How to Order Sushi Without Rice

Sushi is one of the most popular dishes from Japanese cuisine that has gained incredible international fame.

Sushi is made from small bits of raw fish, cold, rice seasoned with vinegar, and vegetables rolled in seaweed. It’s difficult to imagine a sushi roll without the rice, as it’s typically one of the main ingredients.

If you’re not a fan of rice or need to be mindful about it due to dietary restrictions, you might not know how to order sushi without rice. But I’m here to help, so let’s get rolling.

how to order sushi without rice

Will Sushi Restaurants Make Sushi Without Rice?

The most accurate answer to this question is – probably. But that will mostly depend on which restaurant you go to.

If you have previously visited a restaurant with a highly trained sushi chef – or itamae – you might be in luck.

It requires some creativity to make a sushi roll without rice, as it may fall apart if not properly made. There are no guarantees that the chef will accept the request, but they might see it as a challenge.

The other important factor to keep in mind is that if the sushi restaurant is too busy, the kitchen staff might not have the time to accommodate special requests.

So, in a nutshell, your best bet is to ask and hope for the best.

What Is Sushi Without Rice Called?

Many sushi enthusiasts will tell you that sushi without rice is not sushi at all. The vinegar-flavored rice makes the sushi dish.

If you’re keen on eating fresh Japanese seafood and avoiding rice, Sashimi is the go-to recommendation.

This is a delicious and nutritious dish that is often categorized as a type of sushi, but that’s not an accurate definition.

Sashimi is made of thinly sliced raw fish, such as salmon and tuna, and also mackerel, yellowtail, or shrimp. It’s served without rice, but with dipping sauce and vegetables such as daikon radish.

However, more commonly, the ‘sushi without rice’ option is called the “Naruto roll.” The sushi chef will wrap the fish and vegetables in a very thin cucumber wrap instead of rice.

plate with naruto roll pieces sushi wrapped in cucumber
Naruto Roll

These types of rolls typically contain avocado for some extra filling. So, if you’re wondering how to order sushi without rice, consider the Naruto-style roll.

Low Carb Sushi Options

It’s fair to ask why anyone would want to avoid rice in sushi, as it’s such a crucial part of the dish.

Perhaps you want to experience the flavor and health benefits of the dish and avoid calories and carbohydrates associated with rice.

Also, some people have rice intolerance and can’t consume it at all.

However, with the expansion of low carb and ketogenic diets, people have been trying to create rice-free sushi.

Again, the Naruto-style roll is a great low-carb option, as cucumber and fish are staples of low-carb diets.

However, if you’re avoiding carbs, you need to be mindful of the hidden carbs in sushi. For example, the unagi sauce can contain up to 14 grams of carbs per one ounce.

Another popular low-carb sushi solution uses cauliflower rice instead of sushi rice.

In the keto and low-carb community, cauliflower plays a significant role, and cauliflower rice replaces traditional rice relatively well.

In a nutshell, it’s not enough to avoid rice if you’re staying away from carbohydrates.

To make sure you’re eating low-carb sushi, it’s best to prepare it at home from scratch. In a restaurant, it’s best to make sure you ask for sushi without rice (like sashimi) and with only low-carb sauces.

plate of 4 types of sashimi with ginger and wasabi

Tips for Ordering Sushi Without Rice

If you don’t eat rice or can’t consume it due to dietary restrictions, you need to get creative when ordering it.

Before you order, think about the rice substitutes that would work. Also, as I mentioned, sashimi and Naruto-style rolls are your best option in these cases.

When placing your order for sushi take-out, make sure to ask whether the restaurant makes rice-free substitutes for the sushi rolls available on their menu.

In case they don’t offer it, they still might be willing to make an exception.

Provided their sushi chef is knowledgeable in how to do it, of course. The same rule applies when you’re out in the restaurant.

Although, it’s recommended to call ahead and ask if they will make sushi without rice on demand. Perhaps the best advice is to choose a less busy time to make such a request of the restaurant.

If the chef isn’t too busy, they might be more willing to take the time and create a tasty sushi dish without rice.

hand with chopsticks holding piece of salmon sashimi with waiter pouring soy sauce on it


Can Sushi Rolls Be Made Without Rice?

The answer is yes – sushi rolls can be made without rice. The Naruto-style roll is the perfect example. The thinly sliced cucumber mimics the rice and allows the sushi chef to create the roll.

Granted, the taste won’t be anything like the traditional sushi roll, but still quite delicious for most. You can get quite creative with Naruto rolls and can add smoked salmon, Kewpie mayo, cream cheese, sriracha, and of course, avocado.

The rule of thumb is to choose a thick cucumber as the thinly sliced sheets will be wider and easier to manage.

What Can Replace Rice in Sushi?

Several ingredients can replace rice in sushi, but it’s not guaranteed that they’ll all be available to order at a restaurant.

For example, some restaurants might offer cauliflower rice sushi and even offer substitutes such as quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, or a similar grain.

The grains have a similar texture and taste to rice, but they’re not low carb.

Other alternatives can be different types of rice that aren’t typically used in sushi and have more health benefits. These include brown, red, and even black rice.

In Summary

Avoiding rice for whatever reason shouldn’t stop you from enjoying sushi. With some ingenuity, you’ll likely be able to enjoy rice-less sushi at a restaurant you like. But, again, calling ahead and asking about options is the best course of action.

However, even in a pinch, a creative sushi chef with enough time on their hands will probably be able to come up with something delicious.

Therefore, another vital aspect of knowing how to order sushi without rice is to be aware of possible alternatives and give Sashimi and Naruto-style rolls a try.

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