Naked sushi and other gimmicky dining might not only be for acquired taste
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 23, 2014
Toronto-based restaurant, Naked Sushi has brought—the somewhat traditional and somewhat taboo dining experience—nyotaimori to Vancouver. Critics in the feminist camp were quick to address it as “sexist,” “discriminatory,” and “gross.”
Although sushi is an acquired taste for Westerners, eating it off of a naked human (usually female) body seems to go against every human custom in the world. But after hearing about the platters’ discipline—how they splash cold water on themselves to lower their body temperatures and how they stay completely still during the two-hour long experience—I’m able to see the artistic value of Naked Sushi.
I don’t imagine many little girls dream of being serving dishes when they grow up, the same way girls don’t aspire to be strippers. However, those who do choose to pole dance would tell you that in order to perform skillfully, the dancer not only needs to be attractive, but also well-practiced, athletic, and artistic.
But the question remains: would I eat sushi off of a naked human body? Yes, I would and I wouldn’t even consider the five-second rule. It’s true that I might be nurturing a culture that objectifies women—after all, I would be much less inclined to eat off of a man’s torso, double-standard acknowledged—but there is nothing wrong with using natural resources. If the opportunity arises where I am invited to partake in such a unique experience, I won’t decline.
Keep in mind that the models are not being mistreated, and they are willingly offering their bodies to be decorated with food. The caterers have strictly prohibited lewd acts, both physical and verbal, and sanitation is always the overriding factor. When it comes to restaurants, sultry servers have always been a key attraction for patrons. Do I know that the waitresses at Earls or Hooters get more harassing comments during their eight-hour shifts? Of course not. But would I be surprised if they do? No.
Food brings people together and pulls others apart. That’s the beauty of dining: everyone has a different taste. I enjoy gimmicky restaurants, at least the idea of them. I personally get tired of the same old meal every day, so I’ll take anything that allows me to refresh my senses—whether it’s just turning off the lights in Kitsilano’s Dark Table or allowing me to create art while I eat at Yaletown’s Raw Canvas. New experiences are what life is all about, and with three meals a day, there isn’t much to lose.
I don’t believe Naked Sushi is sexist or discriminatory or even gross, but I do believe that it’s not for everyone. After all, not everyone likes sushi. Not everyone likes nude models. Not everyone likes to break out of their comfort zone. But hey, everyone has different tastes, and that shouldn’t be condemned.