The Best Way to Eat a Hand Roll

The Best Way to Eat a Hand Roll

Hand rolls, also known as Temaki, are a type of popular sushi dish. Hand rolls were named in a very straightforward manner, as hand rolls are meant to be eaten with your hands; unlike other forms of sushi. This type of Japanese dish has blown up in popularity over the last 10 years. Now, almost every city you visit will have some sort of sushi restaurant. People that do not have a nearby sushi restaurant are starting to try their hand at making sushi themselves; some being very successful and others failing miserably. Let’s continue to the topic, the best way to eat a Hand roll.

A fact about sushi that many people don’t know is that sushi was created as a type of street food meant for people who wanted a quick snack on the go. However, if you are planning on dining at a high-end sushi restaurant; you will need to know the proper dining etiquette. If you want to impress your friends when you dine at a sushi restaurant; you need to learn how to eat a hand roll.

What is a Hand Roll and How do I Eat it?

Hand rolls are a type of sushi dish that is traditionally meant to be eaten with your hands. Now, when most of us think of sushi, we think of the small rolls of rice and fish that are meant to be eaten with chopsticks. Hand rolls are the exception. Hand rolls are made out of seaweed, also known as nori; that is wrapped in a cone-like shape and is filled with a variety of food, including:

A Few Main Ingredients

  • Raw fish: the most common type of fish included in a hand roll is tuna, shrimp, salmon, crab, and scallops.
  • Cooked meat: if you are not a fan of raw fish, you can also try a hand roll made with cooked meat, including cooked chicken and shrimp tempura.
  • Vegetables: you will usually find green onions, shiso leaves, cucumbers, bell peppers, snow peas, sprouts, and/or carrots in your hand roll.
  • Sauce: hand rolls are traditionally paired with sauces on the side, most commonly soy sauce or wasabi.

The best way to eat a hand roll is to eat it as soon as it is served. If you wait too long to eat the hand roll; the seaweed wrapping can become soggy and the hand roll may fall apart or become difficult to eat. When a hand roll is served fresh, the seaweed wrapping will have a delicious and crunchy texture; which will let you know that you are eating a freshly prepared hand roll.

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Because hand rolls are shaped in the form of a cone, it is really easy to pick up the hand roll and eat it with your hands. Unlike other types of sushi, you do not have to worry about offending anyone if you do not use chopsticks. Actually, you will be expected to use your hands, as the hand roll is too big to be eaten with chopsticks.

Once you have been served your hand rolls, you will also be served a side of sauce. You can choose to dip your hand roll into the sauce before eating it, or you can pour a small amount of the sauce into the hand roll. I prefer to dip the hand roll in the sauce; as pouring the sauce over the hand roll can sometimes cause the seaweed wrapping to become soggy.

When you go to take a bite of the hand roll, start with the top and work your way down. Although this may be a given, you should never eat the hand roll starting at the tip of the cone. This will lead to your fillings falling out of the hand roll. Think of eating a hand roll like a taco. Slightly tip the hand roll to the side and take a bite of the top, and there you have it!

What is the Difference Between Hand Rolls and Sushi Rolls?

As I mentioned before, hand rolls are a type of sushi that is rolled into a cone and filled with fish, meat, and vegetables. Sushi rolls, also known as Maki, are usually made with the same fillings. The difference is in the way that they are wrapped. Sushi rolls are also usually wrapped with a seaweed wrapping, but instead of being in the shape of a cone; they are rolled together using a bamboo rolling mat. This will leave you with a roll that has two open ends, rather than a hand roll that only has one.

Once the sushi has been rolled, it will be cut into several small pieces. Sushi rolls are meant to be eaten with chopsticks. You can choose to dip the sushi rolls in soy sauce or wasabi, the same as you would with hand rolls.

What is the Proper Dining Etiquette at a Sushi Restaurant?

When you visit a classy Japanese restaurant; it is important to be familiar with their dining etiquette in order to avoid offending the chefs and embarrassing your party. For example, if you need to pass someone a slice of sushi, use the end of your chopsticks to pass it; not the end that is used to put sushi in your mouth.

Also, do not take the sushi apart. Sushi is meant to be eaten in one bite. It is considered disrespectful to pick apart the sushi and eat it in multiple bites. Hand rolls, however, are too big and do not need to be eaten in one bite.


Hand rolls are a delicious type of sushi that can be found at almost any Japanese restaurant. The key to enjoying hand rolls is eating them fresh so that the seaweed wrapping does not become soggy. If you are planning on creating sushi at home, hand rolls are by far the easiest choice. Hand rolls do not require you to use a bamboo rolling mat, which means you can simply wrap the fillings in the seaweed wrapping and enjoy!

If you visit a Japanese restaurant with a chef who makes the sushi in front of you, don’t be afraid to ask the chef questions about the dish. Most chefs will be more than happy to share their culture and cooking techniques with you. If you’ve never eaten sushi before, make sure you don’t go crazy with the sauces. Traditional Japanese sauces can have a very strong flavor and ruin the delicate taste of sushi if overdone.

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