What’s for lunch? Why ask, when it’s International Sushi Day (June 18th).
Statistics from Bold Data show that the number of sushi restaurants in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last 10 years—prior to the pandemic.
During the pandemic to date, in 2021, along with the country’s mass closing of restaurants, there’s been a decrease of 311 sushi establishments.
Hopefully, 311 new ones—and more—will replace them as life heads back to pre-pandemic activity.
There are currently 18,944 sushi restaurants in the U.S. We’ve probably been to 100 of them!
In 1966, the Kawafuku Restaurant opened in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles (it closed in 2006).
Although sushi had been served long before then, it was the first restaurant in the U.S. dedicated to sushi.
According to the Michelin Guide, sushi was trendy in the very early 1900s.
The article refers to author Megan Howord, who says in her Sushi Cookbook that one of the earliest mentions of sushi in America appeared in a 1904 Los Angeles Herald article regarding a luncheon thrown by socialite Fern Dell Higgins.
Sushi continued to be the “it” dish, the article continues, “served at chi-chi luncheons and dinner parties across the country (even reaching into North Dakota) until the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 cut ties between Japan and the U.S.”
Alas, we have been unable to find any reference to Megan Howord and the Sushi Cookbook elsewhere, except for this same reference repeated over and over again. Is it real? We’ll do more research.
The article points out that with the anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II, Japanese businesses would not re-emerge until the late 1940s.
But back to Kawafuku: It started a movement, with L.A. as the start of a great trend.
By the late 1960s, new sushi restaurants were opening up all across L.A.: 50 sushi shops by 1970 and today, 833 of them.
By contrast, according to Bold Data, New York has 467 sushi restaurants.
It’s not a surprise that Japan is home to the largest number of sushi restaurants: 42,897.
The U.S. comes in second with 18,944 sushi shops. And Canada completes the top 3 with 2,529 sushi restaurants.