Sushi for Newbies: Things You Need to Know Before Ordering

We’ve all felt a bit intimidated once or twice by all the unfamiliar terms typical to Japanese menus. If you aren’t quite sure about the difference between maki and nigiri or are clueless on the best sushi for newbies, things you need to know before ordering are listed in this short guide.  

Continue reading to find out what exactly sushi is and its four main types, and get some ideas on what to order if you’re new to Japanese cuisine. 

What Exactly is Sushi?

Rolls of rice topped with slivers of raw fish are likely what comes to your mind when someone mentions “sushi.” However, sushi doesn’t have to have fish to be sushi. The Japanese term refers to rolls of seasoned sushi rice, which can have egg, fish, vegetables, and other garnish. This is why for sushi chefs and sushi lovers, it’s all about the rice. A good piece of sushi that melts in your mouth is all thanks to fluffy, short-grain sushi rice.

The 4 Main Types of Sushi

  1. Maki 
    This is probably what sushi is for most people. Maki is rice and filling made into rolls and wrapped with seaweed. Fillings can be anything but the most popular are avocado, roe (fish eggs), cooked shellfish, and of course, raw fish. Maki is traditionally eaten by hand, but it’s also acceptable to use chopsticks.
  2. Nigiri
    A nigiri is a small rice mound topped with a bit of wasabi and, oftentimes, raw fish. Nigiri is the Japanese term for “grip,” which is how the mounds are measured and made by hand. It’s typically served in twos and eaten in a single bite.
  3. Temaki
    Temaki is maki shaped into a cone instead of a roll. It’s also popularly referred to as hand rolls and eaten by hand like maki.
  4. Uramaki 
    Uramaki is like an inverted maki. Instead of having the seaweed wrapping the rice, uramaki has the rice outside to wrap the seaweed and filling. Common garnishes include roe and sesame seeds.

Best Sushi for Newbies to Order


If it’s your first time to eat raw fish, don’t go right away for traditional sushi, like nigiri. Raw fish takes a while to get used to, so it’s best to start with maki or uramaki. Many restaurants also serve Americanized versions of these rolls that will likely fit your palate.

Here are some sushi perfect for first-timers:

  • California Roll – imitation crab, cucumber, avocado, and roe (on the outside)
  • Philadelphia Roll – raw salmon, cream cheese, and avocado
  • Boston Roll – poached shrimp, cucumber, avocado, and tobiko
  • Spicy Tuna Roll – raw tuna, spicy mayo, and avocado (optional)
  • Shrimp Tempura Roll – shrimp tempura, avocado, and sweet soy sauce (aka eel sauce)
  • Vegetable rolls – these can be any combination of veggies or fruits but the most popular options are mango avocado, cucumber, and asparagus

Thinking of having a unique sushi experience in Las Vegas? Contact Naked Sushi today and let’s talk about some amazing ideas for an extraordinary sushi party in the city.