Why do sushi chefs make the sushi in front of the customers?

Many regular patrons of sushi restaurants look forward to having casual conversations with the sushi chefs. It might be difficult to understand for visitors who don’t speak Japanese, but sushi restaurants are the only restaurants in the world that customers can speak directly with the head chef. If you don’t need conversation, then the waiter could just bring the sushi made back in the kitchen. Of course they also want customers to see the beautiful act of making sushi, but there is no particular reason that the sushi has to be made in front of the customer. The technical term for this is “Exposed Business,” meaning that the chefs are putting themselves on display for the customers. Did you learn something new?


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Revision date: September 2, 2018

Is sushi eaten with your hands? Or should you use chopsticks?

Sushi was originally a food eaten with your hands. Even, for example, if you are in a prestigious sushi restaurant in Ginza, you can still eat with your hands. You can actually use your hands to eat the ginger too. Restaurants that prefer you to eat with your hands will provide an extra, smaller towel for cleaning your hands between sushi, along with the normal hand towel. Even then, feel free to use chopsticks if you prefer.


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Revision date: February 12, 2018

Some notes on chopstick manners

There are manners in using chopsticks that tourists may be unaware of. I would like to introduce some of those here.

First of all, it is impolite to place chopsticks on your dish in the middle of a meal. Make sure to place them back on the chopstick stand when you aren’t using them.

It is also poor manners to stab food with chopsticks and or to use chopsticks to look through dishes. Please avoid breaking up the beautifully arranged dishes when you eat.


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Revision date: January 11, 2018

Where should I grab the sushi when eating with chopsticks?

Laying the chopsticks sideways as if scooping up the sushi distributes the strength and the sushi won’t break easily. If you grab it in the middle then there will be too much force on that part and it will break in two pieces. Make sure to eat this beautifully formed piece of sushi in one bite.


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Revision date: December 4, 2017

Why aren’t the prices included on the menu at sushi restaurants?

If you visit a premium sushi restaurant, such as one that places piles of salt by the entrance for good fortune, you’ll notice there are no price displays.

There’s not even a menu. All you find is a slab of wood hanging down the wall with names of the daily offerings such as Conger Eel (anago) or Spotted Shad (kohada).

This is not a place to get angry and ask how customers can order without knowing the price. First time customers may not know the market price and worry about budget, resolving to pay with a credit card if they don’t have enough cash in their wallet.

I guess you could say that sushi restaurants that don’t display prices are accepted by customers as being more traditional, like the old days. But actually, at pre-war sushi restaurants, there were wooden panels that listed prices such as “Fatty Tuna: 2000 yen”. It was during the 1960s that they stopped displaying prices.

The 60s was the start of an era of high-growth in Japan. Prices were rising rapidly and sushi prices also went up drastically. At the same time, the business practice of entertaining clients was gaining popularity and suddenly about 80% of the clientele of high-quality sushi restaurants were these types of business groups, rather than individual customers.

In situations like these, if there was a sign that read “Medium Fatty Tuna: 3000 yen” then it makes it difficult for the business guest to order what they like, without worrying about the price. Considering the total bill, they may also order fewer dishes than they want. As you can see, this practice of not displaying prices at sushi restaurants was in consideration for the business customers who were entertaining clients, as well as those being entertained as clients. At the same time, the well-known “Omakase” was created, the “chef’s choice” system in which the customer orders a menu created by the chef on the spot.


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Revision date: October 23, 2017

So verhalten Sie sich in einem Sushi-Lokal richtig

Hier lernen Sie alle Benimmregeln, die nicht nur in Sushi-Lokalen, sondern in allen Gaststätten Japans gelten. Das Wichtigste ist wohl, auf andere Rücksicht zu nehmen sodass sich andere Gäste im Lokal nicht gestört fühlen. Rücksichtnahme – das ist wohl das Wesentliche im japanischen Leben. Bitte merken Sie sich die hier aufgeführten Punkte.

・Bitte kommen Sie nicht zu spät, halten Sie die Reservierungszeit ein.

・Bitte nehmen Sie den Ihnen zugewiesenen Platz

・Selbstverständlich ist es absolut unerwünscht, im betrunkenen Zustand laut zu reden oder andere Gäste anzupöbeln

・Aufdringliche Gerüche wie zu starke Parfüms sind nicht erwünscht

・Rauchen ist natürlich nicht erlaubt

・Wenn Sie Fotos machen wollen, fragen Sie bitte vorher den Geschäftsinhaber und die anderen Besucher um Erlaubnis

・Es gibt zwar keine bestimmte Kleiderordnung, doch es ist ratsam, sauber und dem Anlass entsprechend gekleidet zu sein.

・Telefonieren im Lokal ist nicht erlaubt

・Legen Sie bitte keine kantigen Gegenstände wie Ihr smartphone oder Ihre Uhr auf die Sushi-Theke, da diese aus empfindlichem Holz gemacht ist

・Sich all zulange mit dem Sushi-Meister zu unterhalten ist kein wirklich cooles Benehmen

・Bestellen Sie bitte nicht immer nur Sushi mit dem gleichen Belag

・Ein Ihnen vorgesetztes Sushi sollte sofort verzehrt werden. Optimal ist: Innerhalb von 10 Sekunden.

・Mit der Hand oder Stäbchen – Sie können Sushi essen, wie Sie wollen

・Um das delikate Gleichgewicht von Reis und Sushi-Belag optimal zu geniessen, sollte man am besten das ganze Sushi-Stück in den Mund stecken. In diesem Sinne ist davon abzuraten, den Belag vom Reisklumpen zu trennen.

・Fische und Meeresfrüchte aus natürlichem Fang schmecken in der jeweiligen Saison am besten. Wir empfehlen, saisongerechte Beläge zu wählen.

・Dippen mit zu viel Sojasauce ist nicht ratsam. Der Sushireis saugt die Sojasauce schnell ein und dann zerfällt der Reis in Klumpen. Zu viel Sojasauce stört auch den feinen Geschmack des weissen Fischfleischs.

・Eine geregelte Reihenfolge gibt es beim Sushi-Essen nicht. Sie können völlig frei wählen, mit welchem Sushi Sie starten und welchen Sie als nächsten essen.

・Ein echter Sushi-Kenner bleibt nicht noch lange sitzen, wenn er fertig gegessen hat. Sich nach dem Essen zu lange in einem Sushi-Lokal aufzuhalten, gilt in Japan als uncool.


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Revision date: September 5, 2017

Is there a certain order for eating sushi?

Generally, start by eating fish with a lighter flavor like white fish and move onto fish with a heavier flavor such as Toro, Uni, Japanese conger (Anago), and then Egg (Tamagoyaki). Finishing with Seaweed rolls at the end is a typical way.

The following menu is an omakase style at one famous restaurant in Ginza. Begin with white fish?

Marbled flounder (Makogarei)

Striped jack (Shima aji)

Golden cuttlefish (Sumi ika)

Akami

Chutoro

Ohtoro

Gizzard shad (Kohada)

Common orient clam (Nihamaguri)

Horse mackerel (Aji)

Kuruma prawn (Kuruma ebi)

Japanese halfbeak (Sayori)

Common octopus (Madako)

Mackerel (Saba)

Ark shell (Akagai)

Uni

Salmon roe (Ikura)

Japanese conger (Anago)

And Egg (Tamagoyaki) comes last, just along the general order. Perhaps the way this owner serves might have become common.

To maximize each flavor of toppings, have some pickled ginger or hot tea between different types of sushi for cleansing your palate. You don’t really have to stick to the specific order, though. It seems like having customers eat freely is the idea held in common by most sushi chefs. However, it is true that you won’t be able to taste the next flavor after eating something rather sweet. Japanese conger (Anago), Egg (Tamagoyaki), and Kanpyoumaki should be eaten at the end.


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Revision date: August 28, 2017

寿司店的礼仪

这里提到的各项事宜不仅仅是寿司店特有的礼仪,也适用于日本的所有饮食店。简单概括为一点,就是不影响到其他客人就可以了。请参考下列各项。

预约好的时间不能迟到。

坐在指定的座位上。

禁止饮酒后大声喧哗,干扰其他客人。

不可过度使用香水。

禁烟。

不可随意摄影。

不需要穿礼服,但是务必服装得体。

不可打电话。

木制的餐台很容易划伤,所以不要将手机或手表等放置于上。

不可沉迷于交谈,独自占用店主时间。

不可只点同一品种的寿司

目标10秒内将捏好的寿司吃掉。

用手或者筷子吃都可以。

寿司米饭和海鲜食材有着绝妙的平衡搭配,尽量请一口吃掉。正因如此,将寿司米饭和食材分开的行为是不可取的。

应季的鱼肉中富含饱满的脂肪,是最美味的。所以如有机会请务必品尝应季的食材。

寿司米饭不可直接蘸酱油。寿司米饭有着吸收酱油的性质,寿司不仅会松散开,过多的酱油也会盖过白身鱼肉等细腻的味道。

品尝顺序没有限定,可以自由决定。

品尝结束后马上站起来才是成年人的行为。不要久坐。


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Revision date: August 10, 2017

Is it polite to use Gari as a brush to apply soy sauce?

Using too much soy sauce spoils delicious sushi so make sure to only put a bit of soy sauce in the special dish. Make sure to tilt the sushi to the side and put just a dab on the end of the topping. Gari can be used as a brush to apply soy sauce to sushi rolls since they cannot be tilted. However, there are differing opinions as to whether this is a refined way to eat or not. Many people say it was basically made up by a publishing company. You just need a few drops in the soy sauce cruet. Actually at very fancy establishments the sushi is served with Nikiri so normal soy sauce is never used for dipping.


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Revision date: July 26, 2017

Which wines pair well with sushi?

Fermented beverages such as sake and wine pair well with sushi. Sake is made from rice. So it only makes sense that this would pair well with sushi – also made with rice. It is also the only alcohol that eliminates the smell of fish and shellfish.

On the other hand, when considering compatibility with wine, toppings that use strong seasonings like Nikiri, including tuna and conger eel with sweet filling, match superbly with matured red wines such as Pinot Noir.

For example, Bourgogne Chambolle Musigny, Cote de Beaune, Morey-Saint-Denis, etc.

White wines such as a lighter Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling go well with white fish flavored with Citrus sudachi and yuzu or squid eaten with salt.

For example, Bourgogne Chablis.

However, neither red nor white wine goes well with herring or salmon roe. The iron specific to wine is said to contribute to the fishy smell of fish roe.

In the research of one wine manufacturer, the factor that generates the smell of fish and shellfish is the iron (ferrous ion) found in wine. Wines with relatively low levels of iron such as Sherry (Spain), Champagne (France) fermented twice in the bottle, Cava (Spain) and Franciacorta (Italy) mature without adding sulfite, which prevents oxidization. This reduces the ferrous ion in the wine and the fishy smell is virtually unnoticeable.

Either way, the research of wine and sushi pairings is still insufficient and there haven’t yet been any reports of unexpected compatibility. If anyone out there has found a wine that does pair well with herring or salmon roe, please be sure to share that information with us.


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Revision date: July 10, 2017

 

 

Drinking tea makes sushi taste better!

Even if you order beer or sake at sushi restaurants, your meal will always end with a cup of tea. But if you’re going to go out for sushi, you should really start drinking that tea earlier instead of saving it until the end. The tea at sushi shops is far more significant than a simple beverage. Especially when eating fatty tuna or bonito, tea plays a role that beer and sake simply cannot fulfill.

The key is in its hot temperature.

Hot tea works to dissolve the fat left on the tongue. Traces of fat is left on your tongue when you eat fatty sushi. It covers the taste buds like a film, subtly inhibiting your sense of taste. It would be a shame to miss your chance to experience the full range of flavors on your visit to a delicious sushi restaurant. No matter how much you drink, beer and sake can’t do anything about this thin film.

But drinking hot tea dissolves the fat and washes it away. Tea can also be considered a type of preparation for enjoying the next piece of sushi.

Another fun fact, sushi teacups are bigger than traditional tea cups because sushi chefs used to man their food stands alone. They just didn’t have enough hands to be constantly refilling tea while also pressing the sushi. The stands used large teacups so they wouldn’t need to be refilled as often.


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Revision date: June 12, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions-Sushiuniversity

What is the appeal of Sushi University?

We are sure you’ve never heard of an interpreter accompanying you to a restaurant. Why does Sushi University go through the trouble of providing an interpreter? This is because sushi restaurants have an element that you won’t find at any other restaurant in the world. That is because they are the only restaurants where you can have a direct conversation with the chef. Sushi chefs make the sushi in front of the customers and in addition to chatting while the sushi is being made, they also make an effort to invite conversation that inspires thoughts of the changing seasons and make your experience memorable. Normally this isn’t an option for visitors who don’t speak Japanese, but our interpreter gives you this opportunity. This is one thing that makes Sushi University interesting and unique.


What to expect

The more you know about sushi, the better it tastes. Let’s consider the meaning of these words.

Fish and shellfish are worked with while they are still fresh and fixed into a state that they can be stored. This process was created for Edo-style sushi and has continued to be passed down for approximately 200 years.

These methods were normal practice during a time without refrigerators and the practices continue in almost the same way today. However, the purpose has shifted from optimum storage to optimum taste of each ingredient. In other words, sublimation for even more delicious sushi.

The techniques known as “work” on the sushi, including salting and soaking in vinegar, steaming and boiling and thorough pickling are commonly known in Edo-style sushi, but do you think about which work is applied to each individual topping when you eat it?

Just slicing up seafood and slapping it on some vinegar rice is not Edo-style sushi. It’s fresh. It has fat on it. You should think about the work put into the dish, not just whether the fish is sweet or fatty.

Sushi University offers plans that allow you to acquire basic knowledge of Edo-style sushi while you’re eating. After the lecture you’ll want to visit sushi restaurants even more than ever before.


Why us

Sushi University interpreters aren’t just translating the words. There are a lot of things that even regulars at sushi restaurants don’t know. This is because restaurant mentor is always watching over everyone and is in a position to answer questions honestly. The mentor normally doesn’t take the initiative to talk to people and it might just be the interpreter’s job to create opportunities for dialogue.

Our interpreters are able to do this because they are well-versed in Edo-style sushi and have a firm grasp of the basics of why each sushi dish is good and what work was done to make it so delicious. Interpreters who are not familiar with sushi get caught up in just the words of the interpreting and often don’t have the capacity to engage in meaningful exchange with the mentor. Not just anyone can become an interpreter.


What sushi restaurants does Sushi University visit?

This information isn’t disclosed until the day of the course. If students learn the name of the sushi restaurant in advance, they may search for it online and find mistaken information or acquire unnecessary preconceptions. The course is not about where you will eat the sushi, but why it is delicious and what Edo-style work has gone into the dishes to create that flavor. This is what you should focus on during your visit. Thank you for your understanding.


Can you provide interpreters for languages other than English?

In Tokyo there are very few interpreters for languages other than English. However, if you apply well in advance, we may be able to find an interpreter in your language of choice. In this case, an extra fee will be applied.


Can children participate in the program?

Sushi University courses are not overly formal, but participants need to stay in their seats for a period of time. Please consider this when making your reservation.


Is there a children’s menu available?

Unfortunately, the sushi roll dishes that children tend to enjoy such as Salmon and Avocado rolls and California rolls are not available on a traditional Edo style sushi menu. For children, the portions and number of toppings will be reduced and served without wasabi.


Is it OK to take photos during the lecture?

It is OK to take photos of anything you are interested in, such as sushi ingredients and knife skills. A sushi master has given us permission. However, please be careful not to accidentally get a picture of any other customers.


Can I book a large party online?

Online reservations can be made for up to seven guests. For a party of 8 or more people, or anyone who is interested in reserving an entire restaurant, please email services@sushiuniversity.jp with the name of the course, the date, the number of people, your name and etc.


What is the cancellation policy?

If you need to cancel or amend your booking, please let us know as soon as possible. No cancellation fee will be charged as long as the booking is cancelled at least 24 hours in advance.


How do I cancel my booking?

Bookings must be cancelled on the link included in the email confirming the reservation. Cancelations will not be accepted over the phone.


What if an emergency happens and I have to cancel last minute?

Cancellations are handled on a case by case basis and at a manager’s discretion. We will always be hospitable and take the circumstances into consideration.


Do your oils contain trans-fat?

Our oils do not contain trans-fat.


Am I allowed to bring my own drinks?

No, guests are not allowed to bring their own drinks under any circumstance.


Do you allow smoking inside the building?

No, we’re sorry, we do not.


What types of payment do you take?

We are sorry to inform you but we do not accept payment by credit card. We only accept payment by cash only.


How do I make a complaint, say thanks or suggest an idea?

Complaints, compliments and suggestions can be sent to us via email to

services@sushiuniversity.jp


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: January 26, 2018