Monday, August 14, 2017

Sushirrito

Update Review, Kearny Street Location, August 2017

It has been years since I last visited Sushirito.  The concept, as a refresher, is simple: sushi, in burrito form.  Perfectly trendy:
"We infuse multi-cultural flavors into every sushi burrito. By blending the premium flavors and healthiness of sushi with the form factor and convenience of burritos, we serve fresh, convenient, large, hand-held sushi burritos."
Since then, Sushirito has flourished.  They have 4 locations in San Francisco now, plus down in Palo Alto and San Jose, but have also recently expanded to New York.  The San Francisco locations are still primarily mid-week lunch places, and the lunchtime lines are still crazy long.

Our visit this time was to the newer (but still several years old) location on Kearny St near Union Square, the only location open on Saturdays, and, at dinner.  We arrived at 6:30pm on a Saturday.  There were only a few other customers dining, and a few who came while we were there, but otherwise it was fairly quiet.

No issues with ordering, staff were pleasant enough, and our sushiritos were quickly assembled to order.

And they were excellent.  Better than I remembered.  I'll gladly return, hopefully, without waiting several years ago next time.
Limited Seating.
There is very little seating at the Kearny Location.  4 small tables with high seating are pushed together (seating for 8 total, we broke them apart into two tables for 4), and a couple small low tables around the perimeter of the room.  Most people get their food to go.

The rolls all come boxed to go, even if you are dining in.  There is no option for a plate.  The boxes do unfold into kinda cool "plates" though, but I failed to get a photo.
Cold Fillings: Veggies, Tamago, Raw Seafood, Herbs, Sauces.
Sushiritos are made to order, Subway/Chipotle style, with a cold well set up with all the pre-cut veggies, raw fish, herbs, dry crunchy ingredients, and sauces.
Hot Fillings: Crispy Chicken Katsu| Oven-baked agave-soy salmon (covered) | Tempura Asparagus | Shrimp Tempura.
Hot items come from a steam tray, which somehow manages to keep the tempura items and fried items crispy.
Sumo Crunch (no guac). $11.
"Shrimp tempura, surimi crab, shaved cabbage, cucumber, ginger guac, red tempura flakes, and sriracha aioli."

I have a confession.  I haven't really been into sushi lately.  Raw fish just hasn't done it for me, for years now.  I wish it did.  I really wish it did.  And I don't understand why I stopped liking sushi.  But, sometime in the past few years, I stopped liking sushi.  So, all the raw seafood rolls featuring yellowtail, tuna, or salmon belly, just weren't appealing.  I also quickly ruled out the beef and crispy chicken katsu options.  Which left me with 4 options, all radically different: Salmon Samba (with oven-baked soy glazed salmon and tempura asparagus), Porkivore (pork belly and chicharrons!), Buddha Belly (vegetarian, with eggplant and mushroom fries), and the Sumo Crunch (tempura shrimp and crab).  I opted for the later, a play on a California roll.

Like all rolls, it was served wrapped in paper, sliced in half.  This form factor, as silly as it sounds, really is remarkably easy to eat.  Like a burrito.  Like a sandwich.  It makes sense, really.

The rolls are also huge.  I guess, like a San Francisco burrito in that way.  And not because they load them up with tons of rice.  Because they are stuffed full of quality ingredients.

Most (maybe all other?) sushirito rolls come with the seaweed on the outside, rice inside, but this one is inside out, with rice on the outside, seaweed under that.  It was coated in red tempura flakes, which I loved.  They were crispy, salty, and looked like roe at first, until I realized what they were.  They made the roll a bit more fun, and I appreciated the crunch.

The insides were even better.  The roll was absolutely stuffed with shredded "crab" (yes, it was surimi).  Soooo much "crab".  It was not seasoned itself, but when combined with the sriracha aioli it was very satisfying, although of course I would prefer real crab.  I did wish my roll had more aioli though, I wanted a bit more creamy goodness.

The tempura shrimp was even better.  The batter was very flavorful, it wasn't oily, the shrimp well coated, and it was somehow still crisp.  Remarkable, really.  Each roll had 3 large tempura shrimp in it, an incredibly generous portion.  I also liked the shrimp with the aioli, again, wishing there was a bit more aioli.  I loved the crunchy texture from the tempura shell, and the chew from the shrimp, they added to the satisfaction of eating the roll.

The cabbage provided a bit of freshness, and, like everything else, went great with the aioli, basically forming slaw.  If Sushirito wanted to carry side dishes, I think a slaw like this would be fantastic.

The only thing I didn't like in my roll was the slices of cucumber.  They were fine, thin slices, but, I don't really care for cucumber.

I had to leave the guacamole out, because I'm allergic to avocado.  Perhaps it would have added the additional creaminess, such that more aioli isn't normally needed?  Luckily for me, this is one of their very few allowed changes.  The menu is very clear: "No substitutions, additions, or modifications other than the listed options allowed."  They mean it.  I couldn't have the guac on the side to give to someone else.  I couldn't add anything in its place.  You certainly couldn't try to make up a roll mixing items from other rolls.  I know they have good reason for this, but, some flexibility would be nice.

Overall, this was wonderful.  The crab, tempura shrimp, cabbage, and aioli combined together beautifully.  The roll was full of textures and flavors.  It was extremely satisfying to eat.  As another dinner put it, "That was just a really complete package".  I agree.

The $11 price was also extremely reasonable for such a large roll (we actually split one, and were both satisfied), even if it has crab stick rather than real crab.

Original Review, March 2013

I have a list of places that I want to check out for lunch, but they are only open M-F, and only during lunch time, so they I rarely get the chance to go, as I'm a spoiled employee who gets served delicious meals at work, and it is hard to justify the time and cost of leaving the office.  However, today there were a bunch of extra people in the office, making for long lines in the cafe, so we decided to venture away and (gasp!) pay for lunch.

We went to Sushirrito, a place that I've had on my radar for quite a while.  Described as the lovechild of sushi and a burrito.  So perfectly San Franciscan!  This sounds gimmicky, for sure, but reviews were decent, and the website claimed they used quality ingredients.  So, we decided to take our chances.

We rounded the corner and immediately saw the line, even though we tried to go slightly off peak, at 1pm.  Uh-oh.  The line was sizable.  And really slow.  It gave us plenty of time to consider our options: two rolls with raw fish (hiramasa or yellowfin tuna), one with cooked salmon, one with cooked crab, or the more ridiculous ones with pork and bacon, chicken kastsu, or soy puffs.  All of the rolls also contained rice, assorted veggies, and fun things like fried cream cheese, lotus chips, or tempura veggies.  And they all had crazy custom sauces, usually creamy.  Wrapped in rice and nori, rolled up like a burrito, and served sliced in half. These things were massive.  They looked like burritos for sure, but, with sushi ingredients.  Exactly as promised.

A lot of Yelpers complained about the prices, $8.50 - 11.50.  I guess compared to a burrito this is pricey, but I thought the price was completely justified.  The rolls, as I mentioned, were huge, and had substantial amounts of fish in them.  If you were to just extract the raw fish, you'd easily have a $10 sashimi platter, so I really don't understand the price complaints.  It isn't a burrito folks, it is sushi!

The rolls were made to order, sorta Subway style, with the workers going assembly line style, starting with one person who prepared the outer nori wrapper and rice, the next who added the protein layer, the next who added the veggies, then next wrapped and sliced, and then finally the cashier rang you up.  Very efficient, with the bottleneck definitely being the cashier.  The ingredients were being sliced up in back and very quickly replenished, so even though the fish and veggies were not sliced immediately to order, they really hadn't been sitting long at all.

Overall, it beat expectations.  It was by no means fantastic sushi.  And it probably wasn't worth the 30 minute wait.  But, the fish was certainly reasonable quality and the flavor combinations were pretty interesting.  And, more amazingly, the concept did work.  While I appreciate the simplicity of sashimi or nigiri, and really enjoy tasting raw, unmodified fish in those forms, I also do love sushi rolls.  I like a simple salmon and scallion roll, but I also love a spicy tuna with mango slices covered in macadamia nuts roll.  These aren't the same thing, and they serve totally different purposes, and this falls into the same category.  If you want to really taste the fish, and you want super high quality fish, this isn't it.  But if you want something fun, portable, easy to eat, and pretty tasty, this isn't a bad choice!

The biggest thing I missed out on from traditional sushi was the soy and wasabi.  There were many flavors built into the rolls given their plethora of ingredients, and particularly with the sauces, but I did want some soy sauce and wasabi to add on.  They also suffered from the same issues that all but the very best burritos have: distribution of ingredients.  Anyone who eats with me regularly knows how obsessed I am with "the perfect bite".  I love nothing more than finding that bite that contains all the right ingredients, in the right balance, to just achieve perfection.  And with most food, you can make these perfect bites.  But burritos/sandwiches/etc are special, and you have to just consume things as presented, which, if the maker is rushed/doesn't care, leads to inconsistent bites.  And these definitely had that issue.

Anyway, I'd go back regularly if it were closer, open better hours, and didn't have such long lines.  But for now, I'll be putting it back on the list, to try again some other day, but I'm not in any rush to do so.

Geisha’s Kiss: Yellowfin Tuna (Hand-Caught), Tamago, Piquillo Peppers, Yuzu Tobiko, Lotus Chips, Cucumber, Avocado, Green Onions, Sesame Seeds, White Soya Sauce.  $10.50.
There was a very generous amount of tuna in the roll.  I was somewhat shocked at how much there was, particularly given all the Yelp complaints on pricing.  And it was all pretty decent.  No strange textures, no stringy fatty bits, just decent cuts of decent fish.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The rice was pretty standard sushi rice, nothing notable, and the nori was crispy and slightly salty.  I absolutely loved the crunch from the lotus chips, but I felt that there weren't enough in the roll.  In the future, I'd ask for more!  The avocado and the sauce added a delightful creaminess and richness.  Sadly, there was barely any tamago, which was a big part of why I chose the roll, as I love tamago (although, I'm not quite sure how good that would have been with the tuna anyway).  The bits that were there were tiny little chunks.  Again, I'd ask for more in the future.  I know, I'm crazy, wanting more of the cheap ingredients and less of the tuna :)  There was also barely any of the other ingredients, which was dissapointing, since I was looking forward to a spicy kick from the piquillo peppers.  It was really quite fun to eat, certainly the easiest sushi I've ever had!

I also had a bite of "The Yakuza": Hiramasa Sashimi (Australian White Fish), Spicy Jicama, Cucumber, Lola Rosa Lettuce, Red Tobiko, Avocado, Green Onions, with Citrus Mojo sauce.  I thought it was a lot better.  The fish wasn't as flavorful as it was just a simple white fish rather than a more intense tuna, but the rest of the flavors, and particularly the sauce, were much more pronounced.  And it tasted a lot fresher and lighter due to the higher percentage of refreshing veggies, like the lettuce, cucumber, and jicama.  I loved the kick from the spicy jicama!
Sushirrito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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