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nigiri vs Sashimi

Nigiri vs. Sashimi – Difference and Comparison

At Rika Moon, we serve the best of Japanese fusion cuisine. Seafood is an important part of Japanese culture, so our menu is typically filled with seafood. But here is the thing about Japanese seafood; they tend to get confusing.

When you visit Rika Moon, a peek at our menu will reveal different seafood. Many of our clients end up ordering either sashimi or Nigiri.

However, most people can’t tell the difference between these two. This uncertainty is usually an issue when you like a particular type of seafood. You could order the wrong thing if you are not careful.

And this isn’t your fault. We have been making Japanese inspired seafood for years; most look alike and have similar preparations and ingredients. This similarity makes it hard to know the difference sometimes.

So let’s look at the similarities and differences between two often mistaken and usually compared seafood; sashimi and nigiri.


Seafood is food obtained from the sea and sea animals. Most times, the core ingredients of preparing these foods are one form of sea animal or the other, like shellfish, crabs, etc.

The most popular of this seafood is sushi. Sushi is often the center of most seafood orders, loved and accepted by many.

What started as a simple meal in Japan is now a mainstay in Japanese culture. It is available in many forms, including the eponymous nigiri sushi.

Basic Sushi Ingredients

The primary ingredients for sushi are rice, vegetables, avocado, and many others. There are different ways of preparing sushi, and they all have distinctive tastes and flavors. Most sushi restaurants make use of raw seafood.

The sashimi and nigiri dishes are often called sushi, although only nigiri qualifies as sushi. At Rika Moon, we prepare our sashimi and nigiri with fresh fish such as bluefin tuna, pickled ginger, daikon radish, shiso leaves, etc.

Differentiating Sea Foods.

If you are not a sushi chef or seafood aficionado, you might not be able to differentiate the different types of seafood.

This is why we do not find it particularly surprising that many of our customers can’t tell the difference between sashimi and Nigiri.

This uncertainty is because sashimi and nigiri are prepared with thinly sliced fish. Both meals are prepared with fresh raw fish, not the normal seared or cooked fish..

Why are Nigiri and Sashimi Different?

As much as these two dishes are quite similar, they are certainly not the same. Each food is different based on its preparation, taste, and ingredients.

Each dish is unique in its way. The combination of flavors is a wildly different experience depending on how the meal is prepared. Both nigiri and sashimi are distinct and flavorful in their ways.

So what makes people always confuse both of them for each other? Well, we will find out here!



Sashimi is a Japanese delicacy that is prepared with thinly sliced fish. Usually, the food is served raw in a very attractive way. Unlike nigiri sushi rolls, it is served without rice.

The fishes used are mostly salmon, yellowtail, or blue-finned tuna, each of which can be eaten raw.

They are mostly made out of a fish’s belly. However, you can also find Sashimi made from different meat, including chicken and horse.


Usually, sashimi is served raw with ginger, wasabi, or soy sauce, depending on the person’s choice and appetite. This meal contains raw fish, making it succulent and rich in healthy fat nutrients.

Nigiri sushi

Nigiri sushi

Nigiri translates to “two fingers” in Japanese, just an indication of the amount of sushi rice used to prepare the dish. There are different kinds of nigiri, with those prepared with salmon and halibut being the most popular.

Most people may go for the salmon dish because of its soothing taste and cool sensation when it melts in your mouth.

Combining that with perfectly prepared salty vinegared rice can be very delicious.


Like the sashimi, the nigiri also contains thinly sliced fresh raw fish, but unlike the Sahimi, the nigiri is mostly served with rice, preferably vinegared rice.

Nigiri is sometimes prepared with seaweed and shredded daikon radish, placed between the layers of fish or very little wasabi, giving it a unique flavor.

What differentiates Nigiri from Sashimi?

Although nigiri and sashimi are similar, many other differences range from taste to preparations to ingredients. One of the major differences is that nigiri is served with rice, while sashimi is served individually without rice.

The fact that sashimi is served without rice is why it is not considered as a type of sushi. Because, unlike what most people think, the main ingredient for sushi is vinegared rice.

It is the only constant, while the fillings/toppings might change depending on the type of sushi.

Major Differences Between Nigiri and Sashimi

  • Sashimi is served individually, while the nigiri is served on rice.
  • Sashimi is not considered sushi, while nigiri is a form of sushi.
  • Sashimi is usually more expensive than nigiri.

Comparing Sushi, Sashimi, and Nigiri

Differentiating seafood from each other can be quite a lot to handle. This difficulty is because of the similarity in looks and ingredients. Moreso, only some people know which and why some are different.

Usually, most people give the name “Sushi” to any seafood with vegetables, fish, or rice. However, sushi refers mostly to seafood served with rice.

There are different types, all of which have a slight peculiarity in ingredients and preparations.

For instance, Nigiri is sushi because it is served with vinegar rice. However, sashimi, prepared with thin slices of fish and no rice, is not sushi.

Other Types of Sushi

Other than nigiri sushi, there are many other forms of sushi in the United States; examples are the Makizushi Sushi and the California sushi rolls.

These sushi rolls mostly contain vegetables, rice, fish, and other ingredients that give them a unique flavor.

However, even though nigiri is also considered sushi, it is not rolled in the same fashion as makizushi and California sushi. It is also good that you know sushi only sometimes contains fish.

The ingredients of distinction are mostly rice and vegetables. But the sashimi and nigiri always require fish for their distinctive preparations.


What is the main difference between sashimi and nigiri?

Sashimi is prepared with only fish or meat, while nigiri is prepared with rice and fish.

What is the right way to eat nigiri sushi?

The most appropriate way to eat Nigiri sushi In Japan is to dip the nigiri fish in soy sauce. Most people eat fish with rice which is okay but not the standard way.

Fish should be eaten with soy because, unlike rice, the fish doesn’t absorb the soy sauce too much.

What type of nigiri is the best?

Usually, it boils down to preference, as there are different varieties of nigiri sushi. The type of nigiri is based on the fish used to prepare it.

For instance, Ahi nigiri is prepared with raw tuna; Aji nigiri with Spanish Mackerel; Anago nigiri with salt water eel, and many more.

How do you eat nigiri? With your hands or chopsticks?

Traditionally, sushi is regarded as finger food, which means it should be eaten with one’s hands. Hence, nigiri is mostly eaten with the hands. Sashimi, however, is eaten with chopsticks.

Final Thoughts

What makes nigiri and sashimi similar is mostly the thinly-sliced fish that can be eaten raw sometimes. These fishes make it very difficult to differentiate sashimi from nigiri.

However, always note that nigiri is a Japanese meal with vinegared rice and raw fish. In contrast, sashimi is mostly made from quality fish that are always thinly sliced.

At Rika moon, we believe that sea foods are nice regardless of occasion and type. Nigiri is a delicious meal, as are the sashimi and other traditional sushi recipes. And our chefs know how to make them taste even better.


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107 Duncan Avenue, New York
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