Sushi is a Japanese delicacy that has become increasingly popular worldwide. However, for beginners, the task of ordering sushi can be intimidating. With so many options and unfamiliar terminology, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. In this article, we will guide you through the process of ordering sushi step by step.

As sushi is becoming more popular all around the world, many people are eager to try it, but are unsure about how to properly order it. Ordering sushi can be a daunting experience, especially for beginners who may not be familiar with its unique terminology and etiquette. In this article, we will provide some advice on how to confidently order sushi like a pro, even if it’s your first time at a sushi restaurant.

Understanding the Terminology

Before we dive into the ordering process, let’s review some basic sushi terminology to help you make informed decisions:


Sushi is a Japanese dish made of vinegared rice topped with various ingredients, such as seafood, vegetables, or egg.


Nigiri is a type of sushi consisting of a small ball of vinegar rice with a piece of seafood, usually raw, on top.


Maki, also known as sushi rolls, is made by wrapping vinegared rice and fillings in a sheet of seaweed.


Sashimi is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced raw seafood, typically served with soy sauce and wasabi.

Now that you understand the basic terminology, let’s move on to the ordering process.

Step by Step Guide to Ordering Sushi

Key takeaway: Understanding basic sushi terminology and starting with simple rolls can help beginners navigate the process of ordering sushi. Asking for recommendations, using chopsticks, and dipping sushi fish-side down are also helpful tips for ordering like a pro.

Step 1: Choose the Type of Sushi You Want

The first step in ordering sushi is deciding what type of sushi you want. Do you want nigiri, maki, or sashimi?

If you’re not sure, start with something simple like a California roll, which is a maki roll filled with crab meat, avocado, and cucumber. Alternatively, you can try a few different types of nigiri to get a feel for the different flavors and textures.

Step 2: Decide on the Filling

Once you’ve chosen the type of sushi you want, it’s time to decide on the filling. This will depend on your personal taste and preferences. Some popular options include:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Eel
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber

If you’re not sure what to order, ask your server for recommendations based on your taste preferences.

Step 3: Consider the Preparation Method

Sushi can be prepared in different ways, and each method has its own unique flavor and texture. Here are some common preparation methods to consider:

  • Raw: Sushi that is not cooked, such as sashimi or nigiri, has a distinct texture and flavor that is different from cooked sushi.
  • Grilled: Some types of sushi, such as eel or salmon, may be grilled or broiled to add a smoky flavor.
  • Tempura: Tempura sushi is fried in a light batter, giving it a crispy texture.

Step 4: Order Accompaniments

In addition to sushi, many restaurants offer accompaniments such as miso soup or edamame. These can be a great way to round out your meal and add some variety to your dining experience.

Step 5: Try New Things

One of the best things about sushi is the variety of flavors and textures available. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different combinations of fillings and preparation methods.

Tips for Ordering Sushi

Here are some additional tips to help you order sushi like a pro:

1. Start with Simple Rolls

If you’re new to sushi, start with simple rolls like California rolls or vegetable rolls. These rolls are easy to eat and have familiar flavors that are less intimidating than some of the more exotic sushi options.

2. Ask for Recommendations

If you’re not sure what to order, don’t be afraid to ask your server for recommendations. They can help guide you based on your taste preferences and any dietary restrictions.

3. Don’t Overdo the Wasabi

Wasabi is a spicy green paste that is often served with sushi. However, it’s important not to overdo it – a little goes a long way. Add just a small amount to your soy sauce for a bit of extra flavor.

4. Use Chopsticks

While it’s not necessary to use chopsticks to eat sushi, it can make the experience more authentic. If you’re not sure how to use chopsticks, don’t be afraid to ask for a fork or spoon.

5. Dip Sushi Fish-Side Down

When dipping sushi into soy sauce, make sure to dip the fish side down. This will prevent the rice from falling apart and ensure that you get the full flavor of the fish.

FAQs – How to Order Sushi for Beginners

What are the basic types of sushi?

The basic types of sushi are nigiri, maki, and sashimi. Nigiri is a type of sushi that consists of a small ball of rice topped with a slice of raw fish. Maki, on the other hand, is a roll of seaweed, rice, and filling that is cut into smaller pieces. Sashimi is a Japanese delicacy consisting of thinly sliced raw fish that is usually eaten with soy sauce and wasabi.

How do I choose the right sushi restaurant?

When choosing a sushi restaurant, always look for one that has a good reputation for serving fresh and high-quality sushi. Check online reviews or ask for recommendations from friends who are sushi lovers. It is also important to look for a restaurant that prepares the sushi in a clean and hygienic manner.

Can I order sushi for delivery or takeout?

Yes, many sushi restaurants offer delivery or takeout options. Just make sure to specify any special requests, such as extra wasabi or soy sauce, when ordering. When picking up the sushi, make sure to check that everything is packed correctly and that the sushi is fresh.

Can I customize my sushi order?

Yes, most sushi restaurants offer a wide range of options for customization. You can request additional ingredients, such as avocado or cream cheese, or ask for specific cuts of fish. You can also request your sushi to be made without any raw fish, which is known as vegetarian sushi.

How do I know what to order as a beginner?

If you are a beginner, it is always best to start with the basics. Choose nigiri or simple maki rolls with cooked ingredients such as California roll, shrimp tempura roll, or cucumber roll. As you become more experienced with sushi, you can start to explore more adventurous options such as sashimi or more complex rolls with raw fish.

How much sushi should I order?

The amount of sushi you should order depends on your appetite and the size of your group. As a general rule, three to four pieces of sushi per person is a good starting point. If you are ordering rolls, one or two rolls per person should suffice. However, if you are particularly hungry, you may want to order more.