Even if you're an experienced sushi eater, ordering can be a very intimidating process. Half of the menu is in Japanese, there's a ton of etiquette rules you probably don't understand, and, should you offend one of the chefs, there are plenty of very sharp knives handy.
To pull back the veil on the ordering process, we polled a group of industry vets to share some tips that'll help novices look like they know what they're doing when they sit down at the bar.
1. Sit at the bar
Ninety percent of a sushi chef's work happens before the restaurant even opens. For a chef, the prep is the practice, and the service is the performance. It's best to get a front-row seat rather than slumming it in the nosebleeds. You'll get a stronger appreciation of the care that goes into your food, and no one has more knowledge of the menu and freshness of the fish than the chef. Also, a few friendly questions and a genuine interest will likely earn you free food.
2. Trust your server
It is their job to make sure you have a good experience, so don't make it hard for them. If you're feeling brave, then order "omakase" style ("I'll leave it to you") and let the chef make the decisions. But whether you're ordering a la carte or letting the chef pick, offer your server suggestions of what you like in terms of texture and intensity. If you're not into creamy, rich fish, you probably won't want to end up with a mouthful of urchin genitals.
3. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Odds are your server didn't know anything about sushi when they started working in the industry, so don't feel embarrassed if you don't have a nuanced understanding of the difference between blue and yellowfin tuna, or don't have three semesters worth of Japanese language classes under your kimono.
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