No Mayo – Special Orders

waitress-taking-ordersI picked up an order ticket the printer spit out. It read:

Table #7
2 x California Roll
1 x Spicy Tuna Roll
** NO MAYO **
1 x Shrimp Tempura Roll

**NO MAYO** part was printed in red to make sure to get sushi chef’s attention. The waitress had to input any special orders manually. A special order consisted of things like something not on the menu like No mayo. In Japan, almost no one would place a special order like that, because, it’s customary to order from the menu. Japanese consider a person making a special request as someone who is demanding, inconsiderate and lacks a social norm. Because I was so used to this customer, it took me a while to get used to seeing so many orders with special requests. I knew some people made such requests when ordering food. I just had no idea I would be receiving so many now I was in the position to take orders and make food.

“What’s this about no mayo in red?” I asked Toshi with the ticket in my hand.

“Oh, that’s a special order waitress puts in. When you see it, you have to be careful making it. You have to make spicy tuna without mayo.”

“Why would anyone want spicy tuna with no mayo?” I just couldn’t understand why. I mean, it tasted good with mayo.

“I don’t know. It’s usually a female customer, and maybe she is on a diet or something. She could be allergic to eggs.”

“Really? On a diet? Why come to a sushi restaurant? Why not stay at home instead?”

“Who knows,” Toshi replied.

“They ordered shrimp tempura also. Shrimp tempura roll has mayo in it. Do you think I should make one without?”

“I think she meant no mayo for just spicy tuna, but why don’t we ask Emma to be sure.”

A special order can be tricky. The order could be for one people or five people. Spicy Tuna with no mayo can be for just one person and shrimp tempura roll could be for a different person, or both rolls could be for the same person, and the waitress forgot to put “NO MAYO.”

“Yeah, California Roll has mayo, too,” Jun said.

Asking Emma for clarification sounded like a good idea.

“Hey, Emma, did you mean no mayo for all the rolls for table #7, or just for spicy tuna only?” Toshi asked in a loud voice to Emma, who was across the restaurant.

“Just for Spicy Tuna, no mayo. Rest of the rolls are OK with mayo,” Emma replied.

During my first two weeks standing at the sushi bar, watching and learning, I noticed some interesting and “wired” eating habits many customers demonstrated at the sushi bar. Well, perhaps they weren’t so “wired” to them, only to me. After all, I was new to sushi business.

First, the amount of soy sauce almost all the customers used were outrageous. All of them filled the two-inch soy plate all the way and dipped their rolls completely into the bath of soy sauce, which soaked up quite a bit of soy sauce, turning the outside of roll from white to brown. In Japan, soy sauce is meant to compliment the roll, nigiri or sashimi. Japanese would dip their sushi just so lightly into soy sauce so that a roll would observe a small amount of soy sauce. Otherwise, the aroma of soy sauce would be overwhelming, covering the subtle flavor or nori, sushi rice, and the fish.

“Yes, they used soy sauce like there is no tomorrow,” Toshi said.

“I agree. Do they think it’s a dipping sauce?” I asked.

“Judging by they way they use soy sauce, yes, I’m afraid they are.”

“No wonder they are asking for low-sodium soy sauce,” I said.


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