California Roll at a sushi bar in Haebangchon. Seoul, South Korea. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.
In the 1960s, Los Angeles, California, became the entry point for sushi chefs from Japan seeking to make their fortune in the United States. The Tokyo Kaikan restaurant then featured one of the first sushi bars in Los Angeles. Ichiro Mashita, a sushi chef at the Kaikan, began substituting avocado for toro (fatty tuna), and after further experimentation, the California roll was born. Mashita realized the oily texture of avocado was a perfect substitute for toro. Traditionally, sushi rolls are wrapped with norion the outside. But Mashita also eventually made the roll “inside-out”, i.e. uramaki, because Americans did not like seeing and chewing the nori on the outside of the roll. The California Roll started a new fusion trend and proved that multiple main ingredients could be used for one sushi and that non-Japanese condiments could be utilised as well.