Japanese Dining and Shared Plates

In many Asian countries, there is a long-standing tradition of eating off of shared plates. Families will share a plate around a dinner table, restaurants will serve shared plates to their customers, and coworkers will order out for shared plates to partake of in the break room. This practice may be a little strange to most people in the United States, so our Bellevue Japanese restaurant offers the following tips:

When dining from a shared plate, you will generally have a personal plate upon which to serve yourself. There will often be either a large spoon or an oversized pair of serving chopsticks that can be used for this purpose. If no such utensil is provided, it’s not uncommon to serve yourself with your own chopsticks. When doing this, grab food out of the shared plate with the end of the sticks that you do not eat off of. Keep this in mind and be mindful of others, and you should be okay.

Japanese Chopstick Etiquette

Maybe you know how to use chopsticks, but do you know how to use them without offending your Japanese hosts?  We’re not going to hold you to tradition at our Bellevue Japanese restaurant, but if you ever find yourself in the company of friends from overseas, try to adhere to the following rules:

  • Chopsticks Aren’t Toys: Don’t point with your sticks, don’t use them to pass food around the table, and never give yourself chopstick tusks.

  • Chopsticks Don’t Go in Your Hair: It is a misconception that chopsticks are sometimes worn as hairpieces.  The truth is that people who appear to be wearing chopsticks are actually wearing something called the kanzashi.  These resemble but are not interchangeable with chopsticks.

  • Do Not Rub Your Chopsticks Together: Rubbing chopsticks together can be seen as insulting to your host.  This is something you do with a cheaply-made pair of sticks when you need to rub the splinters away after breaking them apart, so you could be telling your host that they’re cheap.

Always Use Your Sticks in Pairs: Your sticks should always be used as a pair, so don’t use one without the other.  In particular, never stab a piece of food with a stick.

The Special Signature of Japanese Soy Sauce

Not many people give a lot of thought to soy sauce. After all, if you’ve seen on sauce, you’ve seen them all, right? Actually, the sauce that you find at a Japanese restaurant is a distinctly Japanese variety, which may very well be different than the sauce you might find in China.

The primary difference between Chinese soy sauce and Japanese soy sauce comes from the concentration of soybeans. Japanese soy sauce manufacturers tend to mix their soy with grains, usually wheat, during the fermenting process to give it a sweeter taste. Chinese soy sauce, by contrast, usually has little or no wheat in it. Most people in the West appreciate the sweet flavor of the Japanese variety, which explains why most soy sauce found in the United States is of Japanese origin.