When you visit Japanese restaurants, there’s a lot of rules of etiquette involved that you might not know about. In many ways, eating in a high-end Japanese restaurant is an art form.
The wrong move at your table can be a grave insult to the staff, and the chef is always watching. You need to understand how to eat your food respectfully to have the best experience.
One question we see a lot is whether or not it is rude to mix wasabi and soy sauce. We’ll tell you a little more about this aspect of etiquette in Japanese cuisine.
Quick Answer: Is it Rude to Mix Wasabi and Soy Sauce?
Yes, it’s rude to mix wasabi and soy sauce together in a Japanese restaurant. There are a few main reasons for this, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
The wasabi on your plate is there to add spice to your dish. It needs to be used artfully and correctly to avoid insulting the chef.
Please note, this rule typically applies to eating sushi in Japanese restaurants. In general, sushi is not vegan because it contains fish or fish products. Even vegetarian sushi typically contains dashi, a spice made from fish flakes.
Read Also: Is Wasabi Vegan?
Why You Shouldn’t Mix Wasabi and Soy Sauce
It doesn’t look appealing.
In Japanese cuisine (and in many others), the way your plate looks is just as important as the taste of the food. The higher quality the restaurant is, the more likely you’re going to see fancy and beautiful plating that was designed to transform each food into a piece of art.
Some say you eat with your eyes as much as you eat with your mouth. This is certainly true with Japanese food, where the plating is oftentimes orderly and beautiful.
Mixing your wasabi and soy sauce ruins the beauty of your plate. It creates an ugly mixture that tarnishes the clean green of the wasabi and the rich brown of the soy sauce.
Read Also: Is Soy Sauce Vegan?
It’s insulting to the chef.
When you go to an upscale Japanese restaurant, you are entrusting the creation of your meal to the chef.
Although sushi is not vegan, we’ll use sushi as an example because it’s most commonly done with sushi. Oftentimes, the chef will add what they think is most appropriate to the sushi.
That includes any spices or sauces. Your chef will skillfully prepare whatever they think is best for the dish, carefully cultivating a plate that they are proud of. When you mix the wasabi and soy sauce to dunk your food in, it implies that the chef didn’t know what they were doing.
This is even truer when you’re at a fancier restaurant where the wasabi is freshly grated from the plant. The chef will have personally picked that plant to make wasabi with, so mixing it with soy sauce again implies that the chef wasn’t skilled enough in their selection.
Mixing them reduces the flavors of both the wasabi and the soy sauce.
The flavors of both the wasabi and soy sauce are altered when you mix the two. Just like with the wasabi, in a high-end Japanese restaurant, the chef will have likely personally selected the soy sauce.
By mixing these flavors, you’re saying to the chef that their selection wasn’t good enough.
Don’t forget, the chef will add any sauces or spices they think are necessary to the recipe. Avoid implying that you know better than the chef.
It’s important to understand how to respect other cultures when you’re in their domain, including restaurants. All around the world, different cultures have their own eating customs.
That includes Japanese food. In an upscale traditional Japanese restaurant, the whole meal is like a performance put on by the chef, and inappropriately mixing or adding things to it can be insulting.
If you’d like to enjoy a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce, consider making it at home, along with your own vegan sushi. That way, you can be 100% sure no animal byproducts are in the meal.