Japanese cuisine is one of the most popular forms of culinary art in the world today. In fact, according to Forbes, there are now more than 90,000 Japanese restaurants around the globe. This number is still expected to grow — a clear testimony of the continuous clamor for this particular cuisine.

But even if there are already numerous Japanese restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New York, London, Paris, and various places across the globe, there are still a number of people who still haven’t actually eaten at one because of one reason or another.

If you’re one of the few who haven’t tried dining at an authentic Japanese restaurant, here some important tips and etiquette you have to remember:

  1. Be nice to the restaurant greeter and wait staff assisting you

When entering a Japanese restaurant (and for any other types of dining establishments), it is always nice to greet your host. Be polite to all wait staff as well. Keep in mind that being a nice customer always pays off.

  1. Use the oshibori properly

Many Japanese restaurants have the wait staff give guests a hot wet towel called oshibori. Use this towel to clean or wipe your hands.

Once you’re done using it, roll it up the same way it was given to you and place it on the table.

  1. Peruse the menu carefully

The best Japanese restaurants have a variety of authentic Japanese dishes. Some of them even offer fantastic Friday evening brunches for foodies to enjoy a culinary journey of Japanese delights.

Some of the most popular and delectable foods you will see on Japanese restaurant menu are:

  • Sushi
  • Sashimi
  • Tempura
  • Tonkatsu
  • Yakitori
  • Gyoza

Many restaurants offer traditional Japanese noodle dishes as well such as ramen, udon, and yakisoba.

Eating healthily at a Japanese restaurant

Aside from foods mentioned above, Japanese restaurants also have salads, soups, and fresh fruits on their menu. As such, you will have a lot of healthy food options to choose from.

If you want to enjoy healthy and good food when dining at this type of restaurant, when ordering, keep in mind that dishes which have poultry, fish, and shellfish as the main protein are better choices over beef or pork.

Steamed dishes are also healthier options.  Dishes that are braised, broiled, grilled or sautéed are safe choices as well.

  1. Know basic chopstick etiquette

Eating at a Japanese restaurant means using chopsticks. Although you may know how to use this type of utensil, you still have to follow the right etiquette when using them.

Here is a list of important chopstick etiquette you have to follow:

  • Place your chopsticks on a chopstick rest when not using them. Usually, there is a little ornament on the table that allows guests to set their chopsticks down when not using them so that the tips won’t have to touch the table.
  • Avoid rubbing your chopsticks together before and while using them
  • Do not pass food to another person’s chopsticks using your chopsticks
  • Do not stick your chopsticks upright into your rice or bowl of food
  • Avoid using your chopstick to move a plate or bowl closer to you
  • If the chopsticks given to you were wrapped in paper, don’t throw the wrapper. Put back the chopsticks inside the wrapper once you’re done so that the wait staff won’t have to touch them when cleaning your table.
  1. Use the dipping sauces and condiments properly

To fully enjoy your meals, avoid overpowering them with sauces and condiments.

Do not put wasabi in the soy sauce. This is considered rude or bad manners in Japan. The correct way to add wasabi on sushi is to get a small amount and put it directly onto the sushi rice under the fresh fish.

When eating sushi, don’t dip the sushi rice into the soy sauce. Dip the topping or fish on the sauce to get only a hint of soy sauce. By doing so, you get the complete flavor and freshness of the fish.

  1. Do not pour your own drink

Lastly, to keep up with Japanese dining and drinking traditions, if you’re having sake or sharing drinks with your companions, make sure you pour their drinks for them. They should also do the same for you. And when raising a toast, say kanpai which means “to empty one’s glass.”

Following these tips and knowing the basic eating and drinking etiquette will help you have a more enjoyable dining experience at a Japanese restaurant. When you have everything down pat, dining at a Japanese restaurant will be as fun as eating at a French bistro, British pub, or American steakhouse.

Franck Motta

Franck Motta is is the Operations Manager at Tourism Development & Investment Company or TDIC. With a true passion for food and beverage operations, Franck's personal goal is to consistently deliver the highest quality of guest service and effectively run distinguished establishments such as KOI Restaurant & Lounge and Boa Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi

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