Sushi Unrolled: A Lesson in Sushi Vocabulary

Japanese seafood sushi set on black background

The Japanese thrive on seafood and we have as much love for seafood here in Australia. Sushi, which usually features the best of seafood in the Japanese diet, has also proven time and time again that it is more than food – it is also an art form. Thus it comes to no surprise that in Melbourne, a city of arts and culture, sushi has become a popular snack and meal adopted by people for not only in-house fine dining but also on-the- go.

Although even for those who love sushi, it can be a little difficult remembering the name of your favourite type. There is wide variety of sushi available that also comes with Japanese names and vocabulary. So here is a brief guide the Japanese vocabulary you may find on sushi menus.


The all-encompassing name for the food art form of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients such as sashimi, vegetables and sometimes, tropical fruits are used in Japan. The one ingredient that is common in all sushi varieties and presentations is rice.


Literally translated to ‘pierced body’ in Japanese, sashimi is the delicacy very fresh raw meat or fish sliced into thin pieces and considered the finest dish by Japanese chefs. In a formal Japanese meal, it is often served as the first course or entrée before other strong flavours affect the palate. It is also typicaly served with a dipping sauce, such as soy sauce, and condiments, such as wasabi paste and grated fresh ginger. It can also be presented as a main course accompanied with rice and soup. Some seafood used as sashimi include, tuna, ocean trout and prawn.


It is the Japanese name for laver, an edible seaweed species, and is finished as a paper-like form through a shredding and rack drying process for the purpose of making sushi. It is often featured as a wrap for sushi, or decoration or garnish on Japanese dishes.


The funny looking concoction is a pouch of friend tofu filled with sushi rice alone. Normally, the pouch is a deep-fried tofu, but other regional variations include using a thin omelette instead. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have been a fan of fried tofu.


This green, pungent and tongue-numbing mustard paste is made from the stem of a plant sometimes described as ‘Japanese horseradish’. It is famous for producing vapours that go up the nasal passage more than the tongue. If you’re feeling ambitious and hoping to make your own sushi, check out our range of the freshest fish and seafood in Melbourne.