8 Things Singaporeans Are Doing Wrong When Eating Japanese Food

Being a melting pot, Singapore features food from various cultures and one of the most saturated cuisines in Singapore would have to be Japanese food. Japanese restaurants are our go-to spots for family gatherings, dates, and meetups with friends after a long day of work.

Although eating Japanese food may seem pretty second nature to us now, there are actually many mistakes that we as Singaporeans are making. Here are eight things we’re doing wrong when eating Japanese food:

1. Settle For Unfresh Sashimi

Japan is overflowing with restaurants selling the freshest sashimi, and the locals would not settle for any less.

ShuKuu Izakaya - Sashimi

In Singapore, fish imports from Japan usually come in every Tuesday, so that is when your fish is going to be the freshest.

If you see several promotions for sashimi on Mondays at various Japanese restaurants, that’s because the sliced fish has already been in the restaurant for a week, and the restaurants are trying to clear the stock fast.

So the next time you see a good deal for sashimi on Mondays, think again before rushing into it.

2. Mix Wasabi Into Soy Sauce

We Singaporeans love mixing wasabi into soy sauce until the sauce turns into a murky, greenish brown paste that doesn’t look very appetising.


While many of us like our dipping sauce this way, this is something the Japanese would never do.


Instead, wasabi is left at the side of the saucer, instead of mixed in, and it is placed directly on the sushi before the sushi is dipped into the soy sauce. This is to ensure that the sushi still retains its taste without being overpowered by the sauce.

3. Stab Your Food With Chopsticks

Sometimes instead of using the chopsticks to pick up food, we ‘poke’ or ‘stab’ our chopsticks through our food, especially with foods that are rounder or smaller and are difficult to pick up.

The Japanese find this incredibly rude, and we should make it a point to always pick up our sushi with chopsticks. If need be, use a spoon to help you scoop it up before bringing it to your plate.

4. Dip Sushi Rice Side Down

Have you always dipped your sushi rice side down and then get a mouth full of salty soy sauce that overpowers the taste of the sushi? The Japanese never have this problem.

By dipping your sushi fish side down, the excess soy sauce will drip off the smooth surface of the sashimi, giving you the perfect amount of soy sauce for your sushi.

5. Bite Sushi Into Half

Biting your piece of sushi into half is deemed as an amateur move, as the various components of the sushi will fall apart and drop all over your plate. This affects the whole experience of enjoying the flavours of the sushi, and you should always eat the entire sushi in a single bite.

6. Stick Your Chopsticks Into Rice

Ever ordered a Katsu Don, Oyaku Don, or any rice bowl for that matter and stuck your chopsticks in the rice because you didn’t want to put it on the table?

This is actually a huge no-no in Japanese culture because this reminds people of a funeral, where incense is stuck into the rice and offered to the dead. It’s very similar to Chinese culture as well, so you really shouldn’t make this a habit in Singapore.

7. Eat Pickled Ginger With Sushi

That plate of pickled ginger you keep reaching for to eat with your sushi altogether? The Japanese again, will not do this.


Instead, pickled ginger is eaten between pieces of sushi to cleanse the palate, so as to fully taste the next sushi and enjoy the whole sensory experience.

8. Pick Around At Food

If you’ve ever wanted to grab a piece of food from a sharing plate, but decided to change your mind and go for a smaller piece instead, you’re guilty of this faux pas. This picking and touching around of food are frowned upon and seen as rude.

Look at the plate of food, aim for the piece you want, then go for it in one shot.

If you have been making these rookie mistakes, it’s time to up your game. I hope this guide has taught you something and you’ll fit in better during your next trip to Japan!