Tipping Sushi Chefs
September 8, 2004 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I've been reading more about sushi after the discussion on Japanese dining and I came across mention of tipping the sushi chef. Do you tip your sushi chef separately, especially if he's not the owner, do you buy him a drink? And where are you?
posted by lobakgo to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
My understanding, and I've been in Japan for ten years, is that you don't tip for anything in Japan except maid service in the fanciest hotels.
posted by dydecker at 5:47 PM on September 8, 2004

I have tipped the chef separately when sitting at the sushi bar and getting some obviously bigger-than-normal cuts. Just put the money on the sushi bar, and who ever picks it up will know it's for the chef (money is considered dirty, and the sushi-chef must keep his hands clean at all times, so they may not pick it up themselves).

This is in the US, in Japan I don't know.
posted by falconred at 6:02 PM on September 8, 2004

One of the sushi bars I go to actually has a large crystal jar on the bar for tips. I normally leave a tip for the sushi chef but I've always wondered how much is proper, especially when I'm also served by the wait staff. If I'm just at the bar and not at a table tipping is pretty obvious. This is in New England.
posted by anathema at 6:33 PM on September 8, 2004

The best sushi dinner I've ever had was in Hermosa Beach, a Korean girl who spoke enough Japanese for sushi did the ordering. We tipped the guy by saying 'have a Sapporo on us'. Eventually he started doing crazy things like throwing his knives in the air, cracking pigeon eggs into our beers, and pulling out the special unfiltered sake from the back room. After we all (including the chef!) had had a few slugs of that good stuff, he began bringing us really nifty things. I particularly remember the grilled yellowtail collar, but the thing that made the biggest impression was the whale sushi. Illegal, unethical, and rather fatty - he wouldn't tell us what it was until we ate it!
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:11 PM on September 8, 2004

I tip the servers at table and the chef at the bar.

Bay Area, most of my sushi eating done in the city.
posted by padraigin at 7:11 PM on September 8, 2004

I try not to get guys with sharp knives drunk...
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 PM on September 8, 2004

I always tip the sushi chef, and here in Sacramento, the large crystal bowls anathema mentions are quite common at sushi bars. I frequently get little extras in return (an extra piece or two of whatever I'm ordering, maybe, or occasionally a free dessert), especially if it's a slow night.
posted by Acetylene at 7:56 PM on September 8, 2004

Y'all are great--thanks. The money is dirty thing is part of the reason I wondered about tipping. When you say you leave it on the sushi bar, do you mean near your plate or above where the sushi is handed over or closer to the chef depending on the construction of the bar? I've never seen anyone tip the chef, so I don't know where to leave it to make it clear. Also, do you tip during the meal, near the end, after the bill? We always tip as part of our bill. But we've had some stellar sushi at Chiso in Seattle and it would be nice to do more than just say thank you with the chef just getting whatever part of the tip he gets.
posted by lobakgo at 8:02 PM on September 8, 2004

I would never, ever leave money directly on a sushi bar, as that is where food is placed, and money is dirty. I would not do that in New York City, where I was born and raised, and I would get run out of the restaurant in Tokyo if I tried that here.
posted by gen at 9:01 PM on September 8, 2004

Ok. I need a new computer. I lost my job after 14 years, and hope to be starting prof.grad school in jan, can i leave the Windows world and go for an Apple, in the store they recomend a g4. but i am wary, what should i get?
posted by Duck_Lips at 5:05 PM on September 9, 2004

I recommend the California roll, ducklips. It's a safe introduction. From there you can work your way up to quail's eggs, eel, sea cucumber, and G4s.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2004

Man, you guys are too worried about dirt and money.

I often carry bills by my mouth because my hands are full and I'm not dead.
posted by shepd at 9:56 PM on September 9, 2004

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