In Midtown Manhattan, New York City, there are many famous Japanese banks and firms, as well as sushi restaurants. In the past, those restaurants were filled with Japanese customers from nearby companies, but since the recent withdrawal of those businesses, the number of customers has sharply dropped. As a result, Midtown sushi restaurants are in an economic bind now.
In this situation, restaurants that attract a lot of American customers, such as Sushi Den New York and Sushi Yasuda, appear to be flourishing. However, in order to stay in business, other restaurants had to flee this high-rent district. As a result, sushi restaurants have increased on the northern and southern tips of Manhattan Island, since these are residential areas where rents are cheaper. In other words, the concentration of sushi restaurants on Manhattan Island has evolved into a "donut" shape. Many of these establishments have the desire to create new, original types of sushi.
As mentioned above, prosperous sushi restaurants in the US now have more American and fewer Japanese customers. Compared to the first American sushi boom, where sushi restaurants offered menus designed for Japanese tastes, sushi restaurants nowadays try to appeal to American customers by gradually changing the taste of their products from Japanese to American style. This is the major characteristic of the current sushi boom.



There are several trends in the types of sushi preferred by Americans.First of all, although Americans like rolled food, many of them would rather not see "Nori", which is a black, paper-like seaweed used to make sushi. Therefore, it's common to make "Uramaki", a sushi that is rolled backwards. As various styles of Uramaki were created, they evolved into the shapes preferred by Americans, and thus became established as a new type of sushi. It is well known that the first style to become popular was the California roll, an Uramaki made of avocado and crab-flavored fish cake.

Later uramaki variations include salmon, "maguro" (raw tuna), cucumber or fish-egg filled uramaki, resulting in some colorful creations. When green "wasabi" (horseradish) is added to red fish eggs, the effect is very flashy! Many different types of fillings may be used for the center of the uramaki, but rich foods like soft-shelled crab or shrimp tempura are characteristic of American uramaki. Lighter choices, such as maguro, are often paired with fried tempura bits. Although sushi is thought of as a "health food", Americans prefer a richer version, because they tend to like the crispy flavor and texture of fried food.



In the current uramaki sushi boom, red maguro (tuna) is paired with Korean spices, green onion, and sesame oil to create the "spicy tuna roll". As many Americans like spicy food, this has become a regular item on many sushi shop menus. In fact, some shops try to distinguish their versions of the spicy tuna roll by substituting "Tobanjan", a spicy Chinese paste or Vietnamese chili sauces for the Korean seasoning. The restaurants that carry the Spicy Tuna Roll offer it as an appetizer. At the Taiko Restaurant on Long Island, New York, it is made of maguro and flavored with chili sauce, mayonnaise, green onion, "Masago", "ra-yu" (spicy oil) and "shichimi" (seven-spice powder). The Spicy Tuna Roll is used here as a popular "rolled food", as well as an appetizer.
Since Korean and Asian cuisine is popular with young Japanese, it seems that the spicy tuna roll could be added to Japanese sushi shop menus, too.


American people tend to prefer the following types of fish for squeezed, or "nigiri" sushi, as well as maki sushi: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and cooked eel. Although some restaurants have become popular by offering larger pieces of fish (8 in., or 20cm.) for their sushi, not all of them do so. Like Sushi Yasuda in New York City, there are some restaurants gaining in popularity by using as much local American fish as possible, such as New York blackfish, Florida Pompano, and sturgeon from Washington State on the Pacific coast. By using as much American fish as possible in its menu, Sushi Yasuda has become popular as an "American-style" nigiri-sushi restaurant. As sushi is supposed to be made with local ingredients, restaurants like Sushi Yasuda have gained many American fans by contributing greatly to the spread of the culture of sushi. The same high quality of local fish is available at its shops in Japan and the UK, too.
The number of Western restaurants that offer sushi as an appetizer is increasing. By using local vegetables and fish, restaurants are developing original appetizers. Because they aren't restricted by any rules about what sushi "should " be, each establishment can use sushi in its own, unique way.





While sushi continues to be popular in the US, some uncertainties have been pointed out. First of all, it's difficult to thoroughly understand the notion of "quality control". Because sushi is eaten as raw fish, everyone who handles it must take thorough precautions with regards to sanitation. From the moment it's caught to the moment it's served at the restaurant, quality control must be kept. If not, the sushi can't be called "safe to eat". It may seem obvious, but the same standards must be maintained outside Japan as well, or the sushi may not be offered on the menu.
Although this is well understood among Japanese, it is different in the US, where people with various values regarding sanitation prepare food for a living. Therefore, the person responsible for offering the sushi must keep in mind the need for quality control. As the number of Japanese people in charge of seafood wholesalers has increased, it can be said that the circulation of fish is becoming safer. Since Americans are extremely sensitive when it comes to food safety, the lack of thorough quality control may result in food poisoning, thus spreading the impression that sushi is "dangerous".
In order to avoid these negative consequences, especially in the current sushi "boom" that is sweeping America, the advancement of sushi skills is of the utmost importance. From the standpoint of safety, there is an urgent need for regulations concerning proper handling and quality control.



With the increase in the number of American sushi restaurants, competition has become stiffer, resulting in the creation of many individual styles of sushi. Now, it's possible that the "original" sushi that has evolved in America will find its way back to Japan. For example, the spicy tuna roll mentioned previously may be adapted to Japanese tastes. If so, it would be something to talk about!


Of course, when it comes to American sushi, there's more than just maki. The nigiri sushi that originated in the US is now being "exported" back to Japan! For example: "Bond Street", a type of nigiri sushi made of fatty tuna covered in caviar and gold leaf, or "kanpachi (amberjack)" topped with grated daikon radish and chives, served in a chili sauce, or salmon topped with white kelp...the possibilities are endless! Some restaurants have come up with their own original sauces, for example, maguro served in a tofu sauce, halibut in a Japanese ginger sauce and snapper in a "Tosa sauce (a bonito-flavored vinegar and soy sauce mixture) ". You won't find these anywhere else!
There is also a maki sushi version of "Bond Street", served with a special sauce. Shrimp tempura rolled in an uramaki called "Sesame-encrusted Shrimp" is served with a sauce made of curry powder, mayonnaise, orange juice, onion and powdered mustard. All of these recipes share the distinction of being served not with soy sauce, but with a unique sauce designed to bring out an original taste. Under the influence of New York sushi shops, sushi served with sauce has begun to appear even in Tokyo! In the near future, a popular New York sushi shop will set up a branch in Tokyo, where sushi tradition will meet innovation.
From now on, it is highly possible that the traditions of Japan and the innovations from America will stimulate a shake-up in the fixed sushi menu, and the result may have an unexpected effect on the tastes of young Japanese, who might appreciate the evolution of an old-Japan cuisine into something new.