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Mar 28, 2003 01:22 PM

First Sushi-ya in America and the inventor of the California Roll

  • m

Hi all!

I'm researching a paper on Sushi in America and remember reading something on how the first Sushi-ya in America was in Little Tokyo. It opened in the mid 60s? I have also read that the California Roll was invented at a Sushi-ya there...

Anyone have any more information???


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  1. I'm not sure what the first sushi-ya in America was, but allegedly the California roll was invented at Teru sushi in Little Tokyo - I believe in the '70s.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chris G.

      Sorry - I was wrong. I just did a search to confirm this and I mixed up details from a Jonathan Gold article in the L.A. Weekly I read a while back. The article mentioned an unspecified restaurant in Little Tokyo - Teru Sushi (in the valley) was his current pick for a California roll. Maybe you should send an e-mail to Mr. Gold via the L.A. Weekly for more info.

    2. Here are two internet sites that assert that California Roll was invented by Mr. Ichiro Mashita [or Manashita] from Tokyo Kaikan [in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles] in 1960 or 1970. Sounds like a subject for cultural anthropologists.
      (see Essay #5


      1. I used to eat Tokyo Kaikan all the time circa 1970. It was defnitely the place to go for sushi in that era (they also had tempura and teppan bars). But I can't remember when California Roll first appeared, although there is a novel by that name published in 1985.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Lord Lipitor
          Richard Gould-Saltman

          I have a vague recollection of a California-roll-like sushi either at Kaikan or at Ichiban Cafe (just south of the corner of 1st and Los Angeles, if my memory does not fail me) when I was working downtown on Hill, which would have been 1979-81. Can someone push it back further?


          1. re: Richard Gould-Saltman

            I remember that California rolls were pretty common in 1980 - 81 (when I was going to UCLA I'd get them at New Meiji takeout on Santa Monica when I was slumming or at Horikawa when my grant check came in). I'm sure the origin has to go back several years before that.

            1. re: Richard Gould-Saltman

              It was invented by my dad, Ichiro Mashita.
              Check the local japanese newspaper, rafu shimpo,
              that wrote about all the local japanese news.

            2. re: Lord Lipitor

              I was there too since 77'

            3. According to the website at the following link, the first sushi restaurant in the U.S. was Kawafuka in L.A.'s Little Tokyo, which opened in 1960. Maybe a search for Kawafuka will turn up more info.