In another post, someone mentioned sushi with cream cheese in it as part of high-end California style sushi. I live in So. CA, and have never see sushi with cream cheese offered at any of the sushi bars/restaurants we frequent, so I looked it up online. It came with up the Philadephia Roll, which is smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber. I have never seen this on a menu before!
It got me thinking that sushi rolls are probably created based on regional preferences. I think while sushi has been popular for years in LA and NY, its only recently became popular in other metro areas, and therefore, chefs are coming up with rolls to fit the area. The California roll was invented in LA by a sushi chef in the 70s. The Philadephia roll was also invented by an American chef who felt his customers wouldn't want to eat raw fish. Here in LA, most locals wouldn't order a California roll at a sushi bar (of course, there are always exceptions!) but I just looked at menus for the three sushi bars we go to and none of them offer a Philadelphia roll.
Living in LA, we get excellent sushi here. DH and I prefer more traditional sushi and sashimi. One sushi bar we've been to a couple times offers a Garlic Shrimp roll, which was basically hot sautéed shrimp with butter and garlic, wrapped in rice and nori. Think Shrimp Scampi in a roll. I ordered it once, to try it, and it was good, but its not what I think of when I go out for sushi. The chef who served us that day said they came up with it because they didnt have many offerings for the non-raw eaters. A $$$$ sushi place near us does a Kobe beef sushi with lemon, salt and drizzled with truffle oil. Delicious but definitely nontraditional.
What unusual sushi and/or sushi rolls have you seen on a menu?