How to Eat Washoku
A bite of rice is taken after sampling one of the other dishes.
Rice is at the core of traditional Japanese cuisine, or washoku. A typical washoku menu consists of ichiju san-sai: one soup and three dishes, served with rice and pickles—but what is the best way to enjoy this tempting array? To begin, take a bite of rice and a sip of soup and another bite of rice; then take a bite of one of the side dishes. The general rule is to return to the rice after sampling one of the other dishes, and it is desirable to refrain from eating the side dishes consecutively. It is best not to consume the entire portion of rice or any of the side dishes alone, so as to balance the pace of the meal while allowing the assorted flavors to complement each other. This method allows the diner to mix the simple taste of rice along with more richly seasoned side dishes, and to experience favorite blends of flavors. When eating sashimi, for example, the intensity or purity of its taste can be adapted to personal preference, based on varying amounts and combinations of wasabi, soy sauce and rice.