the plate: soy sauce (called shoyu), pickled ginger (gari) and wasabi. Wasabi comes as a ball of green paste. Traditionally, wasabi is made from the fresh wasabi plant which grows in Japan. In the West, wasabi is made from the dry powder. Pickled ginger is used to cleanse the palate after a few bites and it comes in thin white or pink slices. The soy sauce provided comes in a shallow dish so you can dip your sushi in it.

Prepare to Eat
Clean your hands properly before eating sushi. Wash your hands or use the hot moist towel provided in most sushi bars before you start. Many people like to use conventional chopsticks to eat sushi but using your hands is perfectly acceptable. In fact, you should use your hands to eat nigiri and temaki and use chopsticks for sashimi. Using your fingers allows you to have more control over the size of each bite and prevents the sushi from crumbling.

Apply the Condiments
If your sushi is already seasoned with sauce, you don’t need to dip it in soy sauce. Just eat it as it was served. Otherwise, pour some soy sauce into a dipping bowl. You don’t have to mix the wasabi and soy sauce together. You may add the wasabi to the fish directly. When you are eating nigiri, dip the fish into the soy sauce and place it on the rice. This will allow the sauce to seep down into the rice without making it too salty. Avoid dipping the rice into the sauce so the entire piece remains intact. You may also use chopsticks to hold the ginger, dip into the soy sauce and them brush the fish without dipping the fish into the sauce.

Enjoy the Taste of Sushi
Eat the sushi in a single bite but if the portion is quite large, you may eat it twice. Enjoy the tender texture of the fish and flavour provided by the condiments. In between bites, you should refresh your tongue with a small slice of pickled ginger. Finish cleansing your palette before you take the next bite of sushi. Ensure that you finish all the sushi that you order and don’t leave any leftovers.

This concise guide to eating sushi will help you to have a great experience when you visit a sushi bar. If you are eating it for the first time, you should opt for cooked ingredients. After you have eaten sushi a couple of times, you may order a dish with raw fish or seafood.

Sushi Restaurants in Sydney, Australia

Sushi restaurants in Sydney use top quality fresh produce to create amazing sushi dishes that are suited to both traditional Japanese and Western tastes. If you are visiting Sydney and you want to enjoy the best sushi dishes prepared by Japanese master chefs, you should go to restaurants that have been dishing out excellent sushi consistently for many years. The following list contains some of the best restaurants that can cater to diverse budgets and still give you an exciting and memorable meal.


Tetsuya’s is a high class Japanese restaurant and one of the best in Sydney. Located on the busy Kent Street, Tetsuya Wakuda offers a Japanese-French dining experience. Every sushi meal you take here is worth all the dollars you spend because there is so much attention to detail and the service is exceptional. In addition to various sushi courses on the omakase menu, you will also have a chance to eat scampi tail with caviar and frozen egg yolk as well as the uncommon wagyu tenderloin.


Located in The Star Casino Complex in Pyrmont, Sokyo is another highly rated sushi restaurant that offers delicious sushi in a classy environment. Sokyo has perfected the art of using the freshest produce to make tasty sashimi and nigiri-zushi. You can order both traditional Japanese sushi rolls and some Westernised varieties. Sokyo also offers one of the best maguro tataki in the city with amazing presentation that includes fat slices of fish, smoked ponzu, and edible flowers. You may also like to taste their grilled lamb and capsicum tempura served with miso and eggplant puree.

Sushi on Stanley

This is a place where you could eat so much food before you realise that you have not spent half of your budget. Situated on Stanley Street in Darlinghurst, this sushi bar is not a particularly classy environment but the food is excellent. Sushi and sashimi sold here have a distinct taste of freshness and the menu list is so long, you will have to keep coming back to sample the amazing variety of dishes. At Sushi on Stanley you can enjoy a plate with a combination of teriyaki chicken, tempura, rice, salad and miso for less than $20.


This acclaimed high class restaurant offers fish with superior seasoning and flavour on their sushi and sashimi menus. Although it may be a bit overpriced, the environment justifies it. It’s about the only restaurant in Sydney with a marble bar where you can watch the chef, Nobuyuki Ura, and his team of chefs prepare your meal. Located on the fourth floor of the establishment’s building, this award winning restaurant has a large number of patrons in Australia and other countries including Japan because of it’s commitment to providing fresh and delicious traditionally prepared sushi and sashimi.


Toko produces amazing dishes with both Australian and Japanese seafood. Located in Surry Hills, this sushi restaurant does not accept reservations, so you have to get there pretty early if you don’t want to wait to get a seat. However, you may hang out at their cocktail bar till you get a table. In addition to their first rate sushi bar, they also serve one of the best wagyu sirloin, duck breast, grilled scallops, and spicy salmon rolls in Sydney. The omakase menu has courses that you may never have eaten since you started taking sushi.

Sashimi Shinsengumi

Sashimi is a small Japanese sushi bar that can accommodate a little over a dozen people but the quality of service provided in this Crows Nest eatery is outstanding. Every night, you can order for any of the items on the omakase menu that contains up to 20 courses. Master chef Shinji Matsui is a very charismatic person who keeps all the patrons and diners entertained with his talents and expert culinary skills. So you can eat your sushi or sashimi immediately after it is prepared with the distinct flavours and textures. The meals here reveal the chef’s love for seafood and fish. Each piece of nigiri-zushi or maki-zushi contains slices of mackerel, salmon belly, and scallops with expert seasoning that tastes great without the need for additional wasabi or soy sauce.

These are just a few of the great sushi restaurants and bars in Sydney where you can order both traditional Japanese and Westernised fusion style sushi. These restaurants have maintained their consistent top quality service and they are highly rated by their patrons and diners both within and outside the country.

Alcoholic Beverages to Consume with Sushi

Sushi pairs well with many alcoholic drinks. Crisp whites, champagne and dry Riesling are among the favourites. Some local Japanese drinks may also be matched with the flavours that make sushi a tasty and exciting dish. Your choice of wine should be based on the type of sushi roll, fish and spices added to it. Traditionally, ordinary water or Japanese beer is served with sushi. However, you can pair wine and cocktails with sushi.

When you are pairing drinks with sushi or sashimi, choose flavours that will complement one another. Acidity levels should match the one in the food. Pair sweet drinks with spicy food and match similar textures or weights. Although you may need to try various drink pairings with sushi to pick your best match, the following options usually work.

Pinot Gris for Shrimp Nigiri
Pinot Gris, also called Pinot Giorgio or Grauburgunder, is a white wine with rich flavours of ripe tropical fruit. The Alsatian variety has a spicy taste and lemon colour with aromas of melon, apple or pear. Its crisp refreshing taste and citrus flavour serve as a perfect match for the sweet shrimp. The best Pinot Gris brands for eating shrimp nigiri have layers of crisp white peach, tart apple, Asian pear and citrus.

Grüner Veltliner for Crab Roll
Grüner Veltliner (translated Green Wine of Veltin) is a dry white wine produced from grapes that were grown exclusively in Austria. But now, Grüner Veltliner is also grown on the Adelaide Hills of South Australia in the Barossa region. This peppery white wine has stone fruit flavours that pair very well with the taste of sweet crab. With a distinctive pure mineral taste, this wine is capable of long ageing and it compares favourably well with many other world renowned varieties of white wine. For the best match, choose varieties of this wine that contain flavours of apple, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine and herbs.

Dry Riesling for Tuna Roll
When you order sushi rolls garnished with spicy tuna fish, you should pair them with dry Riesling. Riesling is an aromatic and refreshing wine with a crisp sour taste. It has a unique flavour created by the nectar of apples, peaches, pears and apricots. Dry Riesling is produced from fruity grape varieties grown in Alsace, Germany, New York and Washington State in the U.S., as well as Clare and Eden Valley in Australia. The Hunter Valley, also in Australia, produces some notable off-Dry Riesling wines as well but finding exactly the right pairing may require trying the wines first with your favourite sushi in mind. A tour with a guide that knows the region well is highly recommended as they can point you in the right direction if you let them know the type of wine you are trying to find and the types of sushi you are wanting to pair it with. Dry Riesling pairs well with spicy food and it will tantalise your taste buds when you combine it with sushi.

Dry Rosé for Salmon Roll
Dry rosé wine is a blend of multiple grapes. Grape varieties used to make this pink coloured wine include Carignan, Cinsault, Pinot Noir, and Grenache. Rosé is made in various regions of the world including Europe, South America and Australia, due to its relatively simple production process. Dry rosé has no sweetness – it is fresh and acidic without any sugar that may overwhelm its fruity/mineral flavour and aroma. Traditional dry rosé wines, particularly those from Provence in France, have a distinct pink colour that matches the salmon; and the salmon causes the citrus and tart cherry in the wine to come alive.

Japanese Beer
If you want to pair sushi with beer, you should consider taking a crisp dry Japanese lager. A good example is Asahi, which has a clean and crisp taste with a subtle citrus aroma. This super dry beer is one of the premium Japanese brands and it embodies their brewing tradition and taste. Another beer that pairs well with sushi is white ale. A good example is Hitachino White Ale, which is brewed like traditional Belgian beer with a complex flavour of nutmeg, coriander, orange juice, and orange peels. This popular beer has a light golden colour and it is the beer of choice in many Japanese restaurants all over the world. Light beers usually pair well with sushi. But if you want a different type of beer, you may choose hefeweizens and pilsners because they also let out the flavour of the sushi.

These are some of the best kinds of liquor to match with your sushi. Remember that many Japanese sushi restaurants only have their popular beer brands and traditional drinks. So you may need to plan ahead and take your wine with you when you are going to the sushi bar.

Quirky Facts About Sushi

Eating a well prepared sushi dish made by a master chef offers a unique experience that is quite difficult to recreate. Sushi is a wonderful, cultural and somewhat artistic type of food that requires several years of training and experience to prepare with outstanding taste and flavour. Here are some interesting and little known facts about this addictive delicacy called sushi.

1 Sushi is spelled “zushi” in Japanese when a type precedes it

When the kind of sushi comes before the word “sushi”, it automatically changes to zushi in the Japanese language. For example, the sushi roll is called maki-zushi, and nigiri-zushi is the type of sushi that has rice with a slice of fish or seafood pressed on top of it.

2 Maki-zushi Rolls are Creative Works of Art

Sushi master chefs choose the ingredients used to maki-zushi carefully so that the texture, taste, flavour and colour complement one another. Sushi rolls are made in one long roll first and then sliced into bite-sized discs so you can see the artistic work of the chefs.

3 Japanese named Maki-zushi After the Mat

In Japan, chefs call the mat that gives sushi rolls their cylindrical shape makisu. Maki-zushi offers the benefit of creating space to add other ingredients such as cucumber, carrot and daikon to give it a crunchy twist. Sushi rolls are very popular in the West but the Japanese prefer nigiri because it allows them to dip the edge of the fish into soy sauce.

4 Your Wasabi is Probably Not the Real Thing

Original wasabi is processed from the root of wasabia japonica, a native plant of Japan. It is not made from the powder or the horseradish that is often used as a substitute. Real wasabi has a powerful pungent effect. The burning sensation you feel in your nostrils is due to the antimicrobial properties of the plant, that kill potential parasites and microbes in raw fish and seafood. Due to the high cost of original wasabi, many mid-range sushi bars substitute it with a substance made from a combination of mustard powder, horseradish and a green coloured dye.

5 Nori Was Initially Scrapped From Odd Places

Nori – the toasted seaweed wrap for sushi rolls – was originally scraped off the underside of boats and legs of wooden piers. Mobile food vendors pressed it into sheets and then dried it in the sun. However, nori is now cultivated off shore and farmed over 230 square miles on the sea to produce 350,000 tons annually. Nori produced in the West is toasted to improve food safety while the Japanese variety is not because it will affect the distinct fishy taste.

6 Seaweed is Not the Only Ingredient for Rolling Sushi

In the West, we are used to eating sushi wrapped in nori (seaweed) but in Japan, chefs are more creative. They use various ingredients for their maki-zushi including eggs, cucumber and soy paper.

7 Fresh Fish is Not as Fresh as You Think

Regulations concerning food safety in Europe and the U.S. specify that raw fish must be frozen for some time to kill parasites and other harmful microbes. The EU specifies that all raw fish must be frozen for at least 1 day at a temperature of -20 degrees centigrade. Unfortunately, freezing fish can damage the taste and texture.

8 Nigiri Should Be Consumed Upside Down

Many sushi lovers recommend that nigiri, a slice of fish placed on an oblong mound of rice should be eaten by placing the fish side on the tongue first. Since nigiri is usually eaten with the hands rather than chopsticks, it is easy to keep the fish and rice together and rotate them.

9 Skip the Sake and Try Champagne

Sake is made from fermented rice so it should not be eaten with sushi rice; its best taken with sashimi. When you are eating sushi, pair it with champagne or with white wine like Riesling, or Pino Grigio.

10 Sushi Chefs Have More Fun in the West

In Japan, sushi chefs must prepare their sushi in a traditional way. But when they travel abroad to countries like the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., their personalities come alive. They meet people who want to develop a relationship with them and make requests for menu options that will enable them to maximise their creativity.

Famous Sushi Chefs

Every sushi lover will cherish the opportunity to sit in front of a sushi master chef and eat specially prepared sushi with exceptional flavour and aroma. Getting a chance to eat at highly rated sushi restaurants in Japan and other countries is a unique event because most high-end sushi bars require special reservations. Here is a short list of master chefs who make some of the best sushi on the planet.

Jiro Ono
Jiro Ono is generally regarded by fellow chefs as the greatest sushi chef alive. He is the owner of the Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 3-Michelin star sushi restaurant located near a subway station in Tokyo Japan. This 90-year old chef has served many famous world leaders including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama in 2014. Obama said the sushi prepared by Jiro Ono was the best he had ever tasted in his life.

During his 65 years as a qualified sushi chef, Jiro has created new methods used in contemporary sushi preparation. He encourages his guests to call him and make reservations in advance before coming to the 10-seat sushi bar. Ono also allows his guests to specify exactly what they want. An exceptional perfectionist with rigid discipline, Ono believes that overfishing will affect the availability and quality of sushi ingredients in the years to come.

Eiji Ichimura
Chef Ichimura, a Tokyo trained chef who is now well over 60 years, has been making sushi for about 40 years. He operated a top-class sushi bar called Ichimura at the Upper East Side of New York before he shut it down and moved to Brushstroke, NYC. He is now the master chef at Ichimura at Brushstroke the sushi-ya, which is part of David Bouley’s Japanese restaurant.

Clients have to make reservations in advance to be one of the guests that will sit at the 8-seat bar. Focusing primarily on sashimi and nigiri, Ichimura prepares at least 4 days ahead for the omakase chef’s tastings. Clients who make their reservations early can enjoy his delicacies, which include 2-week cold-aged tuna. Ichimura is a specialist in ‘shime’ (a technique for curling, picking and ageing sea food and fish).

Yoshiharu Kakinuma
Yoshiharu Kakinuma is the executive chef in charge of Sushi Shikon, Hong Kong, a branch of Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo, Japan. Kakinuma comes from a family of sushi chefs, which include his father and grandfather. However, his father encouraged him to be independent and learn how to make sushi from someone else. So he served as an apprentice under Mr. Yoshitake, a sushi master chef. Yoshitake took a special interest in him and offered to train him personally.

After completing his training, Kakinuma decided to expand his horizon and learn English, so he travelled to the U.S, where he worked in New York City and Atlanta. After a decade of perfecting his craft in the U.S., Yoshitake asked him to come and take charge of the new branch in Hong Kong in 2012. Kakinuma has since provided excellent sushi dishes using fresh ingredients flown in daily from Tokyo. He has also helped the Sushi Shikon to achieve a consistent 3-Michelin star rating since 2014.

Mitsuhiro Araki
Chef Araki is arguably the best sushi master chef in Europe at the moment. Araki, the charismatic Japanese chef at The Araki, located at New Burlington Street in London, shut down his Araki sushi-ya in Tokyo before moving to England with his wife. Araki was a 3-Michelin star sushi chef in Tokyo and is famous for his amazing skills and knowledge about tuna fish.

Every evening he unwraps a large chunk of tuna and poses for photographs with his dinner guests. He has used his innovative sushi skills to substitute certain traditional Japanese sushi ingredients that are not readily available in Europe. He uses white alba truffle and black caviar in place of clams and crustaceans that are abundant in Tokyo but scarce in London.

Masaaki Koyama
Masaaki Koyama is the most famous sushi chef in Tasmania and one of the best in Australia. After falling in love with Lucy, he married her and moved to Australia, eight years ago. With a strong desire to be a sushi chef since childhood, Koyama pursued his dream when he arrived in this warm and friendly country. He is now living his dream with his popular sushi bar in Tasmania. His bar only opens twice in a week and he sells out every time because his sushi is so attractive, rich and tasty.

So many Tasmanians had never tasted Japanese cuisine until Koyama opened his sushi-ya but now they have fallen in love with it. He began with tempura, vegetable and different kinds of Westernised sushi before preparing dishes with raw fish. Many Australians troop in from other states to come and taste Koyama’s sushi. Koyama ensures that he uses only fresh produce for his sushi, he grows his own vegetables, buys fresh produce from the market and goes to the sea to fish as a hobby.

If you plan to visit any of the cities where these chefs are serving, make a plan and a budget to taste their sushi. Take advantage of the opportunity to pamper your taste buds with sushi rolls and fish from the world’s best sushi master chefs.

History of Sushi

The term sushi was originally used for a type of fermented fish or meat, prepared for the purpose of preservation. Today, the word sushi refers to a dish containing rice marinated with vinegar and garnished with raw fish and vegetables. Here is a brief history that reveals the origin and evolution of sushi.

It is generally believed that the earliest form of sushi was developed in South-East Asia from where immigrants took it to China before it was introduced to Japan in the 8th Century A.D. At that time, refrigeration had not been invented so locals salted their fish, wrapped it in fermented rice and left it for several months until the protein in the meat was broken down into amino acids. Thereafter, they discarded the rice and consumed the fish which usually remained safe to eat for several months. Sushi, the fermented fish, was a vital protein source for the Japanese for many centuries.

Japanese liked to eat their fermented fish with steamed rice called namanari or namanare. During the Muromachi period (from 1336 to 1573), namanare grew in popularity. It was during this period that people began to eat raw fish wrapped in rice and eaten fresh before it lost its flavour. The emphasis shifted from preservation to a new method of combining fish with rice.

In the midst of the Edo period (in the 18th century), the Japanese embraced another kind of sushi called haya-zushi. They consumed their fish and rice at the same time and it was a unique dish in Japanese culture. For the first time, rice was no longer used as a fermentation agent. Instead, rice was marinated in vinegar and then fish, vegetables, spices and other sauces were added. This was the beginning of the modern concept of sushi that is widely accepted around the world today. Each region in Japan used a variety of local flavours to create the type of sushi that has been passed to other generations.

In the early 1800’s when Tokyo was called Edo, mobile food stalls and street vendors multiplied in the city. At this time a new form of fast food called nigiri sushi became popular among the fast moving city dwellers. Nigiri sushi originally had a small mound of rice with a slice of raw fish placed on it. Neither the rice nor the fish was fermented. It could be eaten quickly with the fingers or with chopsticks. It was during this period that the Japanese sashimi was combined with rice to give birth to what is known as Edo-style sushi.

After the devastating earthquake that destroyed part of the city in 1923, many of the popular nigiri sushi chefs had to leave Edo and spread to other parts of the country. Many of these sushi chefs stopped using mobile food stalls and went on to rent or build brick and mortar sushi restaurants or bars. Some of the most famous among them were Kenukizushi, Yoheizushi and Matsunozushi.

In the 1960’s, the Japanese economy had recovered from the adverse effects of the Second World War and their businesses were moving into the United States. Sushi restaurants also became more popular as they served the needs of Japanese businessmen who were resident in the U.S. or in transit. Apart from serving the Japanese, some sushi chefs attempted to introduce sushi to native Americans but it was somewhat difficult to convince people to eat raw fish.

However, as many sushi restaurants sprang up in the city of Los Angeles, some Japenese chefs decided to substitute some ingredients of the traditional edomae-style sushi to make it easier for Americans to embrace it. Thus, the famous California roll was created. The slice of blue fin tuna (o-toro) was replaced with a slice of avocado in a traditional maki sushi roll. It was the perfect introduction to sushi for Americans who had never eaten raw fish. From that time, more Westerners started to try out raw fish and continuous adaptations have been made to Edo-style sushi including ingredient substitutions and adaptations to suit western culture and cuisine.

Sushi has become very popular in the United States, Australia, and the U.K. because sushi chefs were receptive to the suggestions of Western consumers. Today, many chefs outside Japan offer both traditional style sushi and other Westernised varieties.

The Most Popular Sushi Rolls

One of the features that make sushi so appealing is the variety of sushi rolls and ingredients that are used in each one. Apart from the traditional makizushi, which consists of cooked rice, vinegar and some wasabi wrapped in roasted seaweed, many other sushi rolls are now popular. Since the California roll was created over 40 years ago in Los Angeles, several other sushi rolls have been invented to cater to the needs of both Western and traditional sushi lovers. Here is a brief description of some the most popular rolls you can find in sushi restaurants and bars in Japan and other Western countries.

Dragon Roll
Dragon roll is very popular in U.S. and other parts of the West. This sushi roll has rice on the outside while the inner part has either shrimp tempura or unagi and some cucumber. Outside, the rice is topped with tobiko and avocado. Some chefs and sushi lovers call it the caterpillar roll because the avocado can decorate and the rolls can be arranged like a caterpillar.

California Roll
California roll was the first successful westernised sushi that made it possible for many Americans to embrace sushi. Cooked rice marinated in vinegar is sprinkled with flying fish roe (tobiko) or capelin roe (masago). Within the roll, you can find a variety of ingredients such as cucumber, avocado, cooked crab meat, and mayonnaise. Some sushi bars replace the avocado with mango or banana. Although the California roll was originally created and sold in the U.S. it now has its own fan base in Japan and other parts of the world.

Rainbow Roll
The rainbow roll is usually prepared with typical sushi fish like yellowtail, tuna, salmon, or sea bass with the addition of fruits like mango or avocado. The inner part of the roll contains various ingredients like shrimp tempura, asparagus, cucumber, and other fillings that are found in the California roll, like crab meat and mayonnaise.

Spider Roll
The Spider roll has soft shell crabs as the main ingredient. To make this sushi roll, the crabs are covered with tempura batter before deep frying them. Chefs fill the inside of the roll with mayonnaise before adding the crabs with legs sticking out, to create the impression of a giant spider. Some sushi bars have created their variation of this sushi roll by adding sesame seeds, tobiko, cucumber, avocado and radish.

Tekkamaki is usually on the omakase menu of most edomae-style traditional sushi restaurants. The key ingredient in the tekkamaki is the lean tuna meat, which is known as maguro in Japanese. With a little wasabi seasoning placed on the raw fish, this roll is a simple example of what many Japanese sushi lovers want.

Negitoro Maki
This is another classic sushi dish made in many traditional Japanese restaurants. Its ingredients include finely minced bluefin tuna and leeks or spring onions. This roll gives you a good combination of spice and fish and some chefs add sesame seeds. It is a favourite of many lovers of traditionally prepared sushi because of the unique flavour.

Philadelphia Roll
Philadelphia roll is a westernised sushi roll that includes cream cheese as one of its main ingredients. Traditionally, sushi does not include any kind of dairy products. The roll may be filled with avocado, onions and sesame seeds while smoked salmon and cucumber serve as the fish and vegetable elements.

Futomaki literally means thick fat rolls. For the traditionally prepared futomaki, chefs add a variety of ingredients including shiitake mushrooms, cucumber, fried egg (tamago), dried gourd (kanpyo). Some chefs also add items like seasoned codfish, bean curd, bamboo shoots and avocado.

Toro Maki
In this highly priced traditional sushi dish, strips of toro (the fatty flesh from the belly of the bluefin tuna fish) are placed on rolls of rice. Due to the rich, unique buttery flavour of the fish, many lovers of sushi treasure this dish and they are ready to pay a premium for it.

Unagi Maki
For first-time sushi eaters, unagi maki is good dish to learn how to eat sushi. It is prepared with fresh water eel that is grilled in a sweet sauce. The teriyaki taste makes it a great choice for both traditional and Western sushi lovers.

Those are just a few of the sushi rolls you can enjoy at a sushi restaurant in Western countries and Japan. If you are new to the world of sushi, you may need to try out a couple of rolls made by different chefs before you can select your favourite sushi roll.

How Sushi is Traditionally Made

Sushi rolls are the most popular type of sushi eaten in the West. You may have taken sushi many times and wondered how the delicious rolls are made. The following recipe provides basic ingredients, utensils and instructions for making traditional sushi rolls. If you want to try out this recipe at home, ensure that you have all your ingredients and utensils available before you start.

A. How to Prepare Sushi Rice


* Rice – 500g – Use only matured short grain rice grown in Japan, Italy or California
Sushi chefs never use long grain rice because it is too dry to mould and shape.
* Water – 625ml – Ideally, you should make the ratio of rice to water about one to one quarter.
* Sushi vinegar – 120ml – Can be produced by mixing rice vinegar (200ml), granulated sugar (120ml) and salt (2.5g) in a stainless steel saucepan and heating it till the sugar dissolves and then putting it aside to cool.


* Uchiwa (paper fan)
* Shamoji (spatula or flat wooden scoop)
* Handai (wooden bowl)
* Sieve


1. Put the rice inside a bowl. Pour water on the rice and swirl the bowl around to cause any dirt to float on the water surface. Drain out the water, using your palm to prevent the rice from pouring out.

2. Pour more water into the rice. Wash it by stirring it with your palm, then drain out the water again. Repeat this step about three or four times till the water becomes clear.

3. While draining out the water for the last time, use a sieve or colander and allow the water to drain out from the rice for about half an hour so the rice surface can absorb moisture.

4. Put the rice and cooking water (625ml) in a saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Bring the rice to boil on medium heat. After the rice water boils, lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Cut off the heat and allow it to simmer for another 10 minutes.

5. Use the flat wooden spoon to take the rice out of the saucepan and then place it in a shallow container or the handai. Spread out the rice evenly without crushing the grains.

6. Add sushi vinegar immediately, spreading it evenly over the rice surface. With your spatula, gently cut and fold portions of the rice to mix the vinegar evenly into the rice. Take care not to smash the rice grains.

7. As you do step 6, fan the rice with the paper fan so it cools rapidly. The rice should cool down completely within 10 minutes and it should be throughly coated with vinegar.

8. Use the rice within an hour after preparing it and do not refrigerate it.

B. How to Make Maki-zushi (Sushi Rolls)


* Cooked sushi rice – 200g per roll for thick sushi rolls (futomaki)
* Toasted nori sheet
For Sushi Filling:
* Omelette (tamago) sliced into thin strips
* Tuna (maguro) sliced into thin strips
* Grilled eel (unagi) sliced into thin strips
* Cucumber (kyuri) cut into sticks
* Gourd shavings (kampyo) cut into ribbons
* Soy sauce (for dipping)
* Wasabi (for dipping)
* Sushi vinegar


* Makisu (bamboo mat for rolling the sushi)
* Bowl for vinegar water
* Chopping board


1. Put the makisu on the chopping board and put a sheet of nori on your makisu, with the shiny toasted side face down.

2. Prepare vinegared water (tezu) in a bowl. Wet both hands with tezu. Then use both hands to pick up about 200g of sushi rice and put it on the nori.

3. Spread out the layer of sushi rice evenly on the nori surface to create a thickness of about 10mm. Leave a small gap at the farthest edge from you. Dab the gap on the nori with some tezu.

4. Make a small groove in the middle of the rice and put the filling across the groove. Lay the fillings side-by-side and ensure that they are not excessively moist.

5. Start rolling the makisu gradually from the farthest edge and use your fingers to stop the fillings from getting displaced. Press down on the makisu slightly without allowing the rice to come out from the sides.

6. When the makisu has nearly enveloped your sushi completely, pull the end out so that it does not roll up with the sushi. Hold the makisu around the sushi and pull out the second end gently.

7. Press the sides of the sushi roll gently with your fingers and flatten it to completely take out the makisu.

8. Dip a sharp knife into the tezu and cut the long sushi roll into two. Place the two halves beside each other and cut both halves into two again. Always use a steady sawing motion to cut the sushi roll.

9. Serve the sushi rolls immediately after you finish cutting them.


Making sushi rolls with this basic procedure requires some practice to obtain optimum results. You may substitute some of the filling ingredients to give you a richer or more flavourful sushi roll.

Popular Fish Types Used to Make Sushi

Most of the fish used for the original Edo style sushi are salt water fishes. Sushi chefs usually add these types of fish to their omakase menu during their individual seasons. It gives you the opportunity to taste them fresh and enjoy their unique texture, flavour and aroma. Here are some of the most popular fish used to make sushi in Japan and other countries around the world.

Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin tuna is a highly prized fish used in traditional Japanese raw fish delicacies like sushi and sashimi. In fact, only 20 percent of the Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tunas are consumed outside Japan. The Japanese have been eating bluefin tuna sushi since the mid 19th century when a chef marinated some pieces with soy sauce and called it “nigiri sushi”.

Today, sushi chefs serve three different cuts of this fish: akami, chu-toro and o-toro. Akami is the red meat that is at the top or back of it. Chu-toro is the milky-pink marbled meat located in the belly of the fish and it has a rich buttery texture. O-toro is the most popular part of the fish found at the fattiest portion of the belly and it melts in the tongue. Due to the popularity of bluefin tuna in Japan, which has led to overfishing of this tuna species, the fish has now been classified as an endangered species. Other kinds of tuna used in sushi dishes with a milder flavour are yellowfin tuna and big-eye tuna.

Japanese Amberjack or Yellowtail (Hamachi)
This fish is a seasonal favourite in the cold months when its meat has high fat content. Eaten cooked or raw, this fish has a buttery texture with a bold tangy flavour. In Japan over 120,000 tones of yellowtail are farmed and sold locally every year. When the fish weigh about 3 kilograms, they are harvested and sold as hamachi while others are left to grow bigger till they attain a weight of 5 kilograms. The larger yellowtails are called buri. American sushi chefs believe that yellowtail is better for nigiri or sashimi because the marbled fat gives a versatile flavour profile that can produce a dish that is spicy, salty, and rich.

Salmon is the fish of choice for making nigiri sushi rolls. It has a rich and flavourful taste and its flesh could appear as deep red or peachy orange. Many sushi lovers insist on salmon even when they are presented with several other fish options. So it is almost impossible to find a sushi restaurant that does not serve it. Wild salmon has several health benefits. Its flesh offers nourishing protein and two types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA, which the body cannot produce by itself.

Mackerel (Saba)
Mackerel is a shiny fish that has a strong fishy flavour and aroma. It is quite popular in Japan and it is commonly served as mackerel sushi. Although many westerners tend to dislike its strong flavour, it is a very healthy fish that is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. It has the longest history in edomae-style sushi. Traditionally trained Japanese sushi chefs serve four different types of mackerel: saba, which is cured for hours with vinegar and salt; Spanish mackerel (sawara), a large variety with a whiter colour; horse mackerel (aji), a small variety with a lighter flavour and mackerel pike (sanma), a recent addition to the sushi menu in many Japanese restaurants.

Halibut (Hirame or Engawa)
Halibut has a light and delicate taste and it is used for sushi and sashimi in Japan. It is prepared fresh, aged by chilling it in a refrigerator for some hours, or through a method called “kobujime”, which involves grilling and dunking it in a bowl of ice. In Japanese, engawa is the thin muscle found at the dorsal fin on the side of the fish. It has a higher amount of fat than the other flesh of halibut with a soft and chewy texture and a distinct concentrated flavour. Usually, halibut is seasoned with grated radish, sliced scallions, chilli pepper and citrus soy sauce.

Albacore (Binncho or Bintoro)
Albacore is a relatively small member of the tuna family. But it is not found in large quantities in Japanese coastal waters so it only became a popular sushi fish in recent times. Albacore lives in the warmer parts of the sea so it has flaky, soft and buttery flesh and a milder taste compared to bluefin tuna. Expert sushi chefs use a method called tataki to increase the concentration of the flavour. They grill it quickly, cook the surface and then dunk it in ice water to tighten up the flesh. It is now a popular sushi fish and it is commonly marketed as bintoro.

Now that you have a list of the popular fish varieties used to prepare sushi in restaurants in Japan and other parts of the world, you can easily make up your mind about the type of fish you want to have with your next sushi dish. Bear in mind that due to seasonal variations, some fish may not be available in sushi restaurants throughout the year.

Foods Other Than Fish Used In Sushi

Undoubtedly, fish is one of the most important ingredients in any sushi dish. But there are other sushi ingredients that provide unique flavours and make it an exciting dish. The following items are part of most sushi dishes prepared in Japan and other countries.

Sushi rice is the most vital ingredient in good sushi after the fish. In Japan and other countries in the West, sushi rice is prepared by cooking top grade Japanese short grain or medium grain white rice. The short grain is the preferred variety. While the rice is still hot, it is mixed with sugar, salt and rice vinegar. Unfortunately, not just any type of rice is suitable for making sushi rice. Locally grown short grain rice, which is called Japonica rice or uruchimai in Japanese, produces excellent results. The most popular variety is called Koshihikari; its sticky texture makes it more convenient to pick it up with chopsticks. Sushi rice is also grown in large quantities in Australia. In the U.S., many sushi chefs use Calrose – a medium grain rice grown in California.

Rice Vinegar (Komezu)
Rice vinegar combines with salt and sugar to give the tart and sweet flavour that we enjoy in sushi rice. Japanese vinegar is made from a blend of maize, wheat and rice and it is less acidic than the fruit based vinegar brands that many people in Western countries have in their homes. Komezu comes as a pale yellow or colourless liquid with about 5% acidity. Vinegar has certain health benefits including blood pressure regulation.

Wasabi is one of the condiments served with sushi in Japanese restaurants. Made from the root of the wasabi plant, it has a strong pungent flavour, which may seem a bit hot because it tends to burn the nostrils. Wasabi grows naturally on strange topography such as the gravel beds of the mountain streams in Japan and this limits its supply. Due to the high demand for wasabi, many chefs have to import it from China, Taiwan and New Zealand.

Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is another condiment that is served with sushi. Soy sauce is produced from boiled soybean paste and mixed other ingredients such as brine, roasted rice, wheat or barley and aspergillus sojae or aspergillus oryzae moulds and yeast. The last two ingredients speed up the fermentation process. After the mixture has fermented for several months, it is pressed, strained, and packed in bottles. It usually has a dark brown colour and salty flavour. Sushi master chefs often add an optimal amount of soy sauce to your sushi. But if you want more while eating sushi, you may dip the side of fish into a little soy sauce.

Ginger (Gari)
Sushi ginger is served with sushi to cleanse the pallet before or in between bites. This prepares the taste buds for another bite of sushi. It is similar to eating a cracker in between wine tasting sessions. Cleansing the taste buds helps to neutralize the pallet and allow you to enjoy the diverse flavours and textures of the food. Sushi chefs prepare ginger by cutting young and tender ginger roots into small slices. The thin slices are then pickled in a solution of sugar and vinegar.

In Japan, nori is a dried seaweed sheet produced from a variety of red algae known as porphyra. Nori is the crispy outer sheet used to hold the rice and other ingredients used in sushi rolls. It is produced in large quantities in Japan and China. After harvesting the algae from the sea, it is washed, shredded, framed, heated and rolled into sheets. The premium quality nori are sold as a black opaque sheet while the lower quality ones are green and transparent. Nori has many health benefits including weight loss and longevity.

Cucumbers are clean, crisp, refreshing and healthy vegetables. They are used in sushi more than any other type of vegetable. Their texture makes them a good addition to virtually all types of sushi. Cucumbers used for sushi can be grouped into two: those that require de-seeding and peeling and those that do not. The second category is preferred by most chefs because they are easier to use and they save preparation time. However, they offer a little less flavour than the first type.

Those are the basic non-fish ingredients that are used in making traditional style sushi. You should note that some chefs can substitute some of them or add other ingredients to bring in more flavours and cater to the needs of people who want sushi with a different taste or with a lower calorie count.

Calorie Conscious Sushi Options

Anyone who likes to eat whole foods will appreciate sushi rolls because they are tasty and satisfying. However some sushi options offer a high-calorie count while others are quite low without sacrificing flavour and overall satisfaction. Most low-calorie options are simple, traditional, or vegetarian. Here are some ideas and tips for eating healthier sushi that will give you wholesome nutrition and great taste within a reasonable calorie budget.

Opt for Veggies
Delicious vegetarian sushi rolls provide healthy fats with a calorie count that is less than 200. A six-piece cucumber roll or an avocado roll does not offer more than 140 calories unlike a tuna roll that provides over 180 calories. In addition, fresh pickled vegetables provide vitamins A, C, and E and you can obtain minerals like calcium, zinc and iodine and good dietary fibre from the seaweed roll. Vegetables also tend to fill you up faster because of their fibre so you will feel satisfied after taking fewer rolls, particularly when you compare the vegan rolls to those with raw fish.

Try the California Roll
The California roll is one of the most popular sushi rolls in the West and you can also find it in many sushi bars in Japan. In this roll, the raw fish is replaced with avocado. It only contains about 255 calories, which is fair enough for most people who are watching their calorie intake. To reduce the calories further, you may ask the chef to do away with the mayonnaise or make it a completely vegetarian roll by replacing the crab meat with carrots. You may also decide to add some variety by replacing the avocado with mango or banana.

Swap the White Rice
White rice is a major contributor of calories in traditional sushi rolls. You can replace it with a healthier alternative like brown rice or another whole grain product like soba. Brown rice contains a lot of fibre which enhances healthy digestion and improves bowel movements. It also serves as a good source of minerals like magnesium, manganese and selenium – a powerful antioxidant that also improves your mood. If you don’t like brown rice, you can replace the rice with soba noodles. Soba is made from whole grain buckwheat and it has a higher percentage of fibre and protein than white rice.

Take Sashimi without Rice
Another effective way to reduce calories when you take sushi is by eliminating the rice completely. Rice is a major contributor of weight in sushi rolls and eating sashimi will allow you to cut out a significant amount of calories. A single piece will only provide about 33 calories. You can dab it with wasabi and dip it in a little soy sauce to add more flavour. If you don’t like the idea of eating raw fish, you may ask the chef to steam or grill your fish for you. However, you must eat fish that contains a low proportion of fat if you want to enjoy the lower calorie benefits of sashimi. In this case salmon will be a better alternative.

Enjoy Shrimp without Tempura
Many Westerners enjoy eating tempura. But tempura is produced by deep frying so it is not a very healthy option. A typical shrimp tempura roll contains about 508 calories and over 20 grams of fat, which is equivalent to what you will get in a hamburger at McDonald’s. Instead of consuming the usual deep-fried roll, opt for a low-calorie alternative with steamed shrimps. Let the chef add some cucumber or pickled radish. Similarly, you should avoid other types of rolls designed to suit the taste of Westerners like the Philadelphia roll that contains smoked salmon and cream cheese. This high-calorie roll offers about 400 to 500 calories.

Eating sushi with a knowledge of the calorie estimates will enable you to enjoy the richness of this dish, get wholesome nutrition and still maintain a healthy weight. Replacing the fish and seafood with vegetarian options is a good way to reduce calories, increase your dietary fibre and obtain several minerals and vitamins. The white rice in traditional sushi rolls may also be replaced with healthier options like brown rice or soba. Avoiding fatty and high-calorie ingredients like mayonnaise and deep fried shrimps will drastically reduce the amount of calories you consume in your sushi.

Do’s and Don’ts When Eating Sushi

To enjoy every sushi dish you order at a Japanese restaurant, there are some important do’s and don’ts you should follow. Whether you are eating traditional edo-style sushi or the fusion style sushi prepared in the West, you should comply with these simple rules gleaned from experience and research.


Do ask questions and be friendly

Sushi chefs love it when you ask questions about their knives, headbands, experience, background and cooking style. Relate with them courteously without asking about things like freshness of food ingredients, which is usually regarded as an insult.

Do wipe off and clean your hands with the towel

Servers or chefs place hot moist towels on the table for you to clean your hands. Sushi is meant to be eaten with hands and chopsticks. So take a few moments to clean and refresh your hands before you start eating.

Do look out for cleanliness

Master sushi chefs and their staff clean out their restaurants a couple of times each day. That is why they look very clean and polished. If you walk into a sushi bar and it is dirty or untidy, it is better not to eat there. The appearance gives a clue of how the food will be prepared.

Do trust the chef

Well trained traditional sushi chefs can craft a menu for you in real time. So order for something on the omakase course and the chef will create a menu that you will enjoy. But always state what should not be added to your dish, especially if you dislike certain flavours or fish.

Do eat your sushi immediately

The best time to eat your sushi is immediately after the chef gives it to you. The fat in the fish and the rice taste great when they are warm. Don’t let it sit there for several minutes, you won’t be able to taste all the flavours and appreciate the aroma that the chef has created.

Do try other types of sushi

Endeavour to move out of your comfort zone. If you always eat salmon or tuna, try albacore, yellowtail, eel, uni, ankimo or monkfish liver. You may also like to taste the delicious jellyfish. If you are not sure, research the experiences of those who have eaten it at a top sushi restaurant.


Don’t fill the cup with plenty of soy sauce

You don’t need to add so much sauce to your sushi, a little touch will do. Trust the chef, he would have put in so much effort to ensure that it gives you the taste, texture and flavour that you will enjoy. If think you need a little more, dip the side of the fish, don’t put the rice into the sauce.

Don’t place ginger on the sushi

Use the ginger to cleanse your palate in between bites of sushi. The ginger is meant to help you enjoy the unique flavour and aroma in each piece or roll of sushi. Similarly, you don’t have to use a lot of wasabi because it overpowers the seasoning and taste of the fish.

Don’t eat at a bar that has a fishy smell

If a sushi restaurant smells like fish, it should serve as a red flag. No matter how much fish is processed there, it should smell like the ocean or salt water you enjoy at the beach. If you perceive a strong fishy smell, it means the fish is simply stale or spoilt.

Don’t order a heavy meal first

When you get to a sushi bar, eat a light starter like nigiri or sashimi. Then take some heavier food at the end. You should strive to taste as many flavours as possible so avoid ordering for a large number of rolls or a steak, which will fill you up fast.

Don’t rub your chopsticks

In addition to being a sign of rudeness, rubbing chopsticks together makes it look as if they are poor quality and you are trying to test them. Trust the chef and you won’t get any splinters if you use the chopsticks correctly. If you have any fears, ask the waiters to help you.

Don’t get scared of a rousing welcome

Many sushi restaurants have a tradition of welcoming diner guests with a loud shout. So if you hear the chefs and servers shout “irasshaimase” as you come in, don’t be afraid. It is their way of welcoming you and showing you how much they appreciate your coming to dine in their restaurant.