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

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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.

The World-Wide Sushi Reference