Why so many of America’s sushi restaurants are Chinese-owned
The influx of low-wage Chinese immigrants — China recently eclipsed Mexico as the largest source of immigrants to the United States — has created fierce competition to provide cheap food. At the same time, Japan’s wealth and economic success helped its cuisine gain a reputation as trendy and refined. So for many entrepreneurial Chinese immigrants looking to get ahead, Japanese food has often become the better opportunity.
“Chinese entrepreneurs have figured out that this is a way to make a slightly better living and get out of the . . . world of $10, $5 food at the bottom end of the market,” says Krishnendu Ray, who leads New York University’s food studies program. […]
“Japanese food has more prestige and seems to, if you just look at a menu, have greater economic opportunity attached to it, because people are conditioned to pay more for rice and protein when it’s presented as sushi than rice and protein when it’s presented as a stir fry,” said Sasha Issenberg, author of “The Sushi Economy.” […]
“I can tell you it is easier to do than a Chinese restaurant,” says Kin Lee, the owner of Love Sushi in Gaithersburg, Md., “and the profit margins are better.”