The History of Sushi in America

March 2, 2018

In recent years, sushi has enjoyed an explosion of popularity in the United States and around the world. Sushi’s increasing prevalence may be taken for granted today, but in the recent past it was relatively difficult to find restaurants serving the delectable combination of sashimi fish, vinegar rice and assorted vegetables. Today, sushi is one of the most ubiquitous cuisines across the country. You can even find delicious and high-quality fresh sushi in Phoenix, AZ.

The earliest known reference to sushi dates back to an ancient Japanese tax document from the year 718. In Japan, sushi has long been a mainstay of daily dining. It took several centuries, however, for the staple to make its way to American shores.

Defining Sushi

Sushi, at its simplest, is balls of vinegar-flavored rice served with accoutrements like raw fish, vegetables and eggs. It is most commonly served as rolls or rolled into balls. Sushi is also commonly topped with nori, a type of dried seaweed.

More complex forms of sushi have evolved in recent years, including battered and fried sushi rolls, and sushi rolls incorporating high-end gourmet ingredients like gold leaf. At its heart, however, sushi is a relatively simple dish.

Sushi in the U.S.

The first wave of Japanese immigrants to the United States settled in California in the early 1900s following the Meiji Restoration, which saw the return of imperial rule in Japan. In Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo neighborhood, sushi restaurants began to slowly crop up. Initially, however, they were limited to ethnic enclaves such as this.

Many Americans soon became interested in Japanese cuisine and culture. Interest in Japanese culture peaked in the United States around 1905, when it was common to see sushi served at high-class social gatherings around the country. The wave even swept as far eastward as St. Louis, Missouri and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Beginning in 1910, interest in Japanese cuisine began to once again decline. During the World War II-era internment of Japanese-Americans, the vast majority of the nation’s sushi restaurants went out of business.

Following the end of World War II, many Japanese-Americans returned to neighborhoods like Little Tokyo. The nation’s first true sushi bar, Matsuno Sushi, reopened in Los Angeles in 1949.

Sushi restaurants in North America continued to make slow progress in the post-war years. Renewed interest in Japanese cuisine began to prompt the opening of additional sushi restaurants in North America during the 1970s, when the California Roll was developed. The now-ubiquitous roll, composed of crab, cream cheese and avocado, was actually first created in Vancouver, British Columbia, in spite of its name.

At the turn of the century, interest in sushi again began to peak. Today, delicious and fresh sushi can be found across the country. There’s a fine selection of sushi in Phoenix, AZ.

PURE Sushi Colony offers some of the very best sushi in Phoenix, AZ! We are proud of our delicious rolls and extensive menu offerings. If you are hoping to learn more about our high-quality sushi, reach out to one of our friendly staff members or pay us a visit. Our happy hour, which lasts from 3:00pm to 6:00pm every day, offers one of the best chances to experience as many delicious sushi bites as you desire.

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