As a nearly 10-year resident of Japan, whenever I’m back to visit the States I love taking friends and acquaintances out to a nearby sushi bar and being easily the most knowledgeable sushi snob in the whole place. While my buddies are pouring over the weird fusion sushi – inevitably featuring fried shrimp sticking out at crazy angles like that spider-head monster in The Thing – I’m busy cramming the more delicately-flavored and exotic nigiri cuts into my gullet, rolling my eyes around in the back of my head and making exaggerated, mmmm, ohhh man, noises and sometimes giving the side-eye to the guy reluctantly prodding his uni nigiri like it’s going to come to life and slither off the table.

I’ve developed a taste for Japanese style-sushi, in other words, and I’m not afraid to be a jerk about it. But, back here in Japan, I’ll be damned if I don’t sometimes get intense cravings for a good ol’ California roll. Luckily, there’s a great place serving authentic American California rolls and other “Americanized” sushi in Okinawa, just a (relatively) short hop from Tokyo, and you can bet we went to try it out!

It makes sense that Sushi Bar Yoshihachi would be located in Okinawa, what with the massive American military presence on the island and its unique culture that’s slightly removed from mainland Japan’s rigid tradition.


The little sushi joint is located in the Chatan neighborhood, not far from the gate of Kadena Airbase, so our Japanese writer that visited Yoshihachi unsurprisingly reports that around 70 percent of the location’s customers are Americans or otherwise non-Japanese. But, there may be a separate reason for the constant influx of non-Japanese visitors: Yoshihachi’s proprietor and primary sushi chef got his start making sushi back in the U.S. and rumor has it he just might be the inventor of the California roll (although, like with so many foods, the exact origin is uncertain).

Speaking of California rolls, our reporters couldn’t wait to try Yoshihachi’s famous – and appropriately named – “Original California roll,” so they dove right in. Far from being disappointed, our writer gushed over the California roll with a near-incomprehensible string of Japanese adjectives for “deeee-f#$%&n’-licious!,” calling it the best he’s had. 


The cream cheese and avocado “Chatan roll” also tasted great, according to our writer, in addition to the selection of sake and other boozy drinks – and he was careful to mention that the Japanese-style nigiri is out of this world too!



Atmosphere and decor also got an A-plus, with the walls decorated with various American memorabilia, photos of famous American generals and pictures of the bar proprietor chumming it up with American celebrities. In fact, the vibe was so laid-back, our writer wondered if he wasn’t just having a dream of being back in the States the whole time.

Of course, we feel like we don’t even really need to be telling you about this place; Sushi Bar Yoshihachi is practically an institution for American military personnel and foreign visitors. Have you had the chance to visit Sushi Bar Yoshihachi? Let us know how you liked it in the comments!




Restaurant Information
Sushi Bar Yoshihachi / SUSHI BAR よし八
Address: 590-3 Kuwae, Chatan-chō, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken 904-0103
Open 4:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m., closed Tuesdays
[ Read in Japanese ]