So you’ve met that ‘how YOU doin’ girl of your dreams and you figured out she likes sushi, so you’ve taken her to the high end sushi house-of-the-moment… it’s all going to plan.
But then you spot the chopsticks. Now what?
Fear not, fellow sushi rookie, for using chopsticks is not the most difficult of tasks – if you have a few simple pointers under your wing.
Step one: Take the upper chopstick and rest it on your hand slightly higher than you would hold a pen – with your index finger, middle finger and thumb holding it at the same point, about two thirds of the way down the chopstick. A good rule of thumb (no pun intended) is that your index finger should run along the top side of the chopstick, your middle finger should support it on the bottom, and your thumb is there on the side to ensure it doesn’t roll onto the table.
Step two: The second chopstick runs underneath that, going from the webbing of your hand down to your ring finger. That means your ring finger supports it and keeps it in place, while the top chopstick moves up and down to meet it when you move your index finger and thumb.
Confused? Let’s look at it another way. Take two pens. Hold one like you normally would, between your thumb, index and middle finger. Okay, now take the second pen and slide it underneath that one. Now make the top pen go up and down.
Bingo. You’ve just learned how to use chopsticks. Some people use all five fingers, using their little finger to help guide the bottom chopstick – that just ain’t right. So don’t do it.
So you’ve got your chopstick technique down – now what?
Well, etiquette and style matter too – especially if you’re dining with a Japanese person. Follow these rules and you won’t go wrong in that area:
- Don’t suck your chopsticks. It’s kinda gross.
- If you’re holding your chopsticks, don’t pick up a bowl without putting the sticks down. That’s kinda like grabbing for the ketchup while still holding your fork – definitely uncool.
- Passing food from your sticks to someone else’s? Nice party trick, bad party form.
- Using your chopstick like a flagpole, and sticking it down into your rice so it stands up… also not cool, which should be readily apparent to anyone older then three years of age.
- Don’t wave your sticks around when you talk. Would you do that with your soup spoon? Didn’t think so.
- Last but not least – don’t spear your food and pick it up with your chopsticks. You might think nobody is watching, but trust me, someone always spots you when you’re behaving like Jungle Jim on a first date.
Another helpful tip is to think about what you’re ordering if you’re unsure about your chopstick artistry. Anice simple dynamite roll, for example, will be easy to handle with chopsticks, while a more intricate dish, that might be larger, and thus more prone to falling apart, will expose your weaknesses in no uncertain terms.
One last style point for young players – when you’re done with your meal, stick your chopsticks back in the paper wrap they came in, up to the halfway point, then fold the remaining paper over.
Why? No idea. But that’s considered good form. It’s how it’s done, it shows they’ve been used, and it makes it easier to dispose of without someone having to grab your soiled sticks with their bare hands.