Imagine a Chipotle, Just Salad, or Subway (ick) type of place—and then forget all about those, because Uma Temakeria is so much cooler. It’s another fast-casual restaurant, sure. But instead of burritos, salads, or sandwiches, Uma Temakeria specializes in Japanese hand rolls, made however the hell you want.
Apparently, they brought NYC its very first sushi burrito. They also have chirashi (bowls) and temaki (hand rolls), but I, forever drawn to gimmick and novelty, had to go straight to the burrito. (Seriously. Gimmicky foods, and in particular, food mashups, are my weakness. Ramen burgers, Luther burgers, cronuts, cragels—if it sounds like a terrible idea, odds are it makes me drool.)
I’ve been reading about (and downright lusting after) the sushi burrito for at least a year now, but it wasn’t until this week that I even thought to look into where it’s sold and whether I might be able to eat it. All my Google searches led me to Uma Temakeria, which looked promising—their menu was straightforward and their ingredients were simple, at least—so I decided to give them a call.
Sure enough, there are no nuts on their menu or in their kitchen. Still, I’ve categorized Uma Temakeria as “technically not nut-free,” as I don’t have any reason to believe they collect allergen statements from their vendors, nor do they make any guarantees about cross-contamination. I do think, though, that this place is about as low-risk as they come.
Now, I’ve literally been fantasizing about a Chipotle-style Japanese place since Chipotle first got me hooked on customizable fast-casual, so imagine my delight when Uma Temakeria turned out to be just that. For my first sushi burrito, I went simple: white rice, salmon, tuna, ponzu sauce, avocado, tobiko, sesame seeds, and scallions—and you know what? It was absolutely delicious.
Now, the fish wasn’t the world’s best—the tuna was bland, and the salmon wasn’t all that much better—but it certainly wasn’t bad, and everything else in my burrito was fresh and flavorful. Gimmicks aside, that thing was pretty tasty. Really tasty, actually—for a fast-casual place, at least. Tasty enough, at least, to offset all the “I’m a huge tool” feelings that came up in the eating process.
I do have two complaints, though. First: For $14 ($11 for the burrito, plus an additional $3 for avocado and tobiko), it wasn’t a lot of food; I ended up supplementing my meal with a bagel from The Donut Pub, which is right around the corner. Second: It was extremely unruly. I don’t think it’s even possible to get through a sushi burrito without a third of its contents spilling onto your tray. But I paid $14, so you better believe I ate every last scrap that fell—as did everyone around me.
Those minor complaints aside, I highly recommend Uma Temakeria. The employees are friendly and enthusiastic—though not off-puttingly so—and the sushi burritos are lovely. Plus, it’s pretty healthy, and the seafood’s all sustainably-sourced. I truly can’t wait to go back.
Find this blasphemous, delicious concoction—and its two far-less-strange companions—at 64 7th Avenue (right off 14th street) or at Gotham West Market (600 11th Avenue, between 44th and 45th).