Advice for the Nigiri Novice

Carolyn Alburger | September 26, 2013 | Story Restaurants

Further reading:
Raising the Sushi Bar
Why You Should Still Say No to Toro
Advice for the Nigiri Novice
Selecting the Right Sake
A Visit to SF's Sushi Nazi

As supplied by Yoshi Tome, the owner of Sausalito's lauded Japanese restaurant Sushi Ran since 1986:

Open wide: “Nigiri should be one-bite size. The rice should be warm, and the fish should be chilled, like a white wine. It’s fine to ask for smaller nigiri pieces and less rice to allow you to try more types of fish.”

Don’t dawdle: “Eat nigiri soon after it’s served. The chef doesn’t want the rice to get cold or the fish to wilt. If the fish has seasonings on it, ask if you should use wasabi and soy sauce to season it. It may not need anything.”

Have patience: “If the chef is busy, be patient. If he’s not busy, strike up a conversation and ask him what is good today. Bottom line: If you respect the sushi chef, the sushi chef will respect you.”

Be reserved: “Don’t mix wasabi and soy. For nigiri with no seasoning, put a small dab of wasabi on the fish side, then just touch the soy sauce to the fish. Finally, eat the nigiri fish-side-down so you taste the fish first.”

Take a bow: “At the end of the meal, don’t give money to the chef or shake his hand. He should not touch anything but fish and rice to maintain cleanliness. To say goodbye, a bow or a wink and smile always works.”

Originally published in the October 2013 issue of San Francisco

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