Eastern Europe is surprisingly sweet on sushi

Google data points to the world's most sushi-crazed metro areas.

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Sushi on platter
Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for NYCWFF (Getty Images)

The Takeout is aggressively pro-sushi, whether it takes the form of a special occasion food or an excuse to use a plastic bazooka. Turns out, our sushi-loving tushes would thrive in Vancouver, which, per a Google Trends assessment by the food blog Chef’s Pencil, is the world’s most sushi-crazed city outside of Japan. But while Vancouver ranks at the top of the list, a surprising region swept the rest of the top five: Eastern Europe.

Some background: Chef’s Pencil, an online resource for chefs, recently analyzed a year’s worth of Google Trends data to answer one question: Which cities outside of Japan are the most obsessed with sushi? Chef’s Pencil used “popularity scores” provided by Google Trends, allowing the site to showcase the places with the “highest concentration of sushi-related searches the world over.” Those scores were determined using “sushi-related searches made in any language.” Those search terms included “sushi near me,” “sushi restaurants,” “sushi recipes,” and “суши,” which is “sushi” in Russian.

Vancouver, the thriving seaport in British Columbia, came in as the non-Japanese sushi capital of the world. The city’s ranking makes sense. “Indeed, one count puts the number of sushi places in Vancouver Metro at over 600 and there’s something for every taste and budget,” Chef’s Pencil writes.

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But the rest of the Top Five may come as a bit of a surprise. Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia, is the runner-up; however, as Chef’s Pencil explains, many former Soviet Republics have developed a sushi obsession over the years. You can find sushi on restaurant menus across Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, with no less than three Ukrainian cities in the top five spots on the Chef’s Pencil ranking.

Quick note here: sushi is often served a bit differently in Ukraine, often featuring a layer of fish outside of the roll accented with heavy cheeses. Regardless, Eastern Europeans are snapping up raw fish on the daily—and I can’t say I blame em.