In fact now the trend has reversed so there are now sushi bars in Japan serving Americanized version of sushi which is considered the “in” item in Japan as everything else that is American. “Sushi has evolved here in the United States. Sushi has come into its own style and culture here, and in some places its almost considered as American as apple pie. Crazy combinations of ingredients can be found inside sushi rolls, with bizarre names like the Caterpillar roll, Spider roll and Surfs Up roll. But beyond the crazy names and ingredients, the style of sushi has changed. American sushi has taken on a decidedly western technique when it comes to sushi creation, adding area-specific ingredients and changing the shape, size and presentation format laid out by Japanese inventors.”
Sushi has thus come a long way since its early days in the U.S. From a novelty item that only few knew about and even fewer could taste, it has developed into such a mammoth product that it can alone run a restaurant. This is very interesting. In the California area, you will see the most numbers of sushi bars and they offer such intricate varieties that even Japanese would find them new and unique. California roll is for example a specialty which is served all over the U.S. But emerged from the Golden state as it experimented with differently styles and types of sushi wraps and fillings.
Author of “The Zen of Fish,” Trevor Corson traces the history of sushi in the U.S. And finds out the sushi became popular as Hollywood stars were introduced to it and most of them embraced it willingly. That explains the elite almost “celebrity” like status of this Japanese item.
He also focuses on the spread of sushi through sushi academy. It was in 1980s that sushi became popular enough to have trained sushi chefs in the U.S. thats when a man named Toshi Sugiura opened first sushi academy in California.
“Toshi was a pioneer of American sushi. He had started serving sushi in Los Angeles in 1978, before most Americans had even heard of it. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Toshis sushi bar and restaurant — Hama Venice, in Venice Beach, just south of Santa Monica — had been one of the hottest sushi spots in all of L.A. Two years ago Toshi had shifted his efforts to the current restaurant, and it hadnt been long before Phil Jackson, coach of the L.A. Lakers, had stopped by to inscribe his signature on the wall.” (p. 4)
Trevor found that American sushi is highly popular in the U.S. because of its fish-less smell. By removing some rather pungent parts of fish from sushi, Americans were able to make sushi more suitable to their taste and thus highly popular. He writes: “In the early days of American sushi, Japanese chefs in L.A. had realized they could take the worst parts of the fish — the fibrous scraps, the flesh left on the skin, and meat past its prime — and chop them up with chili sauce. The taste of the fish was lost, but Americans loved it.” (Chapter 9)
With Hollywood eagerly taking a shine to sushi, the food item became popular throughout the country and was no longer exclusively limited to California. There are many sushi bars almost in every city across the country which serve more Chinese food too while focusing especially and specifically on sushi as their main item.
Shizou Tsuji. Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art [Kodansha International: New York] 1980
HISTORY OF EDAMAME, GREEN VEGETABLE SOYBEANS, AND VEGETABLE-TYPE SOYBEANS (1275-2009): Compiled by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi, 2009
Corson, Trevor. The Zen of Fish. HarperCollins, 2007
William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi
William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi