Is sushi the perfect first date—or am I just a terrible romantic?

Choosing what to do on a first date is hard. Restaurants are too awkward; bars are too loud; cinemas are good for making out but not ideal for making conversation. Mini golf is too embarrassing; the ballet is too expensive. Walking is tiring; boating is dangerous; picnics are cold and give you grass stains. If you google ‘first date ideas’, you’re faced with ridiculous suggestions like going for a run, or taking a yoga class. If I’m going to get red-faced and sweaty on a date, I want it to be in the good way. I also don’t want to volunteer at a soup kitchen, play video games, or visit a psychic—so thanks for nothing, Internet.

A perfect date is cheap, amusing enough to fill gaps in conversation, and (if you’re lazy like me) set at home. It should definitely involve food, and there should be opportunity for lots and lots of alcohol. Best of all, it should leave you covered in soy sauce.

It’s obvious: making sushi is the ultimate first date activity. You can attend sushi workshops if you want a bit of adult supervision, or you can bring the fun to your own kitchen. I guarantee, you crazy kids will have the date of your lives.

1. You get to show your date the most interesting smells in your neighbourhood

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You can’t just make sushi with supermarket fish you bought last week and only just remembered. You’ll need to head to a fishmonger and ask for fresh, sushi-grade fish if you don’t want to end the evening taking turns in the bathroom. Set off for a late afternoon stroll, and totally avoid the awkward issue of whether to hold hands—you’ll need your fingers firmly pinching your nose as you navigate the incomparable smell of the fish market.

2. You’ll be drunk before you even begin


There’s no chance of accidentally forgetting to open the wine as you excitedly head into the kitchen; the rice needs about an hour of preparation before you can get started, so there’s nothing left to do but pour those drinks. While you get tipsy and find out about each other’s parents, the rice needs to be rinsed, soaked for half an hour, drained for a further 15 minutes, and finally boiled until it has absorbed a full saucepan of water. Cover it in vinegar, and leave to cool until you’ve run out of wine.

3. It encourages lively discussion of incredibly mundane topics

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The filling is supposed to go on the less shiny side of the seaweed. Unfortunately, both sides are pretty much the same amount of shiny, so you won’t know where to put the rice until your nose is actually touching the seaweed. Even then, you and your date are bound to disagree, and so you can spend the next twenty minutes animatedly gesturing at a piece of dried plant.

4. Hand-holding is much more efficient when your fingers are covered in sticky rice


The next step is spreading an even layer of rice over the seaweed. This is really difficult to do; that rice is VERY sticky. You’ll need to use a combination of your fingers, the back of the spoon, and the corner of the tablecloth—but none of that will help. You may get a little frustrated, but there’s a silver lining: your hands will be so covered in sticky rice, that when you do go to lock fingers with your date, you’ll glue right together.

5. Your date can comfort you when you suffer third-degree burns


Filling the sushi rolls is the fun part, and you can use whatever you want, like diced prawn tempura (you crazy kids). For deep frying, you need to get the oil super hot, so you may well be asking your date to kiss your burned finger better before the evening’s through.

6. You’ll find out how good your date is at anger management

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If you thought spooning out the rice was hard, you’re in for a nasty surprise when you try to bundle up the sushi rolls. They will never turn into the neat little parcels you see in restaurants, and even if you get to the top intact, there’s no way to make them stick together. On the plus side, you can rule out the crazies by putting them through this test and checking they don’t explode.

7. You get to show your date what you look like when you hungry-cry

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After all that, your sushi rolls will still taste less than perfect unless you whack them back in the fridge for another half an hour. By this stage, it’s probably half past midnight and you’re two bottles of wine down, so there’s a good chance you might burst into great rolling tears of hunger. Which is really cute on a date. Honestly.

8. There’s no way to eat them attractively, so you don’t even have to try!

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The pressure is off: you don’t even have to attempt the art of the seductive chew. Sushi rolls are slightly too big to fit in your mouth whole, but biting them in half will cause bits of fish to hang awkwardly off your lips. Even if you manage to get them in your mouth with no disasters, the wasabi will make your nose run.

9. You’ll both be too full and exhausted for anything sexy

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The question of whether or not to get down and dirty on the first date can be a tricky area to navigate. Sex means something a bit different to everyone, leading to potential misunderstandings the next morning. Much easier to end the evening bloated and slightly uncomfortable, and avoid the issue altogether.

10. There’s a reason they call it sushi for two-shi


If love isn’t a cocktail of sticky fingers, food poisoning, alcohol and tears, then I simply don’t know what it is. If you can make it through this, you can make it through anything. So grab those chopsticks and go fall in love!

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