Why Is Sushi So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

Photo of author
Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Sushi is delicious food that hails from Japan, and most types of sushi involve rice and seafood. While more kinds of Japanese food have been gaining popularity, sushi is still most people’s favorite thing to eat at a Japanese restaurant.

If you wanted to order sushi at a restaurant, you might be curious why sushi is so expensive. I did some digging, and here is what I found!

Why Is Sushi So Expensive?

Sushi is expensive because of the ingredients, especially seafood, because seafood is expensive due to transport and quick spoilage. Additionally, sushi is a luxurious food that requires trained chefs to make, which adds to the price. Moreover, the price of sushi helps pay for the input costs, chefs, etc.

Do you want to learn more interesting facts about what impacts the cost of sushi? I made a list of information below, so keep reading!

1. Costs Of Imported Seafood

Unfortunately, not every restaurant that serves sushi is located near a body of water.

Therefore, this will mean that these sushi restaurants have to import their seafood, and importing seafood can cost a lot of money.

Also, seafood can spoil quickly since it has a short lifespan, meaning fishers have to transport their seafood quickly to avoid wasting it.

2. High-Quality Sushi

As with most things, anything regarded as high-quality will be expensive, which is especially true if you want to eat authentic and high-quality sushi.

For instance, some local restaurants serve sushi at an affordable price, but this sushi is likely to be low-quality.

Usually, untrained cooks prepare this sushi without using much technique, which can look and taste a bit shabby.

3. Sushi Preparation

Generally, sushi is difficult to prepare, which is a huge factor in why sushi is expensive. Further, sushi is regarded as a labor-intensive dish, and it can take years to be good at making sushi.

Read More:  Why Is Indian Food So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

Also, sushi often has a specific appearance depending on the type you get. That said, each type of sushi will have a different preparation method, which is not easy to master.

Moreover, the preparation process to make sushi can be meticulous. Many sushi ingredients are delicate, so the chefs must be extra careful not to damage the ingredients.

4. High Demand For Sushi

Sushi first found itself in countries like the United States back in the 1950s, and since then, sushi has slowly been growing in popularity.

Nowadays, sushi is one of the most popular foods people want to eat at restaurants, causing a high demand for sushi.

5. Insurance For Food Spoilage

5. Insurance For Food Spoilage

As mentioned earlier, importing seafood is difficult because seafood can spoil quickly.

Typically, sushi chefs often need to order a lot of fresh seafood to create sushi since most sushi cannot be made from frozen seafood.

Therefore, it is difficult for sushi chefs to predict exactly how much fresh seafood they need in a day.

For example, if there is suddenly a slow day with very few customers, chefs will be forced to throw away the seafood that will spoil.

So, sushi prices go up because the extra costs will serve as insurance for the chef and restaurant.

As such, these extra costs will cover any fish that could have potentially spoiled to recover any potential losses.

6. The Dining Experience

If you get to go to an authentic Japanese restaurant, you may sit at the bar and watch sushi chefs prepare your sushi.

Read More:  Why Is Seafood So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

Generally, this is an added dining experience that can contribute to the cost of sushi.

Even if you do not get to watch the chef make sushi, most Japanese restaurants’ overall appearance and ambiance can attribute to the sushi’s price.

7. Trained Sushi Chefs

Most expensive sushi is priced that way because trained sushi chefs prepare the sushi. That said, these sushi chefs often require salaries of at least $50,000 or more a year.

Moreover, this is because trained sushi chefs have spent years perfecting the craft of sushi making.

Usually, these sushi chefs would have likely had to pay for years of lessons under another professional sushi chef.

While there are many sushi restaurants now, there are only so many professionally trained sushi chefs available.

Therefore, some of the cheaper sushi restaurants may have self-trained sushi chefs that are not as skilled as the professionals.

8. Marketing

Most people are willing to pay for things that are seen as luxurious, including food.

That said, this is because when luxury products are shown, many people believe that the idea of a luxurious lifestyle will be sold to them.

Normally, marketing companies will anchor on the fact that most people want to have nice things.

For instance, marketing companies will make sushi sound like a luxurious product, allowing the price of sushi to go up.

9. The Cost Of Other Ingredients

While seafood is usually the most expensive ingredient in sushi, the other elements can add up to the price.

For example, sushi chefs need to find a specific type of sushi rice to create rice for sushi, which can be costly.

10. Expensive Types Of Sushi

Usually, the price of your sushi will depend on what type of sushi you are getting. That said, not all sushi is made the same way with the same ingredients, so the price will greatly differ.

Read More:  Why Do People Like Pizza? (9 Reasons Why)

For instance, kappamaki is a basic cucumber sushi roll that is extremely cheap in most restaurants.

On the other hand, sushi made from bluefin tuna is significantly more expensive.

11. Input Costs

As with most restaurants, sushi restaurants rely on their food and drink sales to make up for restaurants’ input costs to ensure the company runs.

Typically, the input costs it takes to keep a restaurant functioning are huge reasons sushi can be expensive.

For instance, most sushi restaurants will have to pay for rent and their employees’ salaries. Therefore, part of the sushi’s cost will go back to the restaurant.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why macarons are so expensive, why beef jerky is so expensive, and why Magic Spoon is so expensive.


Sushi is usually expensive because of the seafood and other ingredients used to make sushi.

Further, seafood is often expensive already, but the import costs and how quickly seafood can spoil make sushi more costly.

Moreover, the ambiance of the sushi restaurant and the overall demand for sushi can affect the prices. Additionally, trained sushi chefs often prepare more expensive sushi.


  • Maisie Hughes

    Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Leave a Comment