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Mar 21, 2008 09:13 PM

Sushi: Fingers or Chopsticks?

Do you eat sushi with your fingers or with chopsticks? All of the research I've done seems to indicate that sushi is traditionally a finger food and usually eaten with the fingers, picked up, raised to the mouth and consumed in one or two bites.

Because of this, I have always eaten sushi with my fingers--besides, it's easier! However, whenever I go out to a sushi bar, 95% of the clientele is using chopsticks.

So which is it?

Another pet peeve is going to a Thai restaurant where people eating non-noodle dishes insist on chopsticks. (Always white people, of course.)

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  1. I definitely eat my sushi with my (clean) fingers. Its just easier this way, and it is just an nice extra sensory touch (no pun intended.)

    1. Either is acceptable, but sushi is traditionally finger-food.

      1. Either is acceptable and the traditional method is considered with your fingers, but even in Japan, most people use chopsticks.

        1. I generally use my fingers for most everything, and will occasionally use chopsticks for items that are sauced.

          For those more inclined to use chopsticks, I would recommend using your hands when in front of an attentive, traditionally-trained sushi chef. By so doing you allow him to be able to adapt the density of the nigiri to the tane, whereas if you use chopsticks he will be compelled to keep the nigiri tight. It is quite amazing how much a difference such a small detail can make. (


          For instance my regular itamae-san will use a much lighter touch in forming the nigiri when anago is involved, a perfect match to it's unbelieveably delicate texture. (For our stateside sushi bars this will only happen for the few that bother to import fresh anago still on the bone. Most sushi bars receive their anago already pre-filleted.) This is where I will use my hands in spite of the sauce!

          4 Replies
          1. re: cgfan

            "For instance my regular itamae-san will use a much lighter touch in forming the nigiri when anago is involved, a perfect match to it's unbelieveably delicate texture."

            Have you ever sat with an itamae, states-side, who'll serve to your palm ( as opposed to a geta )?

            1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

              Yes, but only in an impromptu session long after the sushi bar had closed and the tane put away. Everyone else had already left except for the two itamae-sans and myself. We were just sharing some drinks when the head itamae decided to bust out the tane again to enjoy (for me) another round of sushi. As it was very informal no plates or geta were used, and he just served the sushi directly to my palm.

              1. re: cgfan

                I'll definitely check out your Encinitas rec this summer.

                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                  TDL(t)OA: No doubt you will enjoy your meal... Just make sure you let them know you are well-accustomed to traditional sushi, and sit in front of Morita-san, the head chef.

                  For those wondering where this is, it's at Kaito Sushi in Encinitas, North San Diego County. (They're in the middle of a move to a new location just a block away, so I've linked-in their new, post-move, address.)

                  Kaito Sushi
                  130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

          2. Use whichever you like. With chopsticks, however, it is much harder to flip the nigiri over to dip the neta into the sauce, so many people that use them wind up dipping the rice. This gets way too much soy on the piece and, as one person put it, is like putting mustard on the outside of a hot dog bun. The easiest thing to do is reach over the piece and pick it up from the "back", flipping it over to dip the topping into the sauce on its way your mouth.

            But really, it's no big deal. Just invite me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Richard 16

              I guess I'm odd because I use my fingers but still dip the rice in soy. It's not really that difficult to control the amount of soy absorbed by the rice.
              I'm so busy eating my own I never noticed and dont care if you use fingers or styx. Just as long as I get to go along as well!

              1. re: Richard 16

                an alternative is to remove the fish from the rice, dip in soy, replace, enjoy. Works beautifully.