Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Brief History of Sushi in the United States

A native of Japan, Eiji Mori has led a distinguished career in the restaurant industry since he came to the United States at the age of 20. Today, Eiji Mori serves as the executive general manager of Sushi Roku Newport Beach, one of the most successful sushi restaurants in California.

Though sushi restaurants are now common in cities and suburbs throughout the United States, this was not always the case. Until fairly recently, sushi was difficult to find away from the coasts and considered by many Americans to be a rare and mysterious delicacy. 

Originally a street food in Japan, sushi -- a term that actually refers to the type of rice that traditionally comes with the raw fish -- dates back more than a thousand years. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the dish made its way to the United States. Though some food historians believe that sushi first arrived in the US in the 1950s, most agree that sushi first became firmly established in the late 1960s with the opening of Kawafuku Restaurant in Los Angeles.

As sushi’s popularity spread in Los Angeles, especially with celebrities, more Japanese chefs immigrated to the US to open their own spots in California. The increasing proliferation of sushi restaurants dovetailed with a general surge in popularity of Japanese culture, and by the 1980s sushi restaurants were opening throughout the United States.

Today, the American craze for all things Japanese shows no sign of slowing down, and sushi has become a staple part of the diet for millions of Americans. According to industry statistics, by 2017 there were more than 4,000 sushi restaurants generating over $2 billion in revenue each year.