Fact Checked

What are Sushi Dishes?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Sushi dishes are dishes which have been designed specifically for serving sushi, a Japanese specialty which is popular around the world. These dishes are usually used in establishments where sushi is served so that the sushi can be presented in the traditional style, and some people use them at home for sushi service and dinner parties. There are several sources for sushi dishes, including stores which specialize in Asian housewares and restaurant suppliers.

Several features make sushi dishes unique from other dishes. Classically, sushi dishes are flat, so that the sushi can rest evenly on the dish, and many are square and rectangular in shape to facilitate the aesthetic presentation of square rolls of sushi. The sides of the dish may gently curve up, or the dish may be totally flat, and the dish can have feet or lie flush with the table. Sushi dishes typically include sushi plates, used for serving the sushi, along with condiment dishes for shoyu, pickled vegetables, wasabi, and other things commonly served with sushi. They may be sold together with these accessories in a sushi set.

Nigiri sushi assortment.
Nigiri sushi assortment.

There are also some traditional constraints on the design of sushi dishes. Japanese culture places a very high value on aesthetics and cultural traditions, and sushi is no exception to this rule. Sushi dishes generally coordinate with the season they are served in, and they are also designed to complement the sushi which is served on them. Different choices in glaze color, finish, and patterns may be subtle, but important in traditional presentation; fall dishes, for example, would not be used to serve sushi in spring.

Two futomaki rolls.
Two futomaki rolls.

Porcelain, stoneware, and other clays are a common choice for sushi dishes, whether they are made in a traditionalist style or by a modern designer who prefers dishes with a more contemporary look. It is also possible to find wooden dishes which may be lacquered, painted, or otherwise decorated, along with plastic dishes. Plastic dishes are sometimes used in restaurant environments to reduce breakage.

Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.

It is certainly possible to use ordinary dishes for serving sushi, especially if they are of a plain design which will allow the natural aesthetics of the sushi to be clearly seen. Sushi dishes can also be used for serving other foods, especially Asian-inspired cuisine. For cooks who prefer more playful dishware, novelty sushi dishes with colorful patterns and themes are available, along with coordinating condiment bowls and chopsticks.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@runner101 - I agree that giving sushi dish sets or sushi serving dishes is a wonderful idea for friends and family that love to entertain. One thing I would like to add is to make the gift more personal - add accessories! (I'm always a fan of accessories.)

Some accessories to add to this gift could be colorful napkins which complement the dishes or napkin rings if you know they already have too many linens. If they do not have cloth napkins, I think they make great gifts, as they are environmentally friendly.

I think my favorite idea to accessorize the dishes is to add personalized chopsticks!

You can order chopsticks with the gift recipient's name or nickname or if you are buying a last minute gift; chopsticks with simply a unique design to accentuate the sushi dish set can likely be bought at a specialty store (the personalized chopsticks I have only seen online).


@manykitties2 - I love the idea of buying a family member who loves to entertain a sushi dish set!

I have always seen sushi dish sets and thought that they were beautiful, as the ones I have seen have been a strong glaze color and made of thick clay or porcelain material.

And keeping with the Japanese tradition of color coordinating their dinnerware with the season, a deep red set would be a great choice for Christmas.

I had never heard of the Japanese tradition of using dishes and food which match the season they are in, are there any other Asian countries who have adopted or may have even started this tradition?


I absolutely love sushi but a few years back I became a vegetarian and realized with just a little bit of surprise that veggie sushi is pretty disappointing. I have been to a few places that make a valiant effort at preparing quality veggie sushi, but without the fish or other meat it is really not the same. Rice and sea weed is hard to get excited about.


I know that a lot of restaurants use sushi dishes even when they are serving food that is not Japanese food. I think that these dishes tend to give the meal a real sophisticated look and can make macaroni and cheese look expensive. I love these plates.

I have also seen these plates displayed on the breakfast bars in a few new builder homes that I have recently seen, and they are great staging accessories for any home. This is especially true if the d├ęcor has a lot of clean lines and is more Asian inspired.


@Monika - I agree. Atmosphere definitely adds to any dining experience, and the dishes are part of the atmosphere!

My favorite sushi restaurant has plates with seasonal designs on them, just like the article describes. Even the little dishes that you pour the soy sauce into have some kind of design on them! I really consider those plates works of art, and I admire them every time I eat at that restaurant!


I love sushi and one of my favorite things about a few of my local sushi restaurants are the plates! It sounds strange, but there is one place in particular that has really well designed sushi dishes!

The dishes are flat so they sit flush on the table, but the sides are wavy. It looks neat, and I think it really complements the way the sushi looks sitting on the plate.

In my opinion, nice looking dishes really add to the experience of going to a nice sushi restaurant!


@manykitties2 - That sounds like such a lovely gift. There is nothing nicer than a good set of sushi dishes for entertaining.

Another thing I really like that I have in my kitchen is a sushi maker that I picked up really cheaply at a going out of business sale last month. It has made my making sushi ventures so much easier. Basically it is just a little plastic form that helps me get the shapes of my sushi perfect. I have really struggled with squashed sushi and having some of it turn out too thin or too fat. I may actually invest in some of the sushi makers that allow you to make cute shapes.


Having proper sushi dishes in your kitchen can be great for those nights that you are looking to entertain people. Japanese dishes are always best when they are prepared in the appropriate manner and served up to look lovely.

My sister gave me a set of Japanese sushi dishes for Christmas last year because she knows how much I like to entertain. The sushi dish set she purchased for me came with some lovely display platters and plenty of little dishes for dips such as wasabi. What I liked most were the matching chopstick holders and chopsticks that came with the set.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Nigiri sushi assortment.
      Nigiri sushi assortment.
    • Two futomaki rolls.
      By: BlueOrange Studio
      Two futomaki rolls.
    • Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
      By: creative soul
      Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
    • Some sushi has crab in it.
      By: nalineimages
      Some sushi has crab in it.