Should Asking a Chef to ‘Hold the Rice’ at a Sushi Restaurant Get You Kicked Out?

By Mike Pomranz |
SUSHI FWX

© Farrah Shaikh McLaren

A story of supposedly improper sushi etiquette launched a massive debate on Twitter last week as people on both sides argued whether it’s ever appropriate to ask for sushi sans rice.

Before we begin, I would like to stipulate that I know that sushi means rice (not fish, as many people believe) and so asking for sushi with no rice is technically nonsensical.  But I’m not the one setting the axis of debate here. This is what happened: Japanese writer and Twitter personality, Kazuo Koike tweeted, “I went out to eat sushi the other day. There was a female customer in the restaurant, who, in the middle of her meal, informed the staff ‘I’m on a carb-free diet, so please hold the rice,’” according to Rocket News 24’s translation. The request did not go over well. “The chef and the other customers froze in place. In business, you have to please your customers, but this was just too much. In response to her request, the chef quietly said ‘Please leave the restaurant.’

It’s a vague tale lacking many seemingly important details, everything from the woman’s tone to the name of the restaurant. However, because this was social media, the fires of the Internet commentariat were immediately stoked. Though Koike had his supporters, some tweeter brought up valid opposing points. “Would he have reacted differently if she’d politely asked for sashimi?” said one person. “There’s nothing wrong with asking if they can do that. Some restaurants are happy to,” said another Twitter user. And speaking of being rude, another person pointed out, “What she did was better than eating just the fish and leaving the rice on her plate.” Probably true. And kicking her out for the request does seem extreme.

Sushi is not my area of expertise, so I don’t claim to know the answer. However, I see one big takeaway: People on low carb diets can be super annoying in any country around the world. 

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