Why It's Bad Form To Wear Perfume To A Sushi Restaurant

No matter the type of restaurant you go to, you should follow basic etiquette to make sure that you, your dining partners, and other patrons can thoroughly enjoy their experience. For example, looking at the drive-thru menu board for a while slows the whole line down, while something as little as sharing food at a fancy restaurant can be messy or distracting to other diners. One underrated rule is to avoid wearing strong perfumes, colognes, or body sprays — especially when dining in a sushi restaurant. 

Strong scents can overwhelm the more delicate notes of sushi, which is a subtle form of cuisine that can be muddied by strong aromas. Smell plays a huge role in how you taste food, so while your perfume seems harmless, it might then be at complete odds with the fish, rice, and other ingredients. Even the slightest dissonance in aroma can have negative effects on your tastebuds, leaving you with a perceived bad taste in your mouth.

Though it would be unpleasant enough for your own dining experience to be thrown off, strong perfumes can also affect those around you. Your dining companions may find their sense of taste altered, or worse, if you're sitting in close proximity to the chef, their finely honed skills could be thrown off-kilter by the cacophony of smells.

Tailor your perfume or cologne choices to the cuisine

If you're set on wearing perfume to dinner, there are a few things to consider so you don't ruin anyone's dining experience. For instance, opt for a more subtle scent that won't be as noticeable when you get to the restaurant. And use only one or two sprays — this is not the time to douse yourself.

You can also try pairing complementary scents with different cuisines, like any style of American BBQ with amber. The warmth and sweetness of amber pair with the sweet and savory notes of BBQ, so you won't need to worry about scents clashing too much. Alternatively, you could try pairing a peppery perfume with Italian or Asian food, strawberry perfume with the food at a dessert shop, or even a mild citrus perfume with seafood. 

In most cases, you'll want to avoid soapy florals, unless you're enjoying cuisine with bold flavors — Thai, Cajun, Indian, etc. — and the scent might be overpowered. When in doubt, choose a scent that corresponds to a key ingredient in the cuisine you're enjoying.

Other behaviors to avoid in a sushi restaurant

Wearing a strong perfume isn't the only mistake to be avoided when dining in a sushi restaurant. For instance, you should always respect the chefs preparing your food by consuming the sushi in its entirety and not discarding any components. Picking the toppings off the rice — whether you end up eating the toppings or not — is considered rude. Similarly, you should enjoy sushi the way it was intended. Don't drown it in soy sauce or add other condiments; a light dip in soy is all you need. Also, if you have special dietary needs, make them known ahead of time so the chef can accommodate you without food being wasted. 

You should also have a basic understanding of when to not use chopsticks to eat sushi. Certain types of sushi, like nigiri or rolls, might be too delicate to be picked up with chopsticks, so you should instead use your hands. Indeed, some say it's actually better to just eat with your hands if you're unskilled with chopsticks, as long as you're diligent about eating each piece of sushi in one bite. Last but not least, be sure to eat your sushi in a timely manner, before ambient temperatures diminish the effect of the fresh fish and rice.