Sushi Phenomenon

evolution of the sushi culture in Metro Vancouver


Words by Sophia Kim   Photos by Myungsook Lee


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I have an addiction—a sushi addiction. Growing up with parents who were fanatical about sushi, I was exposed to the delicate textures of raw fish at an early age. I learned over time to master the technique of dipping the fish so that the difficult balance between the soy sauce, the stinging wasabi and the spicy pepper sauce—a Korean twist to sushi that my parents have taught me to love—can be achieved for that perfect bite. What I never realized at the time was how the culmination of techniques like this and the fervent love for the delicacy was opening up a whole new era for the sushi culture in Vancouver.

Since the heyday of my sushi experiments, there has been a drastic change to the physical landscape of the sushi culture in Vancouver. What used to be a rare and special experience for many Vancouverites has become mainstream. In fact, sushi has become so popular that it is now common to find prepackaged sushi and sashimi at the grocery stores or convenience stores. But the more important change in the sushi culture of Vancouver has been the rise of variations and styles of sushi leading to a formation of a ¡°Vancouver¡± style.

What is Vancouver style sushi?

The answer is everything and anything. The creativity of the chefs, the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the owners and the rising demand and awareness of the customers have led to the creation of a flexible and all encompassing style of sushi. While traditional sushi restaurants are still an important part of the sushi culture in Vancouver, the fusion twists to sushi have become the trend in recent years. Fusion sushi and the rise of affordable and easily accessible sushi restaurants all over BC have increased the accessibility of consumers to sushi, leading to the boom of the sushi industry.

Bastardized sushi?

One example of a fusion sushi restaurant is The Eatery on West Broadway. The dimly lit restaurant with Warhol inspired interior and loud booming music, offers a creative alternative to sushi. With rolls with names like Captain Crunch and Drunken Monkey, it isn¡¯t hard to guess that creativity is the main focus for The Eatery. Scanning the long and extensive list of rolls in its menu, a customer would quickly realize that The Eatery veers far from the traditional concept of sushi. Instead of offering just raw fish, The Eatery, through the Owner Randy Lum¡¯s many experiments in the kitchen, has added to their menu ingredients and methods that are foreign to traditional sushi.

¡°We were the first to use mango and papaya,¡± says Lum as examples of fusion ingredients inspired by his travels.

But what¡¯s more eye catching is the different methods they use.

¡°We deep-fry. We bake,¡± adds Lum, explaining that like the atmosphere in the restaurant, his sushi too has become ¡°bastardized¡±.

In fact, Lum explains that it¡¯s this ¡°bastardization¡± that attracts his customers. People of all ethnicities and ages (though the majority are younger) come in looking for the different creative rolls.

¡°We¡¯re known for creative sushi,¡± says Lum.


Chicken or Egg? Easily accessible sushi

Another trend that has swept across Vancouver and made sushi a savory phenomenon is the rise of small family owned restaurants dotting the city landscape. Many of these restaurants, owned and operated by Korean or Chinese families in many cases, have served as a gateway to Vancouver¡¯s sushi scene. Louis Kim, the Chef and Owner of Yakko Sushi in Burnaby, explains that restaurants like his offer an affordable and easily accessible sushi experience. While some creative ingredients like jalapeño peppers appear on his menu, the majority of his menu is equipped to accommodate the North American expectation of a ¡°traditional¡± sushi restaurant.

¡°Things like California rolls and B.C. rolls are a western take on sushi that is very popular,¡± explains Kim.

What he has noticed in 16 years of working as a sushi Chef is that the demands from the customers have changed as more and more people became exposed to sushi.


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DIVERSE 5th Issue

We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Summer 2011 has been released.  

12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?

- Open Door Group

- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards

6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits



2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s

Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations

28 Ezra Kwizera  Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide  survivor speaks on the art of  forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture

42 Dana Claxton  

The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy 


24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada      

38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world



32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence

Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional

Ukrainian egg art


10 Publisher¡¯s Note

27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer

31 Canadians come in all differences



35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism

36 Publisher¡¯s Picks


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