It may seem strange to come to the United States to eat Japanese food, but many international students studying English in the U.S. are excited to find that Americans LOVE sushi!

Most students–especially those who have been to or are from Japan–note that the sushi you find in California restaurants can be different from the sushi in the East. In fact, “Western sushi” is a style of sushi that is very popular in the U.S. This style of sushi began when the California Roll was invented. The California Roll consists of imitation crab, cucumber, sweet sauce, and the final (very Californian) ingredient: avocado. It is very popular in U.S. sushi restaurants.

After the California Roll was invented, the sushi industry exploded with new, inventive rolls. The following is a guide of some of the rolls you might see on a menu in the U.S.


Common sushi menu items in California

Alaska roll

Similar to a California roll, this roll has raw salmon instead of crab. (Alaska is known for its delicious  wild salmon!)

Dynamite Roll-JapaneseFoodAdventures
The Dynamite roll is a favorite of many Americans. Photo from Japanese Food Adventures.

Dynamite roll

Yellowtail or prawn tempura are the base of this roll. It is filled with ingredients like bean sprouts, carrots, avocado, cucumber, chili, spicy mayo, and roe.

Philadelphia roll

Cream cheese in a roll? It might sound strange, but the creaminess of the Philadelphia cream cheese works well with the cucumber, avocado, and salmon. This simple roll is found throughout the U.S. and is even sold for take away in many grocery stores.

Rainbow roll

So colorful! Avocado and a mixture of sashimi (yellowtail, salmon, tuna, etc.) top this roll and give it beautiful colors, hence the name. It is a delicious work of art!

RainbowRoll-SushiDeliMango roll

If Americans put cheese in a roll (see the above Philadelphia roll!) then it is no surprise that they also enjoy fruit with their sushi! Typically, a mango roll has avocado, crab meat, tempura shrimp, and mango slices. It is topped with a creamy mango sauce. Although it is sweet, it is often spicy as well. A great combination!

Spider roll

Soft-shell crab is the main meat of this roll, which is also stuffed with cucumber, avocado, and usually spicy mayonnaise. Yum! The best thing about this roll is the texture combination: soft-shelled crab is fried and is slightly crispy, the rice is soft, and the avocado and mayo are creamy. Yum!


San Diego and San Francisco are filled with delicious sushi restaurants. What is your favorite place to eat sushi in these two beautiful cities?