Tag Archives: sushi burrito

Hai Street Kitchen & Co.

A Slammin' Salmon f

I’m a big fan of Uma Temakeria, so I was pretty excited when I found out about Hai Street Kitchen & Co. Like Uma Temakeria, Hai Street specializes in sushi burritos…but bigger ones, with a wider range of ingredients, it seemed—and so I stood no chance. Onto my list it went.

Their only New York City location is at Urbanspace Vanderbilt, which didn’t sound ideal to me—but I figured they’d be worth looking into, at the very least. So what if Urbanspace is full of restaurants that are trendier than they are tasty? That’s a generalization; surely, there are some exceptions, and maybe Hai Street was one.

Hai Street never responded to the message I submitted via their contact form, and their Urbanspace location doesn’t have its own phone number, so I called one of their Philadelphia storefronts. The woman I spoke with assured me that nothing on Hai Street’s menu contains any nuts whatsoever, and that the same should be true of their other locations, too. I would’ve preferred to have been able to speak to an employee who was actually on-site at their Urbanspace stand, but I wasn’t all that worried—Japanese (and Japanese-inspired) food is usually pretty low-risk, so I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Anyway, from what I could tell, Hai Street looked good. Their Yelp page is filled with photos of big-ass sushi burritos packed with generous portions of fish, and their online menu lists a bunch of appetizing ingredient options, so I figured I was in for a treat. If I’d been paying any attention at all, though, I would’ve realized that the Hai Street’s Urbanspace location doesn’t allow for customization—that is, they don’t offer the same build-your-own deal that’s advertised on the chain’s website and available at some of their other locations.

I figured it out pretty quickly when I got there, though. The menu was simple: five speciality burritos, some sides, some drinks, and some rolls. I was a little disappointed—I’d already gotten my heart set on a combination of ingredients—but I got over it. After a few minutes’ deliberation, I ended up with the Slammin’ Salmon (a burrito made with salmon, gochujang, romaine, cucumber, pickled jicama, red cabbage, and tempura crunch) with avocado salsa and without the cucumber, jicama, or cabbage. (What can I say? I wasn’t ready to let go of my ideal. The Slammin’ Salmon wasn’t it, but at least there was no cabbage involved.)

Even without three of its seven advertised components, my burrito was intensely flavorful—though the only reason for that was the homemade gochujang (which tasted much more like sesame sauce than gochujang, actually). As a whole, the burrito wasn’t all I’d dreamed of, but it certainly wasn’t bad, either. The romaine was fresh and crisp, and the rice was tolerable, which helped. The tempura crunch sucked (but I’ve never once enjoyed tempura crunch), the salmon was bland, and the avocado salsa would have been more appropriate on a Mexican taco than a Japanese-inspired dish of any sort—but nothing in my burrito was particularly offensive, so…I did enjoy it. For the most part.

Was I underwhelmed? Yes. Slightly annoyed that I’d just spent $15 for something so mediocre? Um, yes. Still bitter about the fact that I wasn’t able to add the pickled onions and fried shallots I’d seen online? Yes. But you know what? I’d probably eat at Hai Street again, given the right set of cravings—though probably only if I happened to be passing by. My allegiance still lies with Uma Temakeria, but I suppose there’s room for both restaurants in my life.

Find Hai Street Kitchen & Co. at Urbanspace Vanderbilt, which is located at 230 Park Avenue, between 45th and 46th Streets.

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Uma Temakeria and the Sushi Burrito

A sushi burrito from Uma Temakeria

Edit: Closed. Sorry.

Imagine a Chipotle, Just Salad, or Subway (ick) type of place—and then forget all about those, because Uma Temakeria is so much better. It’s another trendy 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 burgersLuther 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.

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 good. Good 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 feeling the need to supplement my meal with a bagel from The Donut Pub, which is right around the corner. Second: The burrito itself was extremely unruly. I don’t think it’s even possible to get through one of those things without a third of its contents spilling onto your tray. Not ideal.

But those minor complaints aside, I do recommend Uma Temakeria. The employees are friendly, there’s a huge variety of fillings to mix and match, and it’s all decently healthy, too. Plus, the seafood’s all sustainably-sourced. I truly can’t wait to go back.

Find this strange creation—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).

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