Little Sushi Glossary: Basic Sushi Words and Terms

A quick reference for your next trip to the sushi bar

Ready to impress your friends with your mastery of Japanese cuisine and culture?  Here are some terms, expressions and ingredients to help you through your next trip to the Sushi Bar.

  • Agari (上り) – Sushi restaurant lingo for green tea
  • Gari (ガリ) – Pickled ginger used to clean your palate between sushi bites
  • Geta (下駄) – Normally refers to a traditional type of shoe, but in the context of sushi, it’s the name of a wooden tray that chefs serve sushi on
  • ”Gochisosamadeshita” (ごちそうさまでした)– “That was a feast!” – said at the end of a meal to complement the chef and the staff
  • Han-narezushi (半熟れ鮨) – Historical. An ancient form of sushi – half-fermented sushi
  • Hayazushi (早ずし) – Historical. The first, bigger version of modern sushi – literally means Quick sushi; Uses vinegared instead of fermented rice
  • ”Itadakimasu!“ (いただきます) – (lit. I received it) Said before beginning to eat
  • Kaiten zushi (回転寿司) – Sushi-go-round; Conveyor belt sushi
  • ”Kampai!” (カンパイ) – “Cheers!”
  • Maki sushi (巻き寿司) – a sushi roll
  • Narezushi (熟れ鮨) – Historical. An ancient form of sushi – fish fermented in barrels with rice
  • Neta (ねた) – Sushi topping or filling
  • Nigiri sushi (握り寿司) – the basic sushi – a molded rice ball topped with a slice of seafood or plants
  • “Oaiso Onegai Shimasu” (おあいそお願いします) – “Check, please!”
  • Omakase (おまかせ) – Ordering “chef’s choice” sushi
  • Shari (しゃり) or sumeshi (酢飯) – Sushi rice; usually refers to vinegared rice
  • Shoyu (醤油) or, in sushi lingo Murasaki​ ()– Soy sauce
  • Sushi-ya (寿司屋) – Sushi restaurant
  • Tachigui Sushi (立ち食い寿司) – A place where you eat sushi standing up
  • Temaki (手巻き) – A sushi hand roll
  • Tezu (手酢) – A light vinegar solution chefs use to wet their hands and clean their knives
  • Wasabi (わさび) – A spicy green paste made from grated wasabi root

Popular Sushi Ingredients

  • Anago – Salt Water Eel
  • Chu-Toro – Fatty Tuna
  • Hamachi – Yellowtail
  • Hirame  – Flounder
  • Hotate – Sea Scallop
  • Ika – Squid
  • Ikura – Salmon Roe
  • Katsuo – Bonito
  • Maguro – Tuna
  • Ō-Toro – Fatty Tuna Belly
  • Saba – Mackerel
  • Sake – Salmon
  • Sawara – Spanish Mackerel
  • Shime Saba – Mackerel marinated in vinegar
  • Tai  – Red Snapper
  • Tako – Octopus
  • Tobiko – Flying Fish Roe
  • Tomago – Egg
  • Unagi – Fresh Water Eel
  • Uni – Sea Urchin





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