An Australian woman who recently opened a sushi bar in New York has been accused of “cultural appropriation” by Americans who object to the fact that she is not Japanese.
The former lawyer, referred to as “Sushi Sheila” in online discussions, has been called a “colonizer” and received one-star reviews on Google simply because she is white.
After days of being attacked on social media, Sushi Sheila has now found support from users of the same platforms who launched a concerted fightback.
Sushi Sheila first gained attention on TikTok, where she documented giving up her career as an entrepreneur to open Sushi Counter in New York’s West Village earlier this month.
The restaurant’s website promised “Australian-style” sushi, including teriyaki chicken, spicy tuna and avocado and cucumber, for the bargain price of $5 a roll or three for $12.
An Australian woman who recently opened a sushi bar in New York has been accused of “cultural appropriation” by Americans who object to her being white. The owner of Sushi Counter (above) has been called a “colonizer.”
Sushi Counter has been subjected to a barrage of online one-star reviews on social media
“We do one thing (and we like to think we do it well) – Australian-style hand rolling,” the website says.
“We may have a small footprint here in the West Village, but we have a big dream – making fresh, delicious hand sandwiches that you can afford every day of the week.”
This humble dream so enraged Seattle chef Eric Rivera that he took to social media to accuse Sushi Sheila of cultural appropriation because she is white.
“There aren’t enough good sushi shops in NYC, so it’s time to open one!” Rivera wrote on October 20 on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“But it’s ‘Stralian sushi.’ Give me a break, colonizer. “If you don’t understand why this is a problem, you are part of the problem.”
Rivera, who has since deleted the thread, did not address his own plans announced last year to open a Puerto Rican-Japanese restaurant in North Carolina.
Deidree Golbourne, who describes herself as a financial planner, speaker and “cultural historian” under the moniker “Queer Latifa,” participated in the attempt to shut down Sushi Sheila.
Sushi Sheila first gained attention on TikTok, where she documented giving up her career as an entrepreneur to open Sushi Counter in New York’s West Village earlier this month
Deidree Golbourne, who describes herself as a financial planner, speaker and “cultural historian” under the moniker “Queer Latifa,” participated in the attempt to shut down Sushi Sheila
“Why does someone who is not of Asian descent, better yet Australian, open a sushi shop in NYC?” she wrote.
“The contradiction and cognitive dissonance are insane.”
“She feels like she can’t “afford” decent sushi in NYC, a place with one of the largest and extremely diverse Asian populations? Instead, she finances her own sushi shop.
“Colonization is white and pretty scary to watch in real time.”
Sushi Counter has been subjected to a barrage of online one-star reviews on social media.
“The last thing anyone needs is blonde hair and Australian white women appropriating Japanese cuisine,” one reviewer wrote, according to The Publica.
“We are tired of the disrespect white people show our cultures, enough is enough.”
The restaurant’s website promised “Australian-style” sushi, including teriyaki chicken, spicy tuna, and avocado and cucumber, for the bargain price of $5 per roll, or three for $12
Another wrote: “There are plenty of good authentic sushi places in this city and the prices aren’t exorbitant.”
“I suggest going to one of those.” “It’s a colonizing sushi shop run by a woman who thinks she can do better than real Japanese people.”
Much of the criticism ignored the fact that Australian-style sushi actually exists. Aussie sushi consists of larger rolls and uses ingredients such as salmon, tonkatsu, teriyaki chicken, tempura and avocado that are less common in Japan.
Sushi Sheila deleted the content of her TikTok account, but gradually the tables were turned on her critics and other users of the platform began posting positive videos pushing back against cancel culture fighters.
Soon, a flood of five-star reviews poured in about the restaurant on Google, increasing the average rating to 4.8 stars.
Political commentator Matt Walsh took up the fight on behalf of Sushi Sheila, asking the Daily Wire how a restaurant could be “crazy” or “scary.”
“As a reasonable person myself, I cannot imagine how anyone could evoke such emotions regarding a sushi restaurant,” Walsh told his audience.
“The first and most obvious thing is that this crazy standard is only ever applied to white people and would never — and never has — gone the other way.”
“You’ll never hear about a pizzeria being bombarded with negative reviews because it’s owned by an Asian man.” Or a burger joint protesting because it’s owned by a Hispanic woman.
“You’ll certainly never hear anyone telling a black chef what type of cuisine he can’t cook because of his race.”