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27th Oct 2023

Woman causes outrage after opening sushi restaurant because she’s white

Joseph Loftus

‘Enough is enough’

An Aussie woman who set her up her own sushi place in New York has been accused of cultural appropriation by some Americans who object to her not being Japanese.

The former lawyer who has been dubbed Sushi Sheila has even been called a “coloniser” and subjected to one star Google reviews simply because she’s not white.

Sushi Sheila first gained attention on TikTok after she documented her radical career change from lawyer to Sushi maker in New York’s West Village.

Sushi Sheila’s place promises Australian-style sushi including teriyaki chicken, spicy tuna, and avocado and cucumber, for the price of $5 a roll or three for $12.

The website states: “We do one thing (and we like to think we do it well) – Aussie-style hand rolls.

“We may have a small footprint here in the West Village, but we have a big dream – to make fresh, yummy hand rolls you can afford every day of the week.”

Seattle chef Eric Rivera was infuriated with the restaurant and took to social media to accuse Sushi Sheila of cultural appropriation. Rivera wrote: “There aren’t enough good sushi places in NYC so time to open one!”

Rivera, who has now deleted the thread, did not refer to his own plans to open a Puerto Rican Japanese restaurant in North Carolina.

One woman also tried to shut down Sushi Sheila, writing: “Why is someone who is not of Asian descent, better yet from Australia, opening a sushi spot in NYC? The contradiction and cognitive dissonance is maddening. She feels she can’t “afford” decent sushi in NYC, a place that has one of the largest and vastly diverse Asian populations?

“So instead, she finances her own sushi spot. Colonization is white and quite scary to see in real time.”

Sushi Counter was then subjected to countless one-star reviews with one person writing: “The last thing anyone needs are blonde haired Australian white women appropriating Japanese culture.

“We’re sick of the disrespect inflicted upon our cultures by white people. Enough is enough.”

Another wrote: “There are plenty of good AUTHENTIC sushi spots in the city.

“This is a coloniser sushi spot ran by a woman who thinks she can do better than actual Japanese people.”

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