Ladylike Laws: Sushi Etiquette



Many cuisines come with customs and standards all their own. Let’s be real here, American etiquette will only get you so far… A perfect example of this is with sushi. While I am sure many of you regularly enjoy in this Japanese cuisine, you might be surprised to learn what is considered to proper and what is thought to be impolite. And so, to keep you ladies lovely no matter where you dine, here is a quick crash course in Japanese dining:


  1. Feel free to alternate between chopsticks and fingers. Believe it or not, both are completely acceptable!
  2. Dip the fish into the soy sauce (not the rice side).
  3. Eat each piece of sushi in one mouthful. And please–chew with your mouth closed, of course.
  4. Signal to your waiter that you’re finished eating by resting your chopsticks across your soy sauce dish.
  5. Use the blunt, wide end of your chopsticks when serving yourself from a shared plate. (Who knew?!)



  • Rub your chopsticks together to sand down any splinters. It implies that the chopsticks are of low quality and is considered rude.
  • Dip the rice side of your sushi into the soy sauce (remember, just the fish).
  • Use the pickled ginger as a garnish for your sushi; it is meant to clear your palate in between bites! And I hear it’s good for digestion… Hint, hint for my Bikini Boot Campers.
  • Dump wasabi into your soy sauce; wasabi should be put directly on your sushi.
  • Bite your sushi in half and put it back on the plate.
  • Give the sushi chef a tip. Traditionally sushi chefs never handle money directly (and thank goodness because money is dirty).

And there you have it–now you’ll be the best-behaved sushi savant in the entire restaurant! For more tips on restaurant dining, check out my post about restaurant etiquette.

As Ron Burgundy would say, “stay classy” LC readers :-)

Is there a situation that has you would like to learn the proper protocol for? Tell me in the comments below and I just might answer it in my next Ladylike Laws post.

XO Lauren

P.S. If you love sushi as much as I do, be sure to check out my blog about my favorite sushi spots in Los Angeles.

You might also like…
Photo Diary: Touring, Treats & More
Happy Birthday to!
Here & There: I’m on Chelsea Lately
Photo Diary: My Trip To Coachella

Photo: WeHeartIt

Categories: Contributors, Dine, Etiquette, Ladylike Laws, Lauren Conrad
Share This
  • Melissa Panici

    When I went to your book signing in Kentucky, my boyfriend and I ate at a restaurant that served Sushi. I ate it very lady like but i had no idea on some of the things they consider rude so thank you for the tips!! I will be sure to use this when we eat Sushi again:)

  • Liesl

    I’ve lived in Asia for 4 years, so sushi etiquette is nothing new to me! :-)

    Liesl xxx

  • Charlie Ravens
  • charlie

    Vegetarian no good

  • Sarah Heckle

    Sometimes they make the sushi rolls so big it’s almost impossible to eat them in one bite!

    I love California Rolls :)

    How to life a charmed life:

  • Stephanie McDonnell

    Number five on the DO list seems like a no brainer, but honestly wouldn’t have thought of it. I guess it is like double dipping to use the narrow end, and nobody likes a double dipper.

    Photo memoirs:

  • Vanessa R

    Great tips! Too bad I can’t seem to find decent sushi around here! :/

  • Emma Stock

    Also, never use a fork and knife on your sushi! I work at a fine dining Asian restaurant and the other day I watched a man cutting up his sushi and spearing it on his fork and eating it like a steak! I almost had a heart attack.

  • Rachel Hine

    Wow! I never knew about using the other end when sharing, and not using ginger as a garnish! woops. Great tips. xo

  • Jesy

    oops! i do 3 of the 5 don’t do list… I will be more cautious next time I go :) Thank you for the tips!

  • Meredith

    These are great tips but shouldn’t you give credit to the original author(s)? These rules have been floating around the internet almost word-for-word for years on an illustrated diagram about sushi etiquette. Seems dishonest to pass this off as original

  • Evelyn butuk

    Thank you for the tips! Sushi is one of my favorite foods. I try to eat it in one bite but sometimes the piece is too big and I have to aet it in two bites.

  • Melissa LaRose

    My husband and I have been wanting to try sushi for a while now, thanks for the pointers, I definitely needed them lol!!! :)

    <3 Melissa

  • Linh Ly

    OMG this is great and so true! I love sushi and hate seeing people stuff their face!

    Follow me!!/2012/06/swan-princess-lake-maxi-skirt.html

  • Deek Labelle

    OH NO! My two favourite things are Don’ts! Mixing wasabi with the soy sauce gives it an even spicy taste, instead of burning your tongue while trying to chew a large piece. And I LOVE LOVE how the ginger tastes with the sushi! Damn, I’ll have to re-think things……

  • Jaclyn Schler

    Haha very helpful! Never knew about the wide side of the chop sticks… Good to know!

  • Anna Martin

    As someone who worked at a sushi restaurant for 3 years, I can tell you that people do the don’ts all the time!! My biggest pet peeves were people dipping the rice side of their nigiri in the soy sauce and putting ginger on their fish.

    Love love love sushi!

  • Tiffani Stuart

    I just finished my last bite of Sushi, before reading this!! LOL This was so cute! Luckily I didn’t offend anyone w/my Sushi eating skills! Kee it Classy, Lauren! ;0)

  • Jessica Rodriguez

    Great Tips!!:)

  • Tiffani Stuart

    I don’t ever touch the ginger, no way! lol I hate how it tastes! My favorite is Sushi w/spicy mayo!

  • Tiffani Stuart

    What are you talking about??? I NEVER share my Sushi! ha ha!

  • Martin M

    Thats really how a lady shoulkd eat sushi :) But what with us male ones? :) XOXO

  • Christina Graci
  • Giselle Escamilla

    haha sushi!! My favorite food!!!

  • Nurse Frugal

    I love sushie!!! Great pointers LC 😉

  • Larissa Wilhelm

    Thanks for the etiquette lesson! :-)

  • Maria Ayala

    Oh this will come in handy when me and my best friend get sushi every month. We are completely obsessed with Sushi&Starbucks(:

  • LillyElla

    Wow I eate sushi all the time, didn’ know how many rules I was breaking! Yikes :)

  • Chelsie Shizuru

    I’m sorry but some places do have low quality chopsticks and I HAVE to rub them together to get the splinters off. If you ever had a splinter in your lip, you would do the same! lol. NOT fun.

  • Rebecca Lawson

    Thanks LC!! I love sushi. :)

  • Casey E

    I agree with the above post! you should do an etiquette post on meeting a boyfriends family.

    and what to wear– like if casual dinner at his house, or dinner at a restaurant!

  • Lauren Coulter

    You should do a Ladylike Law of what to do when you are meeting a boyfriend’s parents for the first time. My first “”real”” college boyfriend lives out of state and I will be visiting him and will have to meet his family for the first time and will be staying in their house for a week

  • Giulia De Luca

    I have learned a lot of news about eating sushi, thanks!

  • Eliza Zamora
  • Leanne

    So delicious. Just had some for dinner.

    Love from South Africa

  • Laura Kanz

    This was very helpful! I eat sushi every week! Thanks! =]

  • Stephanie DiMaggio

    Wow, this is very helpful! I love sushi!!

  • Emilie

    my japanese friend always dumps wasabi into her soy sauce. SHe must be so rude haha

    xo Emilie

    PS please visit my blog @

  • Neesha de Souza

    As a girl of half Indian descent (actually from India) I find some people struggle a lot with how to eat Indian food and what to order if they want to play it safe or try something new without embarrassing themselves (ex/Along Came Polly). Fork & knife or use my hands? There are quite a few rules (like what to eat with rice and what goes with naan). Also it would be great to see an article on buffet manners, just because it’s all you can eat doesn’t mean you should stuff your face to get your money’s worth. Love these articles & the boot camp!! Helping me and my mom maintain the healthy lifestyle thy makes us feel good! xoxx

  • Kayla Iso

    You should add: don’t eat sushi on a first date. My friend and I always joke about that because I’m such a messy sushi eater. It’s true though! It’s awkward sitting their with someone as you’re chewing your piece of sushi.

    And yes, I rub my chopsticks together (depending on which kind they are), but I’m Japanese. I think I’m allowed to do it. Plus all my other (Asian) friends do it.

  • Noor AlQ

    Oh gees I always dip wasabi in my soy sauce lol

  • Cori Brunn

    You also shouldn’t leave your chopsticks stuck in the rice when you’re not using them. This is something that’s done at funerals.

  • Christy S

    I eat sushi basically all the time! Lol..These were great tips! Sometimes it’s crazy to think how different our rules of etiquette are within each culture. For instance, did you know people in Nepal consider it rude to share off of someone else’s plate?

  • Erika Jeanine

    Cut Roll: chopsticks, but you can use fingers
    Hand Roll: Obviously named for a reason
    Nigiri (fish on rice): Use your fingers, dip fish not rice, it’ll keep together
    Sashimi: Never use your fingers

    Also, only pour a little bit of soy sauce, you can always add more (Typically less than halfway is good). A Japanese person would be embarrassed to pour so much soy sauce. Open your chopsticks parallel to the table between the table and your body. It should look like it’s aligned with the table’s edge and the sticks are on top of each other. Use this always for upscale japanese dining, but it’s not as bad as a much more casual place.

    Think of it this way….they will probably assume you will do everything wrong anyways, so be the person that impressed them that day. Maybe they’ll remember you next time you come in.

  • Erika Jeanine

    Rubbing the chopsticks is still considered disrespectful, so you should just ask for another set politely. Or use your fingers (for cut roll/hand roll/nigiri, NOT sashimi)

  • Erika Jeanine

    It is common to (with chopsticks) grab some ginger, dip it in soy sauce, and coat your fish with it — maybe you will like that

  • Chelsie Shizuru

    like i said, some places have chopsticks that always splinter. I’d be politely asking for a new set with each one i opened. 😉

  • Ashleigh

    I like eating the ginger with my sushi, I know it’s for breath but I think it tastes great with certain fish. And I like putting wasabi in my soy sauce if I don’t happen to feel like experiencing heat in my ears at that moment but would enjoy the delicious taste of wasabi. If someone considers these things rude, I don’t care what they think.

  • Liv

    But my mouth is too small to fit a whole nigiri sushi…sigh. Maybe it would be okay if I don’t put it back on the plate between bites?

  • Elizabeth

    But I really love putting the ginger with my sushi!! It’s the best! I suppose I’m just a silly American but the taste buds want what the taste buds want? :)

  • FoxInDocs

    My husband was taught by the sushi chef (in a restaurant where he ate every day for a year) to put the wasabi in the soy ans stir it, and to tip the nagiri on it’s side to pick it up and dip the side in the wasabi/soy so both the rice and the fish are in the sauce.

  • Ashley Brown

    oh I always put ginger on my sushi! my date actually saw me doing this and tried it, and he got addicted lol

  • Melanie C

    Useful tips really had things I did not know but now with this guide I know what I must do!

  • somesome11

    The vast majority of sushi joints don’t even serve traditional sushi, while things like eating with your mouth closed are a given (please do this with all food), I like things to taste the way I want it to taste, so if I want to dip the rice into soy sauce (which I prefer), I will. The vast majority of sushi joints don’t server traditional sushi anymore anyways, nor did most of them grow up in traditional Japanese households; I’m sure as long as you pay them for the food, they’re quite OK with you eating it how you would like. Also, many fusion rolls are giant maki rolls, and are impossible to eat in one bite.



for a front-row VIP pass to all things lovely and chic. Sign up today for exclusive tips straight from Lauren, a chance to win monthly giveaways, and so much more.

sign up