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Maki vs. Sushi

Maki vs. Sushi: What is the Difference?

Looking through the sushi menu of our menu here at Rika Moon, you might need clarification when you see the variety of available sushi. Maki and sushi are popular Japanese traditional dishes that are similar but, in reality, slightly different.

Sushi is a Japanese delicacy consisting of vinegared rice and other ingredients like seafood or vegetables. In comparison, maki is a type of sushi that is cylindrical and wrapped in nori or seaweed.

Let’s take a closer look at both.

What Is Maki?


Maki or maki sushi (maki zushi) is a type of sushi that is rolled up and round. The term Maki sushi translates to rolled sushi. Several anecdotes claim that Maki sushi was created when members of the Yakuza needed an easier way to eat their sushi.

Maki sushi consists of vinegared rice called the sushi Meshi layered over raw or cooked seafood or vegetables called the sushi neta wrapped around a seaweed called nori using a bamboo mat. Maki sushi can also be wrapped in a thin omelet, cucumber, and soy paper.

Maki sushi is what comes to mind when people think about sushi rolls.

Maki sushi roll has a variety of seafood filling that can be used, and some common ones include

  • Spicy Tuna
  • Freshwater Eel
  • Shrimp tempura
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sea bream

Other toppings include crab sticks, poached shrimp, and imitation crabs.

Vegetables can also be used as a topping for those who prefer a vegan dish. Common vegetable toppings include

  • Cucumber
  • Natty
  • Shinko

Some sushi can have more than one filling, such as the dragon roll with shrimp tempura and avocado fillings.

Types of Maki Sushi

Maki sushi is rice rolled in seaweed. However, chefs have taken this simple definition and created different forms of the traditional sushi roll. The common types of maki rolls include:


Futomaki is the largest type of maki sushi. The name means large or fat rolls. It is about two inches in diameter. Futomaki is very popular and comes to mind when people think about maki sushi. It is made with vinegared rice and nori with various other fillings.


Hosomaki sushi is the smallest maki sushi, with a one-inch diameter. The name stands for thin rolls. It is fast food because it is small and readily found in convenience stores and supermarkets. It is made with sushi rice, nori, and a single seafood filling.

Examples of hosomaki include

  • Natto maki – The topping in this type of maki is fermented soybeans
  • Shinko maki – Shinko maki’s main filling is pickled yellow daikon
  • Keppa maki – Here, the filling is a slice of cucumber, which is suitable for a vegetarian

Temaki Sushi

Temaki (hand roll) sushi is a type of sushi with a distinctive cone shape like that of ice cream. It contains the basic maki ingredients like vinegared rice and a covering of dried seaweed (nori) alongside a filling of raw or cooked seaweed, which is hand rolled into a cone shape.


Uramaki (inside-out roll) sushi is a type of maki sushi that is made inside out. The vinegared flavored rice covers the entire dish instead of the nori like that of a regular maki and with a filling of your choice. The filling could be tuna, salmon, crabs, or even vegetables. Sesame seeds can also be added as a topping. Popular examples are the Philadelphia and California roll.

What Is Sushi?


Sushi is a popular Japanese cuisine found in most Japanese restaurants. Sushi comprises vinegar-flavored rice, cooked or raw seafood or vegetables, and other ingredients. It should be noted that the main ingredient in sushi is cooked rice and not sushi fillings.

Weirdly, sushi wasn’t originally a Japanese dish. The earliest mention of sushi is the narezushi, which originated in China. However, it became popularized as a Japanese dish, with different sushi chefs creating recipes based on the same principle of rice and fillings.

The components of sushi are Shuri and neta. Shuri refers to rice, which can be white or brown and cooked in vinegar, salt, and sugar, while the other ingredients are referred to as neta. Various seasonings like wasabi or soy sauce can be added when serving sushi.

Different Types Of Sushi

Sushi can be used to describe a variety of dishes. Below are some examples


Chirashi translates to “scattered” in Japanese. This type of sushi means “scattered sushi.” Chirashizushi or chirashi is a bowl of vinegared rice covered with toppings. These toppings include garnishes like sashimi, cucumber, salmon, or boiled omelet.

Although it means scattered sushi, the toppings are scattered with neatness and precision

Chirashizushi is sometimes confused with keisedon, which is also a Japanese dish that is made with rice topped with fish or other seafood but the major difference between chirashi and keisedon is that chirashi is made with rice cooked with vinegar, sugar, and salt, while keisedon is made with plain rice.

Popular examples of the chirashizushi include

  • Edomae Chirashi – This is also called Tokyo style and has toppings of uncooked seafood like salmon, tuna, and scallops.
  • Gomoku Chirashi – This type of chirashi is also called Osaka style, and it is made with cooked seafood toppings like fish roe and lotus root.


Nigirizushi (hand-shaped sushi) is the first form of sushi, and it is referred to as “no surprise” sushi because of its simplest form. Nigirizushi, or nigiri sushi, is made of rice moulded by hand and a topping of raw or cooked seafood, usually thinly sliced fish. Both ingredients (rice and seafood) are needed to create a nice and perfect flavour.

Most times, nigiri sushi is topped with a slice of raw fish called sashimi, but the fish can be smoked, dried, or cooked depending on the consumer’s preference.

Common fish options for topping in nigiri sushi include

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Octopus
  • Eel


Inarizushi or Inari sushi is a type of sushi that contains vinegared sushi rice that is stuffed in little sacs of seasoned tofu called inari age, which is deep fried. The inari sushi differs from most sushi dishes because it has no fish topping.

Inari sushi also has the Tokyo and Osaka styles. The Tokyo-style Inari sushi is straw-bag in shape, and the sushi is completely enclosed in the inari age.

The Osaka style is triangular, looking like a straw bag. The rice is exposed underneath in the triangular-shaped Osaka-style inari sushi, while the rice is exposed at the top in the straw-bag-shaped Osaka-style inari sushi.

Due to the inarizushi ease of preparation and variability, it is a common finger food for parties and picnics and a popular item in a bento box.


Narezushi is a type of sushi that contains fermented fish, and it’s an original type of sushi where the fish is fermented for a long time, from months to years. Sushi rice is sometimes served together with fermented fish.

This type of sushi is not a favourite among customers due to its strong flavour.


Makizushi is also called nori sushi because of its characteristic seaweed used to wrap the vinegared flavoured rice. Maki sushi is a type of sushi that is made by placing the rice on top of the nori or seaweed and wrapped using a bamboo mat. It is also referred to as sushi rolls.

What are the Differences between Sushi and Maki?

Sushi differs from maki in several ways, from the ingredients used, the shape, the types, and even how it is served.

Below are noticeable differences between both Japanese dishes


Sushi comprises vinegared rice and other ingredients like seafood and vegetables. Maki is made up of sushi rice and also a toasted edible seaweed called nori.


Sushi comes in different shapes and sizes. Each different type of sushi has a distinct shape and comes in a different size. Maki is cylindrical or round.


Sushi includes a wide range of dishes like nigiri sushi, chirashi sushi, inari sushi, and the mentioned maki sushi or maki.

Maki is a variety of sushi, including futomaki, hosomaki, temaki, and uramaki.

How It Is Served 

Sushi is served in many different ways because of the various forms available. Maki is only served in cylindrical rolls, with the major difference between the types being the shape, size, and fillings.


Sushi menus can be very confusing, especially for people new to Japanese cuisine. But we cannot deny that sushi is popular. It comes in different varieties, each offering a different experience.

Another popular Japanese dish is Makizushi. It is usually compared to sushi because they share origins and have the same principle behind them. But the difference between sushi and maki sushi is simple. Maki sushi is a variety of sushi.

However, with the different types of sushi, it would not be fair to reduce Makizushi to just a form of sushi. It is another representation of how rich and interesting Japanese cuisine can be.

Here at Rika Moon, we give you various meals, including different types of Sushi. So when next you are here, order a plate of our sushi or maki. You’ll not be disappointed.


Laurent Fine dining,
107 Duncan Avenue, New York
Open: 09:00 am – 01:00 pm

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