Naked Sushi Makes Waves in Vancouver

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons | Think Draw

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons | Think Draw

Naked sushi has come to Vancouver.

The Japanese practice of nyotaimori – serving sushi on a naked body – is said to have its origins in the samurai period in Japan.  Of late, it’s spread to North America, with restaurants and caterers from Toronto to Las Vegas offering diners the chance to pluck their maki and sashimi off of models.

And now even Vancouver is getting in on the act, according to a story by Mia Stainsby in the Vancouver Sun.  A unique catering company is offering the service to clients in the city interested in experiencing the practice.  Of course, it’s not without controversy. Since the Vancouver Sun article was published, the blogosphere has come alive with posts and comments criticizing nyotaimori as degrading to the models and possibly even in violation of health standards.

But how does it all really work? In traditional nyotaimori, the model is generally expected to lie still at all times and not talk with guests.  The sushi itself is placed on sanitized leaves on the model’s body, so there’s no skin-to-fish contact.  Apparently, the challenge is finding sufficiently flat areas of the body so the sushi doesn’t just roll off.  (In case you’re wondering, the Vancouver company’s models are, in fact, “nearly naked,” with flowers and leaves taped in strategic places.)

An example of nyotaimori (not taken in Vancouver). Photo credit: Angie | Flickr

An example of nyotaimori. Photo credit: Angie | Flickr

Guests, in turn, are expected to observe the strictest decorum. Talking with the models is highly discouraged.  Inappropriate gestures or comments aren’t tolerated and diners can only pick up sushi with chopsticks.

The naked sushi catering company popped up in Vancouver in July, after operating since 2010 in Toronto.  According to the Sun article, their sushi is first prepared in a licensed restaurant before being plated on their models.  True to Vancouver’s reputation for cheap sushi, prices seem to be relatively reasonable, starting as low as $20 per person with a minimum of 12 guests. (Bento boxes, apparently, cost extra, with prices rising as high as $85/person.)

Given the outcry over nyotaimori in Vancouver, it’s not clear how long naked sushi will be on local menus.  But for the moment, it’s put Vancouver in the international dining spotlight, with reports featured everywhere from Fox News to the LA Times.

What do you think about nyotaimori? Let us know below. 

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