As a new immigrant to Vancouver in 1971, Japanese chef Hidekazu Tojo (of the city's cherished Tojo's Restaurant) quickly realized that most Western palates weren’t accustomed to raw seafood or seaweed. In an attempt to accommodate Canadian tastes at the time, he went against Japanese tradition, and flipped the roll inside out to hide the seaweed, and substitutedraw fish for cooked crabmeat. He eventually called it the “California” roll, simply because California tourists showed the most love for the unconventional roll during their visits.
These days, you’ll find it made with avocado and/or cucumber, topped with tobiko or even a slice of raw fish, although none of the aforementioned were included in the original recipe. It’s arguably the most popular sushi roll worldwide, and likely the gateway dish that introduced many North Americans to the delicious world of sushi.