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How to Order Keto Sushi at Japanese Restaurants

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Give into those sushi cravings and learn How To Order Keto Sushi like a pro! Sushi restaurants have so many hidden keto-friendly gems, which means you can enjoy eating out at Japanese restaurants again. Fancy making your own keto sushi at home so you can eat it anytime? Check out the links to my keto sushi recipe below!

How to order keto sushi at a restaurant banner over the middle with Salmon sashimi with soy sauce in the background.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just crave sushi! It happened a lot when I was pregnant (of course! No, I didn’t give in) and when I’m sticking to a strict keto diet…there’s just an internal timer that goes off saying “it’s sushi time!”. So I decided I must be able to enjoy my favorite Japanese food (possibly my favorite all-time food) whenever I can, whatever diet I’m sticking to at the time. Ordering sushi on a keto diet is absolutely doable. Read on for all of my tricks and tips!

❤️ Why you will love this post

  • You have options! Yes, there’s more to sushi places than rolls with rice! Japanese food has a wide range to choose from when you’re on a keto diet. From sashimi to grilled fish, you’ll be ordering like a keto pro at your favorite sushi restaurant in no time!
  • What to skip: I listed the 4 top things to avoid at sushi restaurants.
  • Easy swaps: Check out my infographic below for easy keto swaps at sushi restaurants.
  • Make it yourself (recipe!): The best way to ensure that you’re eating keto sushi is to make it at home. Okay, maybe not as fun as going to a Japanese Steakhouse, but it’s so easy to recreate those sushi flavors in your own kitchen with low carb ingredients like cauliflower rice, smoked salmon, avocado, nori, and spicy mayo. Click here for the full recipe!
Chopsticks lifting a slice of salmon sashimi from a plate of salmon.

🍣 What type of sushi can I order on a keto diet?

  • Sashimi: Sashimi is a Japanese delicacy that essentially consists of pieces of raw, fresh fish. Served unseasoned, you can dip the fish in soy sauce or eat them as they are. 100% protein, they are the best option when it comes to keto sushi options.
  • Naruto roll: These are my favorite keto sushi rolls. They are a roll with no rice. Instead, pieces of raw fish, vegetables, and sometimes roe are wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber. These rice-less rolls are one of the best sushi options because they don’t lack at all in sushi flavor, and have very few net carbs.
  • Nori sheet: This is the crispy, dark green sheet that maki sushi is wrapped up in. It is made from seaweed and is perfect for a ketogenic diet.
  • Spicy mayo: You may need to double-check the ingredients, but generally spicy mayo is going to be your best bet when it comes to sauces at sushi restaurants. It’s usually made of a mixture of mayonnaise, hot sauce (possibly sriracha, but not enough to knock you out of ketosis), and sesame oil.
  • Cream cheese: As one of the main ingredients in the infamous Philadephia roll, most Japanese restaurants will carry cream cheese. You can always ask for it as a small side to have with sashimi and cucumber.
  • Avocado: Creamy and loaded with good fats, avocado is a common ingredient in sushi rolls and one of the best low carb sushi options. It’s nice and filling too, so you can feel satisfied after dinner.

⛔ What types of sushi should I avoid?

  • Traditional sushi rolls: Raw fish or imitation crab with avocado or cucumber, wrapped in rice, wrapped in a nori sheet. These, unfortunately, are little carb bombs. Take the California roll, for example. One serving generally contains around 38 grams of carbs and 32.2g of net carbs. It’s impossible to fit a California roll into a keto diet.
  • Nigiri: Nigiri is a piece of sashimi on top of sushi rice. It’s best to opt straight for the sashimi instead to avoid the rice.
  • Tempura: Tempura is a crispy, deep-fried batter. You’ll often find tempura vegetables at sushi restaurants as an appetizer, or tempura shrimp in the sushi rolls themselves. As tempura is essentially wheat flour, it is high carb and best to be avoided on a keto diet.
  • Sweet sauces: Most Japanese sauces (at least the ones in the west) are pretty sweet. Teriyaki is one that comes to mind, which usually contains sugar or brown sugar and sometimes honey as well. Other ones to watch out for are tonkatsu sauce, ponzu, and eel sauce.
Various sushi on a grey background.

🤔 What other menu items can I order at Japanese restaurants?

  • Miso soup: This can be a little hit or miss, but generally miso soup is okay on a keto diet. Miso broth is usually loaded with low-carb foods like tofu, mushrooms, or seaweed.
  • Seaweed salad: Refreshing and tangy, seaweed salad is a great accompaniment to a low-carb meal. The main ingredient is seaweed (of course) which is so good for you and also keto-friendly.
  • Edamame: Although it’s a bean, edamame (or soybeans, soya beans) is really low carb. An order of edamame is a great side dish option for keto dieters at a Japanese restaurant.
  • Grilled food: Japanese cuisine has plenty of grilled options! From grilled fish to grilled chicken skewers, there’s usually plenty to choose from. Just watch out for the sauces! It’s best to order them on the side.
  • Pickles: You can often find pickled veggies like radish (or even Korean kimchi) on the menu at Japanese restaurants. They’re great palate cleansers and loaded with good bacteria. It’s well worth ordering a side of pickles if you can!

✅ Tips for ordering low-carb sushi options

  • Make it clear: Speak to your friendly itamae (that’s the Japanese word for sushi chef) or waiter about what foods you are avoiding so they can guide you through the menu.
  • Avoid: Don’t even be tempted to look at maki rolls, nigiri, or tempura. They will throw you off of that keto train quickly!
  • Order a-la carte: Extra avocado? Cucumber slices with your sashimi? A side of cream cheese? It doesn’t hurt to ask! I’ve found most restaurants are quite accommodating to requests. Be sure to tip well!

✨ Keto sushi swap cheat sheet (4 easy swaps!)

Infographic with easy keto sushi swaps.
  1. Swap maki rolls for naruto rolls: Naturo rolls are rice-free and you can ask for exclusively keto ingredients with no sweet sauces.
  2. Swap nigiri for sashimi: Sashimi is like nigiri without rice. An easy substitute!
  3. Tempura for pickled vegetables: Skip the battered and deep-fried vegetables for pickled instead. They’re still crunchy and so much better for you!
  4. Sweet sauces for spicy mayo: Mayonnaise is naturally low carb, and most hot sauces are too. Spicy mayo is a great option for sushi because it’s loaded with flavor and fewer carbs.

👀 Quick glance: Keto-Friendly Sushi Ingredients

Here is a list of keto-friendly ingredients usually found at a sushi bar. You can quickly look at this while you’re ordering to double-check that you’re ordering keto-safe foods. Some shellfish actually have carbs in them so be careful when ordering, however, it’s unlikely that you’ll order too much as sushi is made in small portions.

  • Fish: Salmon, blue fin tuna, yellow tail tuna, spicy tuna, sea bream, sea bass, butterfish, mackerel, sea urchin, scallops (6.3g carbs per 100g so not too much!), shrimp, prawns, octopus, squid, eels, crab, imitation crab meat, clams, roe (fish eggs).
  • Vegetables: Cucumber, green onions, avocado, asparagus, radish, bell pepper, zucchini.
  • Other options: Cream cheese, nori sheets, tofu, spicy mayo, truffle mayo, wasabi, soy sauce, and a little pickled ginger.

🥣 Can I make my own keto sushi at home?

Yes, of course! It’s not that difficult either. I made my own keto nigiri by simply sitting avocado and smoked salmon on top of a cream cheese, rice vinegar, and cauliflower rice mixture, drizzled with spicy mayo. This simple recipe really hit the spot and was ready in no time. If you aren’t too bothered about the keto sushi recipe looking like real sushi, they would easily turn into keto-friendly sushi bowls. Just line the bowl with the cream cheese cauliflower rice, topped with avocado slices, delicious salmon, or spicy tuna, and drizzled in spicy mayo. A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a thinly sliced sheet of nori to finish, and hey, presto! A tasty and filling meal is ready!

Have you ordered keto sushi from a restaurant? How did it go? We’d love to know <3 Tag us (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and InstagramPin it on Pinterest, and please leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list (top right of this page) for sparkly new recipes in your inbox.

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