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Q: Tipping in Japanese Sushi Restaurants in the USA ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Tipping in Japanese Sushi Restaurants in the USA
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: kord-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 18 Aug 2002 18:07 PDT
Expires: 17 Sep 2002 18:07 PDT
Question ID: 56023
When I go out to some of the nicer sushi restaurants around town
(Boston, MA, USA), it's not uncommon to see asian patrons (usually
solo businessmen) drop off some bills at the sushi bar on their way

Presumably this is a tip to the chefs.  Being unfamiliar as I am with
Japanese traditions, I'm curious as to the scale of the tip.

Is it the traditional 15+% of American restaurants?  Or is it higher? 
Is it usually constrained to round numbers ($5, $10, $20)?

Is this tip intended to go above and beyond normal service and speak to
the quality and preparation of the food?  Is it always left, or only
in instances of particularly good food?  Are tips left for the
waitstaff as well?

Are there Japanese words / vernacular used to describe any of the above?

Thanks in advance.

Clarification of Question by kord-ga on 18 Aug 2002 18:13 PDT
Let me clarify a bit -- I've already gone through google and found
things like this:
"If the chef is doing a good job, put the tip on the counter and say
"there is something for you." Chef and servers are in a tip pool
usually. 15 to 20% is a good tip for the chef and then maybe 10%
additional for the servers. Let the server know the tip is only for
servers and that you have already taken care of the chef."

I'm looking for more information than that.  I'm looking essentially
for expert testimony of someone who has tipped the sushi chef in a
culturally appropriate fashion in the past, and their advice for
others who would do the same.
Subject: Re: Tipping in Japanese Sushi Restaurants in the USA
Answered By: journalist-ga on 18 Aug 2002 20:09 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Greetings!  To address your question, a sushi chef is a chef and not a
part of the waitperson staff in a restaurant.  In most cases, the chef
is a member of the tip pool by some percentage and being a sushi chef
is a respected and honorable position in a restaurant.  To tip your
sushi chef extra is akin to tipping a bartender extra for a fine drink
even though the drink was served at your table by a waitress.

Rist, I discovered in her "Eating Sushi in Japan" article,'s
Shizuko Mishima offers these as three of her tips under the heading
"What to do at Sushi Restaurants":

"It's nice to ask the sushi chef for his/her recommendation of the
...Try not to ask the sushi chef to bring you things - like a drink or
your bill...It's nice to offer to buy your sushi chef a drink if
he/she is doing a good job."

The latter seems to infer that doing extra for your sushi chef is an
honorable gesture and, in the grand scheme of things, it is certainly
a great way to be remembered by the chef when you make future visits
to perhaps get some of the better pieces of sushi.

Then I dscovered an article which states tips are divided among the
wautpersons and chef (I've included a medium portion of the article as
it gave some phrases to use as well):

"Even for experienced eaters, common practice is to ask the chef for
recommendations. This demonstrates respect for the chef, and he will
thusly give you the best pieces. At the bar, it is best to place many
small orders continuously rather than one large order at the
beginning. This will ensure continued interaction with the chef. And
it is never bad to throw in a few Japanese phrases:

Konichiwa (koh NEECH ee wah) How are you? 

Dozo (DOH zoh) - Please

Domo (DOH moh) - Thank you

Domo arigato (ah ri GAH toh) - Thank you very much
The only thing you should ever order from the chef is sushi and
sashimi. For everything else (your beverage, the check, etc.), ask the
waiter. And try to leave around a 20% tip, as it gets divided among

Therefore, tipping the chef extra would be a sign of great respect, a
way to honor the chef's skill and knowledge and a way to get the best
sushi.  The size of the extra tip to the chef appears to be up to the
patron.  It is interesting to note that I read on a couple of sites
that tipping at restaurants is seldom seen in Japan.

Then there's this from Guerrilla Sushi Tactics at (I
thoroughly enjoyed this article):

"Seventh, if you've decided that this sushi chef is someone you want
to work with and learn from (this is just like choosing a
psychoanalyst), ask the sushi chef his name, tell him yours (or
earnestly present a business card with both hands), and give him
twenty bucks (unless he's the owner, in which case no tip is
necessary). Go back soon to reinforce his memory of you, but this time
allow him to choose all your fish (the procedure known as "omakase")."

I hope this information proves to be of assistance.


restaurant manners japanese  [Google search]

Japanese Sushi and manners in a sushi restaurant

restaurant manners japanese sushi chef [Google search]

SoYouWanna enjoy sushi, pt IV

tip sushi chef  [Google search]
://  "Guerrilla Sushi Tactics"

Clarification of Answer by journalist-ga on 27 Aug 2002 15:20 PDT
Thank you for your generous rating of my research amd I hope the
information proved enlightening.
kord-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

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