How to eat sushi

So, how do you eat sushi, the quintessential Japanese delicacy of vinegared rice topped with raw fish and other ingredients? With your fingers? With chopsticks? Dipped into soy sauce; daubed with wasabi? One mouthful or two?
The only certainty, it seems, is that its proper consumption demands both etiquette and practicality. To put the matter to rest, we enquired at the top: Sushi Sawada, on Tokyo’s most prestigious intersection of Ginza 4-chome.

With two Michelin stars and only seven seats, Sawada is a shrine to this single wondrous dish -- and to straight-talking master Koji Sawada’s constant quest for perfection.

How to eat sushi: The hands

Sawada's technique for the perfect sushi experience:

1. Grip the sushi -- do not squeeze.












2. Roll it partway over.












3. Turn it upside down












4. Dip lightly into soy sauce.





5. Place whole piece in the mouth, letting the texture and delicate flavor of the soy-dipped fish touch the tongue first.




There’s a simple reason for inverting your sushi: the molded rice base will disintegrate if dipped directly into soy sauce. The rice will also soak up too much sauce, ruining the flavor balance.
However, if you’re lucky enough to score a seat at Sawada, you won’t be concerned with the dipping step. Like many top sushi masters, Sawada seasons each piece with his own soy sauce blend or a sprinkle of sea salt before serving, hence no need to dip.
“But the rest is the same,” says Sawada. “The fish should touch the tongue first.” Most mainstream sushi-ya (sushi restaurants) expect customers to dip, and you’ll find soy sauce dishes on the counter. Soy sauce is called “murasaki,” meaning “purple,” in sushi-speak


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