A lot of customers follow restrictive diets or have likes and dislikes that lead them to ask for substitutions, but the chef at a high-end sushi restaurant in Japan was stunned this week when a woman came in and asked that her sushi be prepared with no rice.
According to Rocket News 24, the incident was observed by renowned manga creator Kazuo Koike, who took to Twitter to complain about a woman that he says he saw ask the chef to “hold the rice” at an expensive sushi restaurant where he was enjoying lunch.
Koike describes the other customer as a well-dressed elderly woman, and he said she was halfway through her meal when she notified the staff that she was on a low-carb diet and asked them to “hold the rice.”
“The chef and the other customers froze in place,” Koike wrote. “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.’ You’ve got to show respect to people who make things, after all.”
As Rocket News 24 points out, sushi specifically refers to vinegared rice. Sliced raw fish without any rice is its own thing, and it’s called “sashimi.” Some restaurants serve both sushi and sashimi, but others do not. It sounds like the woman was in the latter type of restaurant and may have insulted the chef by asking him to just toss sliced fish for her sushi on a plate like some sort of half-hearted attempt at sashimi.
It sounds like an embarrassing situation for the customer, but it was far from the worst etiquette gaffe a sushi customer has ever made. Last year a student made headlines when she went to Sukiyabashi Jiro--arguably the most famous sushi restaurant in the world, and certainly a very expensive one--and asked the chef to only serve her cooked sushi.