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East Side Sushi 

Wednesday, Sep 16 2015
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As its title implies, Anthony Lucero's terrificEast Side Sushiis hardcore sushi porn, but it's also funny and uplifting. Juana (Diana Elizabeth Torres) is fruit-cart proprietor and gifted slice-and-dicer, struggling to scrape out a living in East Oakland with her father Apa (Rodrigo Duarte Clark) and her daughter Lydia (Kaya Jade Aguirre). Dreaming of bigger and better things, Juana gets a job doing food prep in a sushi restaurant. In spite of the disapproval of her father (because she's Mexican) and the restaurant's owner (because she's Mexican and female), she sets her sights on becoming a professional sushi chef, and competes on theIron Chef-like show Champions of Sushi.East Side Sushiworks on a number of levels, including as a deconstruction of the concept of authenticity (the white clientele will only consider sushi "authentic" if it's made by Japanese men), and as a charming, understated romance between Juana and the head sushi chef Aki (Yutaka Takeuchi). But it's ultimately a meditation on what it means to exist in a multicultural and increasinglygender-equitable world, a world that has difficulty accepting that a Mexican woman can be no less qualified than anyone else to roll vinegared rice in seaweed. And if the sight of Juana's Green Diablo Roll doesn't make you drool, have your salivary glands checked.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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