The California roll is a classic example of “American sushi,” early fusion cuisine incorporating new ingredients into traditional Asian recipes.
Food historians generally credit Ichiro Manashita, of the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in Los Angeles, with “inventing” the California roll.
The date is fuzzy, though most agree this item was available in the early 1970s.
California roll….A form of sushi made with avocados, crabmeat, cucumbers and other ingredients wrapped in vinegared rice. It was supposedly created at a Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles named Tokyo Kaikan about 1973 for the American palate but has also gained popularity in Japan, where it is called kashu-maki, a literal translation of “California roll.”
—Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 53)