Sushinomics Show New York Rolls Past L.A. in Living Costs

Sushi on the terrace of Sushisamba in London. This is the Samba London selection. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

New Yorkers have something else to be crabby about.

In addition to soaring rents and taxi fares, sushi prices in the Big Apple gained an average of 10 percent in the past year to overtake Los Angeles as the most expensive city for raw fish and rice, according to the Sushinomics Cost-of-Living Index, compiled by Bloomberg. The measure is based on a survey of prices for spicy tuna and California rolls at restaurants in 25 major U.S. cities.

Takashi Sando, the owner of Marumi restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village said the city’s high sushi prices are a good indicator of its cost of living.

“It’s not only for sushi restaurants, because the rent is more expensive than any other area for that space, so they have to cover the expenses,” he said by telephone from New York. “Also, the people that live here have to pay more money to the chef, otherwise they cannot live in New York City.”

San Francisco maintained its rank as the third most expensive sushi city, while Dallas and Sacramento, California, jumped into the top five from 12th and 10th places, respectively. Prices in Charlotte, North Carolina, climbed 12 percent, the biggest percentage increase.

The least expensive city for sushi was New Orleans, with Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California, and Chicago rounding out the bottom five. Only Orlando, Florida, and Minneapolis/St. Paul had sushi prices decline.

The index shows the cost of living in the cities increased 5.5 percent from a year earlier, compared with an average gain of 1.9 percent for the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. About 40 percent of the restaurants that also were surveyed last year raised their prices by an average $0.22 for a California roll and $0.27 for a spicy tuna roll.

Bloomberg used the survey to find the average price for all 25 cities and then compared each locale to that figure. New York scored 133, meaning sushi prices there were 33 percent above the average. Los Angeles scored 127.7 and New Orleans, with the cheapest rolls, had a rating of 80.

The Sushinomics Cost-of-Living Index in 25 cities and their
rankings, with 100 as average.

New York               132.98
Los Angeles            127.68
San Francisco          119.22
Dallas                 115.18
Sacramento             111.66
Minneapolis/St. Paul   110.97
Seattle                110.70
Austin                 110.32
Denver                 108.31
Miami                  108.06
Boston                 107.98
St. Louis              107.61
Atlanta                107.12
Philadelphia           105.53
Orlando                105.36
Phoenix/Tempe          105.07
Wilmington             100.50
Houston                100.11
Charlotte              98.43
Washington             95.31
Chicago                94.98
San Jose               94.75
Portland               92.29
Columbus               86.37
New Orleans            79.98
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