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The Keto diet is no more the secret weight-loss weapon of Hollywood celebrities like Halle Berry and Kim Kardashian. This low-carb and high-fat diet has hit the mainstream and become a craze among common people wanting to lose weight and look fit and fabulous. However, the biggest roadblock is to resist the temptations to give in to the crab and starch-rich delights.
The keto-dieters of today have a much better scenario when dining out as the food industry has also evolved significantly in the last few years. The restaurants have also realized the need for offering keto-friendly food for those on a diet. Hence, it is common to find special low-carb items on the menu for those who are on keto.
So, if you have to attend a friend’s birthday bash at a sushi restaurant, you don’t have to sulk at the thought of eating nothing while others enjoy the gourmet food. While sushi on keto is not a natural choice, you can still eat a lot of stuff if you are aware of what to eat and what to avoid.
In this article, I will share with you the top 8 keto options at restaurants so that you can pamper your tastebuds without going off the track. Before we get into the options available, let’s go over what a ketogenic diet actually means to help the beginners make an informed choice.
The Ketogenic Diet
This is a strict regimen comprising of low-carb and high-fat food that forces the body to get into a state known as ‘ketosis’ – where the system burns fat instead of carbohydrates to get fuel. When you are on a keto diet, you have to abstain from anything that is rich in carbs, such as rice, bread, and any other baked goods. It also puts a restriction on sugary foods, starchy vegetables, low-fat dairy products, traditional snacks like chips, crackers, and pretzels.
You must aim at getting your carbs from the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables such as peppers, leafy greens, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips to keep the digestive system unaffected by this change. However, the biggest challenge is going to a sushi restaurant and not eating rice because it is the main ingredient in this Japanese cuisine. Read on to find out about the sushi options (appetizers and main dishes) you can enjoy as a keto dieter.
Appetizers – Keto Sushi Options
The good news is that there are very few sushi restaurants in the US that exclusively serve only sushi. Most of the dining establishments serve a variety of other Japanese dishes that are keto-friendly. They can easily be modified slightly to make low carb food. When you are in a sushi restaurant, here are some of the appetizers you can enjoy.
#1. Miso Soup
This is a delicious and healthy soup flavored with soybean paste and it forms a staple in Japanese cuisine. It is frequently paired up as a side dish with sushi. There are no thickeners used in the soup, instead, it is filled with keto-friendly veggies such as onions, mushrooms, and cabbage to make it a filling appetizer. It may also include cubes of firm tofu to add to the overall taste and flavor.
#2. Oshinko (Japanese Pickles)
Another amazing keto option for appetizers at a sushi restaurant is undoubtedly pickled vegetables known as Oshinko in Japanese. These sweet and sour vegetables dipped in brine solution make a great keto-friendly starter for your meals. It’s also an amazing way to indulge your tastebuds in new flavors such as refreshing cucumbers, lotus root, and spicy radish to name a few.
#3. Edamame (Soybean Pods)
If you have been to a sushi restaurant before, you have probably seen it on the menu. These are tasty soybean pods that are steamed and salted. They are cheap and tasty appetizers for any occasion. You just pop the pods and enjoy the delicious beans that are full of protein and fiber. If you are on a low-carb diet, order Edamame to keep yourself busy with popping the pods and savoring the soybeans. You will not miss the other things your friends are having.
Main Courses Keto Sushi Options at Restaurant
I am sorry to break the bad news on you but you cannot enjoy the traditional sushi rolls or nigiri on a keto diet. The traditional form includes rice as the foundation and it’s a sin to even smell rice on a keto diet. So, do we have any keto options at all? Well, yes! Almost all sushi restaurants serve sashimi, a type of rice less sushi that includes only the fish or seafood that may be raw or treated.
If you are really lucky, the restaurant may have some low carb sushi options on the menu. Even then you must ask questions and not bank on this option blindly as many places may put non-keto ingredients inside. Here are some of the main dish keto options you can enjoy.
#4. Sushi Roll with cauliflower rice
This is common alterative offered as a substitute for sushi rice in the keto-friendly sushi restaurants. In this dish, cauliflower may be cooked or used raw. It is cut into very fine pieces to resemble the texture of grains in sushi rice. It is often cooked and seasoned with soy sauce, salt, and pepper to enhance the taste. Tell the server or chef that you are on a keto diet, and if they offer cauliflower rice, you will have so many filling options to choose from.
#5. Sashimi, the rice less sushi
Sashimi is often confused with sushi, but they are two different types of dishes. Despite their differences, it’s common to find sashimi in a sushi restaurant and keto-dieters can thank God for that. At least they have something delicious to eat that has no carb on it. Sashimi primarily consists of finely cut slices of raw fish without any rice and the best part is there are so many varieties of sashimi to choose from.
So, if a place serves sushi, you can be damn sure that they will have sashimi too and there’s your safest bet to enjoy a filling dinner without feeling guilty. Enjoy the finest cuts of fatty tuna or several other species of fish that the chef makes for you.
The sashimi plate may typically comprise of the best fish and the best cuts of the day. They may sometimes be served with grated daikon radish, pickled vegetables or green salad, all of which are keto-friendly options. What we like best about sashimi is that you get to enjoy the optimum flavor of the fish with very less soy sauce to bring out the best flavors.
This is another keto-friendly option you can find at sushi restaurants. It closely resembles sushi rolls and comprises of broiled strips of thin-sliced beef rolled with scallions. Just request the chef to leave out the teriyaki sauce and this can be a filling main dish for you. Top it up with leafy salads and pickled vegetables and you are good to go!
#7. Naruto cucumber sushi roll
These are not your traditional cucumber maki but something similar and filling too. This dish uses thin strips of cucumber in the place of nori for rolling and the ingredients may comprise of carrots, peppers, leafy greens, and raw fish slices. The strips are made to stick together with the help of softened cream cheese.
Another way of preparing cucumber rolls is to peel a cucumber, remove the seeds from within so there is a hollow inside. Now, the middle part is stuffed with raw fish slices or minced raw seafood. The cucumber is then cut into slices and served with pickled ginger.
#8. Keto Temaki roll (hand roll)
Some keto-friendly sushi restaurants may have keto temaki roll in the menu, or you may request the chef to make one for you. It comprises of nori sheet shaped like a cone and the fillings include finely-cut strips of raw fish, seafood, carrots, avocado, cucumber, and other fruits/ vegetables. The roll may also be shaped like a cylinder instead of a cone.
Making keto sushi rolls at home is also fun and easy, so when you wish to indulge in something more exciting on a keto diet, try making this roll at home. I have created an article that contains the recipe to make delicious and filling low-carb sushi rolls at home.
Now that you know the top keto sushi options at restaurants, going out with friends should not be tough on you. Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind while dining out to pamper your tastebuds without skipping the diet rules.
10 Tips For Going Keto At Sushi Restaurants
1. If you are invited to a friend’s birthday bash, you don’t have a choice. In other cases, always make sure you plan ahead and check the online menu. You may also request nutrition information when you arrive at the restaurant to make smart choices.
2. Remember that an important aspect of the keto diet is to understand that your food will look different from what’s on your friend’s plate and you should be okay with that.
3. Don’t go with the face value of any dish or pre-assume it to be keto-friendly. Always ask questions to the chef or server to ensure that the meal does not contain any carbs. For example, seaweed salad may look harmless but it contains brine which is sugary and a complete no for the keto diet.
4. Avoid anything that is breaded such as breaded fish, seafood or veggies, as these sure sourceS of carbohydrateS. While sushi rice and tempura may seem like obvious sources of carbs, there are many other items that may contain hidden carbs so be aware.
5. Always check restaurant information on sites like Yelp and also read the online customer reviews to learn whether or not a place is keto-friendly.
6. Many entrees may contain starch, so always opt for something safer such as unseasoned fresh salad or salad made from pickled Japanese vegetables.
7. Request the chef to avoid drizzling the condiments like teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, or mayo on your meal. Tell the chef to use olive oil on the salad.
8. You are paying for the food so don’t shy away from asking whether or not the restaurant offers keto-friendly food, and what are the ingredients used.
9. You can have as much meat, fish, or seafood as you want as long as they are not breaded, fried, or marinated.
10. Have a healthy snack before going out for sushi dinner at a restaurant. This will save you from overindulging and those empty stomach temptations that many people give in.
What are the foods to avoid in a sushi restaurant?
Besides sushi rice and tempura, some of the other items that you need to avoid are anything that contains imitation crab (surimi), sticky sauces, fried and starchy foods. If possible, request the chef to prepare your meal separately to avoid cross-contamination.
What are the safe low-carb veggies for the keto diet
The non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs and calories, hence they are safe to eat while on a keto diet. Some examples are cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, and so on. Some of the fruits you can eat are avocado, strawberry, coconut, lemon, and olives.
Is there any side effect of the keto diet?
Keto diet decreases the carbohydrate intake of the body and forces fat to burn. This results in fat loss and a sudden drop in weight, however, they may be followed by initial side effects such as headache, excessive thirst, frequent urination, hunger, lightheadedness, and constipation. Once the body gets accustomed to burning fat to derive energy, things may turn to normal.
Can I cook keto sushi at home?
Yes, making your own keto sushi is a much better idea than dining out with limited options. There are so many things you can try and experiment with to create a mouthwatering keto treat right at home. So, you can satisfy your sushi cravings and still stay on your diet plan. I have created an article that contains keto sushi recipes, check it out.