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Sunday, 27th April 2014
In General Japan News,

Dining with Obama: A guide to sushi

President of the US Barack Obama is on a visit to Japan, and the press are going wild for it - particularly following his informal dinner with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at a top-rated sushi restaurant in Tokyo's posh shopping district Ginza.

The two heads of state dined at three Michelin-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro, a dining experience that Mr Obama described as his best where sushi was concerned.

Just in case you find yourself eating at a similar establishment and the president of the US walks in and takes a seat next to you, it may be worth remembering a few tips when it comes to eating sushi. You'll certainly avoid getting strange looks from your fellow diners if you follow this advice.

Japanese table manners should be observed from start to finish, so wash your hands with the wet towel provided and never rub your chopsticks together.

Although in western restaurants, it's customary to serve wasabi on the side and mix it with soy sauce, this is more common with sashimi in Japan. Most bite-sized pieces of rice and fish will be served with an appropriate amount of wasabi smeared on the inside, so there is no need for mixing.

Another common misconception in the west is that the ginger is for placing on top of the sushi. This does little more than overpower the taste entirely - the ginger is actually for cleansing your palate in between bites.

Restaurants that serve the food on a little moving conveyer belt are popular, such as the common chain Ganko Kaiten Sushi. However, the fish has a tendency to dry out under the lights when it has been on the belt for a long time, so check the shininess before helping yourself.

Miso soup is always eaten last to finish the meal rather than to start it, and if you can't see a dish you want, feel free to ask the chef to make it up for you.

With all of that in mind, you're now ready to eat sushi.

Written by Mark Smith