Culinary Tips: 9 Different Types of Sushi Rolls

different types of sushi rolls

If you want to try a sushi roll for the first time, you are likely to be confused by the wide range of choices on the menu. Different sushi restaurants offer different types of sushi rolls, each of which has its unique elements. This article describes the different types of sushi rolls that you are likely to find on the menu.

What Are Sushi Rolls?

Sushi Rolls

Sushi is a traditional Japanese delicacy made up of vinegared rice, sugar, salt, raw seafood, and vegetables. Although some people use brown rice and short-grain rice to prepare sushi, the original Japanese sushi is made with medium-grain white rice. Different types of seafood can be used to prepare this dish, but the most common ones include raw squid, yellowtail, tuna, eel, salmon, and crab meat.

Some types of sushi rolls are purely vegetarian, comprising pickled ginger, soy sauce, or wasabi. Other common garnishes for sushi are daikon radish and pickled daikon. However, make sure you are served with sushi and not sashimi, a popular Japanese meal that’s commonly confused with sushi. Sashimi comprises thinly sliced raw seafood or sometimes red meat.

Sushi is said to have evolved from the traditional Japanese dish known as narezushi (salted fish) which comprised fermented rice and raw fish. In fact, the term sushi refers to sourness because the overall dish has a sour and savory taste. Currently, vinegar is added to sushi to enhance its sour taste and prolong its shelf life.

9 Different Types of Sushi Rolls

Although the three main ingredients for sushi are raw/cooked seafood, vegetables, and vinegar rice, different chefs add different garnishes to make the dish more delicious and unique. Here are the 9 most common types of sushi rolls.

Most Traditional Sushi Rolls

These types of sushi rolls are committed to traditional recipes, so they don’t include many garnishes. Their main aim is to maintain the original quality and taste of the fish.

1. Maki


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This type of sushi roll is very common in European and American restaurants. It is made with raw fish, rice, and several toppings rolled up in nori seaweed. This sushi roll is also referred to as hosomaki, especially if it’s too thin. And if it’ too thick, it is referred to as futomaki.

A maki sushi roll that is full of cucumber is commonly referred to as kappa maki. It’s a delicious type of sushi roll that sushi lovers always add to their menus.

2. Nigiri


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This type of sushi roll is one of the most recognizable sushi rolls because it doesn’t have a seaweed wrapper. It comprises compact rolls of rice covered with raw fish or other types of seafood. This sushi roll is still very common in Japan.

3. Chirashi


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A chirashi sushi roll comprises rice, raw fish, and other toppings strewn on a plate. It becomes the ideal choice when you don’t have the time to prepare every ingredient individually.

Traditional Sushi Rolls with a Fun Twist

These types of sushi rolls are advanced versions of the traditional rolls. So, they come with an element of freshness, excitement, and innovation. However, they do not stick to the original recipes.

4. California Sushi Roll

California Sushi Roll

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Contrary to what some people believe, this type of sushi roll was invented in California, United States in the 1960s, by a Japanese chef working at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Initially, some contradicting reports alleged that California sushi roll was born in Japan. It’s also important to mention that this sushi roll is in the uramaki category, meaning that it’s an inverted version of maki.

So, the rice is on the outside, and the seafood is on the inside. Other ingredients of a California sushi roll include crabs, avocados, and cucumbers.

5. Temaki


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A temaki sushi roll comprises nori seaweed cones wrapped in rice and other toppings. Different chefs choose different toppings for this sushi roll. The most important thing to note about temaki rolls is that they are the easiest and most amusing rolls to eat. Some people refer to this type of sushi roll as the Japanese version of burritos.

6. Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

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This sushi roll elicits hatred and love in equal measure, mainly because of its ingredients. It comprises some amazing tuna bites, crispy nori seaweed, spicy notes, and soft rice. This type of sushi roll is suitable for people who love spicy food.

7. Tempura Sushi Roll

Tempura Sushi Roll

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This is one of the most popular types of sushi rolls in the world. It is made with fish, vegetables, and several types of protein. When fried, this stuffed and beaten roll becomes a crunchy bite. It’s served hot.

8. Dragon Sushi Roll

Dragon Sushi Roll

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This sushi roll is known for its lovely presentation and remarkable taste. It’s suitable for avocado lovers because avocado is one of its main ingredients. Other ingredients include prawn tempura and wild asparagus. The dragon sushi roll never goes out of fashion.

9. Spider Sushi Roll

Spider Sushi Roll

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The spider sushi roll comprises amazing ingredients, including sushi rice, cucumber, kaiware, masago, nori seaweed, eel sauce, and other toppings. Its unique preparation process imitates the sweetness of the shell crab.

How to Decide What Sushi Roll to Order


With such a wide range of sushi rolls, you might find yourself confused about which one to order at your favorite sushi restaurant. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, you should follow these guidelines:

• Choose a good restaurant: Although there are countless sushi restaurants, choose where to dine carefully, because not all sushi restaurants know how to prepare quality sushi rolls.

• Smell: The best sushi rolls don’t smell fishy. So, if you are greeted with a strong fishy smell the moment you step into the restaurant, it means that your dish won’t be fresh or the utensils are not cleaned thoroughly.

• Quality of ingredients: Traditionally, most sushi rolls were made with raw seafood. Therefore, if the sushi rolls on the menu have cooked seafood, probably the seafood isn’t fresh.

• Rice temperature: Make sure the rice presented to you is at room temperature. Sushi rice should never be served cold.

• Check the condition of seaweed: The easiest way to know if your sushi roll is fresh is to check the condition of the nori seaweed. If it’s crispy with a toasty flavor, then the roll is fresh. As the sushi roll ages, its nori seaweed becomes soggy.

• Perfect display: Sushi rolls should be properly organized and appear pristine while in the display case. So, avoid anything that looks messy.

• Experienced servers: Choose a sushi restaurant with servers who understand the various types of sushi rolls. You can easily know if they are experienced by asking them basic questions about sushi.

• Ask for help: If you are completely new to sushi rolls, ask your server to explain to you the different types of rolls available. Don’t shy away from asking questions. A good sushi bar should hire knowledgeable and friendly chefs and attendants who are willing to help you choose the right sushi meal.

How to Eat Sushi Rolls


Although sushi rolls are simple meals, you will enjoy them more if you know how to eat them properly. Here is a guide to eating sushi rolls:

• Use chopsticks: Although you can use your hands to eat sushi rolls, the Japanese tradition dictates that you use chopsticks, especially when picking pieces of sushi from a shared plate.

• Use chopstick holder: When you are done with your chopsticks, rest them on the chopstick holder.

• Eat pickled ginger between courses: The pickled ginger is meant to be a palate cleanser, so it should be eaten between courses. It shouldn’t be mixed with soy sauce or eaten together with sushi. Pickled ginger also improves your digestion.

• Dipping sushi in soy sauce: Dip your fish in soy sauce with its side down. The rice doesn’t need to be dipped in the sauce because it’s already seasoned.

• Adding Wasabi: You can either add wasabi to your sushi directly or mix it with the soy sauce.

• Eating Sushi: Each sushi roll should be eaten in a single bite, even if it fills up your mouth. This prevents it from falling to pieces when you try to bite it in half.

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