Ode to the California Roll, The Gateway Food To Sushi - Digest - Los Angeles magazine

Ode to the California Roll, The Gateway Food To Sushi

The California roll is in truth the epitome of a gateway food.

Illustration by Matt Huynh

Shunned for being uncultivated, considered by some a taste to outgrow, the California roll—an inside-out combo of avocado, crab (or, more twistedly inauthentic, faux crab), and cucumber—is in truth the epitome of a gateway food.

We have the chefs at Tokyo Kaikan, a downtown spot that leaned toward tiki, to thank for this anti-purist’s dream. In the late ’60s, seeking to familiarize their clientele with the idea of hand rolls, they crafted a slightly denatured artifact that has proved to be a stalwart and unexpectedly of the moment. Sustainability was—and still is—an issue: The substitution of a lime green Hass for tuna was a response to a shortage of (quaint thought!) seasonal bluefin. Accessibility is prized: The California roll might have underplayed its heritage—the sheet of dark green nori seems concealed inside—but it offered an entry into a tradition for many who had never peeked behind noren curtains before.

Today a lineup of cool, creamy-centered disks on a plate is the stuff of nostalgia. But like our Cobb salad or French dip, the California roll will not be relegated to memory. Instead of a corruption, it has come to represent a lean ideal we fell hard for. From the gambit offered to see if we’d bite, it has turned into the tidbit enjoyed by all.


Hidden LA

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
  1. Kahees posted on 02/04/2014 02:03 AM
    I love California roll sushi. You can get more food item in my site
showing all comments


Subscribe to Los Angeles magazine
$(document).ready(function(){ $('#ctl00_MainFull_GenericControl4_uc73867103f2a245958f90e70d1ed893d5_pnlArticleContent').remove('p'); });