Sushi restaurants are everywhere in Los Angeles. But what’s the origin story? When and how was the Japanese cuisine introduced in the region? Daniel Miller recounts the story of L.A.’s sushi revolution, and a friendship between two men who connected through food.
Sushi was, of course, known to Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans in L.A. well before the efforts of Wolff and Kanai, but it was typically simple and homespun. Among the items frequently served in Japanese American homes, Matsumoto said, were inari sushi, a fried tofu pocket stuffed with rice; and futomaki sushi, a thick roll usually filled with vegetables and sometimes cooked seafood.
Their timing was impeccable. In the 1950s and ’60s, Rath said, three innovations made it much easier to import products from Japan: refrigerated shipping containers, regular and direct transpacific flights, and the globalization of Japan’s fishing fleet.