Sushi is likely the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when thinking about Japanese food. Healthy and delicious, it has become a favorite of many all around the world.
As an international success, sushi lovers likely know the difference between nigiri sushi and maki rolls, but when it comes to sushi variations, that is merely the beginning!
Have you ever heard of chirashi or oshi sushi? Restaurants themselves come in different categories, such as “over the counter” or “conveyor belt.”
All in all, sushi may seem simple – it’s just something raw with rice, right? – but there’s a complex world that does not only require intricate skill and craftsmanship but also a certain amount of knowledge to make the most out of your sushi experience.
In this thorough guide, we’ll cover all the important basics of sushi. From how to eat it to secret etiquette, you’ll be a sushi pro in no time!

Nigiri, Maki, Oshi – Sushi Varieties

When a Japanese friend says “Let’s go eat sushi,” they’re most likely talking about classic nigiri, “hand-pressed sushi” that is neta (topping) on a bank of shari (sushi rice). That is only one of many varieties, however. Let’s take a look at other kinds of sushi:

Nigiri-sushi

Oshi-zushi is “pressed sushi” and particularly popular in the Kansai area. It is quite literally vinegared rice and toppings pressed into a box until it has a nice shape, then taken back out and cut into blocks.

Oshi-zushi

Kazari-zushi means “decorative sushi” and could be called a sub-genre of maki-zushi, “sushi rolls.” It’s a popular dish at parties because of how fun and adorable it looks.

Kazari-zushi

Temaki-zushi means “hand-rolled” and looks like little bouquets. It’s made by putting vinegared rice and a topping of your choice on a sheet of nori (dried seaweed) and then rolled by hand. Because it is relatively easy to make, it’s a sushi variety often made and enjoyed at home.

Temaki-zushi (Hand-rolled sushi)

Chirashi-zushi basically is a sushi bowl with the toppings loosely spread on top of the vinegared rice. It’s easily made at home while kaisen don (seafood bowl) is a popular order at sushi restaurants. It is also a staple dish during the Doll’s Festival (Hinamatsuri) on March 3.

Chirashi-zushi

Kaisen don (Seafood bowl)

Sushi Restaurant Types: Conveyor Belt and Over-the-Counter

Conveyor Belt Sushi

Sushi restaurants can be divided into two categories. One is kaiten-zushi, or conveyor belt sushi. As the name suggests, guests take whatever sushi creations they desire from a conveyor belt that circles the restaurant. The price is usually decided by the color of the plate and conveyor belt restaurants are known for being affordable and fit for every budget. One plate features t…

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