Types of Sushi

Struggling how to choose from the different types of sushi available? Wondering what makes the various types of sushi different and which is the right choice for you?

Contrary to popular belief, the long list of sushi types served up in Japan are not simply the same dish presented differently. Each type of sushi has its own unique characteristics and points of appeal.

Detailed below, we’ve provided a basic overview of just a few of the main types of sushi available. If you still have any questions regarding the types of sushi we serve, contact a member of the IRO Sushi team before placing your order.

Chirashi Sushi

Chirashi Sushi is similar in many ways to a poke bowl, though with an unmistakable Japanese twist.  The dish consists primarily of a bed of sushi rice, upon which sits a bright and colourful array of toppings. 

Classic ingredients featured in Chirashi Sushi include raw and stir fried vegetables, omelettes, raw fish, tempura prawns and other types of seafood. Chirashi Sushi is a healthy, delicious and satisfying dish, which is a staple on the dining scene in Japan and varies significantly from one region to the next. 


Gunkan Sushi

Gunkan Sushi – which literally translates as “Mothership” Sushi – is made by forming sushi rice into a small ball, which is then wrapped in a sheet of nori and topped with the diner’s ingredients of choice.

The sushi takes its name from the fact that the finished result looks somewhat like a warship, depending on how it is topped. A wide variety of fresh vegetables, pickles and other ingredients can be used to top Gunkan Sushi, but the most common toppings (which also create the most impressive effect) are raw fish and caviar.

Ikura Sushi

Ikura Sushi is one of the most popular forms of Gunkan Sushi, prepared in the traditional way and topped with large pieces of salmon roe – aka ikura.  Prior to assembly, the ikura is usually marinated in soy sauce and presented with a cucumber slice on top.

The use of ikura is commonplace in prestigious sushi restaurants and takeaway joints worldwide, due to the combination of its fabulous salty flavour and jewel-like appearance. 

Inari Sushi

Inari Sushi – also commonly referred to as an Inari Roll – is unlike any other type of sushi. Instead of being wrapped in a sheet of nori, the sushi rice and the other ingredients of choice are stuffed into seasoned pockets of tofu.

These tofu pockets are then dropped briefly into a deep fryer, in order to be served crispy and golden brown. Inari Sushi is packed with protein and deeply satisfying, making it a staple in bento boxes around Japan. 


Kakinoha Sush

Kakinoha Sushi – which translates literally as “sushi with persimmon leaf” – is exactly as its name describes. A speciality dish designed to marry the land (the rice), the mountains (the leaf) and the sea (the fish), Kakinoha Sushi can be made with mackerel, salmon or in some instances eel. 

Traditionally wrapped with painstaking precision in a persimmon leaf and presented in a wooden box, Kakinoha Sushi is one of the most eye-catching sushi variants and a true classic enjoyed by connoisseurs.

Kyoto Sushi

Kyoto Sushi originates from a place in Japan situated far from the sea, where the locals came up with their own version of sushi to compensate for the distance. Consequently, Kyoto Sushi combines sushi rice with fish that has been preserved, using vinegar and seasoning in small quantities.

In addition, the nori is replaced with kombu, when the dish is prepared maki style. Though Kyoto Sushi is more commonly served in a similar style to nigiri sushi. 

Maguro Sushi

Maguro Sushi is an exquisite type of nigiri sushi, which consists of hand-pressed sushi rice finished with slices of the highest quality tuna on top. 

It is a dish that can be prepared with a variety of different tuna cuts, with a delicate flavour and a stunning appearance set off by the bright colour of the tuna. Some of the more prestigious versions of Maguro Sushi made with the most expensive tuna in the world can pack a serious price in Japan.

Maki Sushi

Maki Sushi is what most people would refer to as the ‘classic’ type of sushi everybody knows and loves in the west. The basic formula for Maki Sushi is vinegar sushi rice, fish, vegetables and other ingredients, rolled up inside a sheet of nori and sliced into bite sized pieces.

Though traditionally associated with raw fish, Maki Sushi can also be prepared with almost any cooked fish or without any seafood whatsoever. Many classic Maki Sushi recipes are suitable for vegetarians and even vegans, such as avocado rolls, cucumber rolls and so on.

Nare Sushi

Nare Sushi is acknowledged by most as the first type of sushi ever created, made by way of the lactic fermentation of fish with rice and salt. It is a true speciality form of sushi, which dates back to times when those preparing it did not have access to refrigeration technology.

Today, the modern take on Nare Sushi typically involves hand-wrapping vinegared mackerel overseas and rice, before being wrapped in Arundo donax leaves.

Nigiri Sushi

One of the simplest and most revered forms of sushi, Nigiri Sushi goes back to basics with the bare minimum ingredients. Nigiri Sushi is one of the most photogenic forms of sushi, wherein a beautifully prepared slice of fish is used to top a mound of perfectly formed rice. 

Some Nigiri Sushi recipes include a small quantity of wasabi between the rice and the fish, or a strip of toasted nori. In many sushi restaurants, the finest cuts of fish with the most striking presentation are reserved for Nigiri Sushi and Sashimi. 

Oshi Sushi

Oshi Sushi swaps the usual curves of the classic sushi roll for something much more angular. The sushi rice and all accompanying toppings are pressed using a special mould, resulting in perfect rectangles which are then sliced and served in the normal way.

This eye-catching form of sushi is something of a tribute to the traditional method of preserving fish by packing it with rice in tight square or rectangle boxes. Oshi Sushi can be made using almost any toppings, with options available to most dietary preferences. 

Sasa Sushi

The Sasa Sushi preparation method shares similarities to Nigiri, in the that the diner’s ingredients of choice are sliced thinly and placed on top of the rice. With Sasa Sushi, however, the rice is formed into a perfect square, which can then be topped with an even broader range of ingredients.

Temaki Sushi

Temaki Sushi – aka “Hand Roll Sushi” – is the iconic and unmistakable cone-shaped sushi enjoyed worldwide. Making Temaki Sushi involves taking a large sheet of roasted nori, before wrapping it around a filling consisting of sushi rice, raw fish, cooked fish, seafood, fresh vegetables, pickles and so on.

The popularity of Temaki Sushi is owed to the fact that it is designed to be eaten by hand, making it a popular healthy alternative to traditional fast food.

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