The Difference Between Nigiri and Sashimi

Sushi & Nigiri

When you look through a RuSans menu, you’ll notice you have hundreds of options to choose from. Even on the list of sushi, there are dozens of different choices, from the kind of meat used to how it is served. On every sushi menu, you’ll see two different lists: nigiri and sashimi. Though the difference between these terms is often a mystery to those who are new to sushi, they are quite different. Let us explain:

Nigiri Sushi

The word “nigiri” translates from Japanese to, “two fingers.” This term refers to the amount of rice used to make nigiri; it fits into the chef’s two fingers while he’s pressing it into form. While traditional nigiri is made with raw fish, it can also be accompanied with seared or cooked fish (and other seafood, such as shrimp) as well. Traditionally, only fish is considered nigiri, but other meats can be used instead.

In addition, nigiri is always served as just sushi rice with fish over it, sometimes with wasabi in between for additional flavor. If your sushi is rolled, it is not nigiri. Though nigiri is traditionally served in pairs, you can order it by the piece at RuSans; that way, you can try them all!


The word “sashimi” comes from the Japanese for “pierced flesh. This refers either to how it is sometimes served with the tail and fin in the fish to identify it, or how the fish for sashimi is caught. While nigiri is served over rice, sashimi refers to just thin slices of meat. As such, it is not technically sushi, since “sushi” refers to the rice used. However, sashimi is an experience all its own.

While nigiri is usually served with just wasabi, ginger and soy sauce on the side, sashimi is an art form. Though the name refers to the meat itself, a plate of sashimi is all about presentation. It may be served with any number of garnishes to create a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. Because no two fish taste the exact same, and even different cuts of the same fish have different flavors, every plate of sashimi is a unique culinary adventure.

At RuSans, our chefs pride expertly prepare nigiri and sashimi every day. Come in today to experience the best Japanese seafood restaurant in Kennesaw!

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