Sushi plates are plates which are designed for the purpose of presenting and serving sushi, a Japanese delicacy which is popular in many regions of the world. While almost any sort of plate could potentially be used to serve sushi, some people like to use specialized sushi plates in order to be culturally appropriate, and for convenience, since sushi plates are usually ideally suited to the service of sushi. Import stores and some Asian markets stock sushi plates, and they can also be ordered directly from various companies which manufacture them.
In the West, there is a bit of misconception about the word “sushi.” Sushi is simply rice which has been seasoned with a vinegar mixture, and it can be used to make a variety of foods, including makizushi, which is made by wrapping sushi and ingredients in nori, and nigirzushi, made with pieces of raw fish presented on hand-molded balls of sushi. Westerners also refer to sashimi, slices of raw fish with no rice, as “sushi.” Sushi plates can be used to serve all of these foods.
Presentation is a very important part of the dining experience in Japan and for traditional Japanese restaurants. Sushi plates are usually seasonally-appropriate, with themes which reflect the seasonal changes, and the colors and designs on the plates are designed to complement the food which is presented on them without being overwhelming. The plates are typically flattened to accommodate arrangements of sushi, and they are often square or rectangular in shape.
Some sushi plates have depressions which are used for the presentation of condiments, or to hold small bowls of condiments. Others may have a smooth surface, and matching condiment bowls and plates which are brought out along with the main plate in a set. Sushi plates can be designed for personal use, with just enough space for one person's sushi, or communal use, allowing several people to take pieces of sushi from a single large plate.
Porcelain is the material of choice for many sushi plates, although it is also possible to use wood, stoneware, stone, or plastics. People who want to serve sushi in the traditional style may maintain several sets of plates so that they can rotate their sushi plates with the season and the mood, while others may prefer to keep a single stock set of fairly neutral plates which can be used with a wide variety of types of sushi, and at any time of the year. Coordinating condiment dishes, chopstick rests, and other accessories can also be obtained.