I once read the proper etiquette for eating sushi. One rule that stuck with me was that it was considered impolite to pour more soy sauce than you could finish with your sushi. Wasting soy sauce is definitely frowned upon. The Japanese must have a culture of not wasting food, as one restaurant in Japan, Hachikyo, fines customers who don’t finish all of their fish roe in one of their specialty dishes. This beautiful dish is simplicity itself, white rice topped with well-seasoned fish roe, so few find it hard to finish.

However, this was the first time I'd heard of a restaurant fining customers for not finishing every last bite! I think in America, with the focus on dieting and losing weight, the mantra is far more likely to be “It is better to leave food on your plate, then eat too much.” Perhaps our problem is the huge servings many restaurants serve.

But I appreciate the reasoning behind this strict rule. A local blogger explains that it is because the working conditions of the fishermen who catch the fish for the roe are harsh; it is dangerous work. It is not unknown for fishermen to die. With this in mind, it's considered disrespectful to even leave a single grain of rice in your bowl. Before you order, the rules are clearly explained. You are also not allowed to touch your rice (which is served first) until they have topped it with the fish roe. This is done with great ceremony, and customers repeat a sea shanty or work song after the servers.

The quirky blogger who visited the restaurant videotaped his experience in the video below. It is in Japanese, but you don’t need any translation to see that beautiful bowl of fish roe!

(He wears a mask to protect his identity, something this blogger never thought to do! Must keep in mind for the future. ;-) )

Japanese restaurant fines customers who don't finish their food
Your mother always told you to clean your plate. This restaurant expects no less.