What Makes the Best Sushi?

Did you know you should only dip the fish and not the rice into soy sauce when you’re eating nigiri sushi? 

There’s also an order to follow when eating sushi. It’s best to go from mild or light-colored fish before moving on to fatty or dark fish. 

Other sushi-eating rules to remember include not mixing wasabi into your soy sauce, eating pickled ginger in between bites to cleanse your palate, and eating sushi in one bite. It’s also okay to eat sushi with your fingers. After all, while it’s common to see sushi in high-end restaurants, it had humble beginnings as street food.

If you can only follow one rule, though, let it be this: eat only the best sushi. That said, let’s discuss how to find good sushi and why it’s more than just fish on rice.

First Things First: What Is Good Sushi Like?

First, the rice shouldn’t be too hot or cold. It should also have the right consistency, which means it should be firm enough to eat whole but should fall apart once you put it in your mouth. 

Next, the topping or neta should be proportionate to the rice. If it’s too big or too small, it will throw off the sushi’s balance. That’s not only in terms of appearance but also taste.

Last but not least is the fish. Out of all the criteria for the best sushi, this is probably the most crucial. The fish shouldn’t smell fishy and must taste clean.

To neutralize the fishy smell, itamae or sushi chefs sprinkle vinegar on top of the fish. Sometimes, they’ll also add salt to reduce the “wetness” of the fish. Keep in mind that sushi-grade fish is always firm and shiny, never greasy. 

How to Find Good Sushi

Now that you know what qualities of sushi to check, it’s time to talk about how you can tell if a restaurant serves excellent sushi and sashimi.

Here’s the thing, the best restaurant choice could be a fine dining establishment, or it could be a hole in the wall. The latter is more common if you’re in Japan. 

So don’t immediately dismiss a place just because it doesn’t look fancy. It’s more important to check the quality of the food. From the fish to the condiments, garnishes, and more, everything should look and taste fresh. 

Other things to look for include the food presentation, which is a significant part of Japanese cuisine, the friendliness of the staff, quality of service, and the chef’s experience. Note that sushi chefs train for years or even decades to master their craft.

It’s More Than Fish on Rice 

We hope your takeaway from everything we’ve said here is that there’s more to sushi than just a glob of rice and fish. The next time you’re going out for sushi, try to remember what you’ve learned here, and who knows, you might be the next sushi connoisseur. 

To learn more about sushi and Japanese cuisine, you can check out our other posts.