The Popularity of Japanese Food in the United States

September 3, 2018

You may be surprised to learn that Japanese food has not always been so commonplace in the United States. The reason this may be surprising to you is because it can often seem that every street corner has a sushi restaurant, ramen shop or teriyaki joint, and Japanese food is always at your fingertips.

In the 19th century history of the United States, Japanese food began its migration to the U.S. through its many Japanese-American immigrants. Still, the Japanese culture and food traditions remained relatively insular to those particular communities. It wasn’t until after World War II that Japanese food began to catch on in any real volume.

Now every city in the United States has its own high-end sushi restaurant and sashimi bar. In Phoenix, AZ, that is PURE Sushi Colony. What are some of the highlights of Japanese-American cuisine? We explore some of those here:

  • Tempura: Seafood and vegetables are deep fried in a light batter made primarily of flour and some type of carbonated drink. This was the first widely palatable Japanese dish besides teriyaki to hit the American public.
  • Teriyaki: It is no surprise that teriyaki followed tempura closely as one of the top American favorites. If there is one thing Americans like more than frying, it’s grilling. Teriyaki takes choice cuts of various meats—pork, beef or chicken—and grills them in a soy sauce mix.
  • Sushi: You can find the California roll in just about every grocery store in the United States now. Made with fresh avocado and shrimp or other ground fish, the California roll blends Japanese food with the United States ethos perfectly, although not entirely authentically. There are other types of sushi that have become popular as well, including sashimi (sliced raw fish), roe (fish eggs) and hand rolls with a seaweed wrapper.
  • Ramen: There is nothing more comforting than a hot soup on a cold day. Ramen is the omnipresent food choice of almost all university students and broke young adults. But it also transcends this, and can be high-end. Even now there are more combinations of ramen hitting your local restaurant—egg, pickled vegetables, fish broth and poached meat are just a few of the potential ingredients that could be in a bowl of ramen.
  • Bento box: If you like Japanese food and cannot choose just one dish, the bento box is the perfect option for you. With endless combinations of salad, tempura, dumplings, variations of sushi and rice, this lunchbox style mix blends the best of everything together.

So why is Japanese food so popular in the United States? It’s probably safe to say that healthy ingredients and savory spices are what make Japanese food traditions so palatable to Americans, and also make it the number three cuisine in the world, following only Italian and French. Some dishes like sukijaki also became popular because they were prepared tableside for a wide-eyed audience. Wonderstruck and full, Americans continue propagating the Japanese food tradition through the United States and beyond. Come try some of these favorite dishes today at PURE Sushi Colony, your sushi house in Phoenix, AZ!

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