Is a burrito by any other name just as mind-blowingly and tummy-pudgingly delicious?
We’ve been around the block with fusion burritos that share only a flour tortilla with the pseudo-Mexican favorite but leave behind beans for bulgogi, and carnitas and rice for pho ingredients.
But the newest rolled craze, the sushi burrito, dispenses with even the tortilla, simply Kaiju-sizing everyday sushi rolls. The result is a cheap and filling lunch for anyone who can ignore the thousands of years of craft that preceded it. (Don’t worry, I totally can.)
This spring, carts specializing in sushi burritos have sprung in each quadrant of our fair city, meaning you’re never more than a few minutes from the latest trend. (There’s even a spot called Hissho behind security at PDX, but we’ll stick to the places you can get to without booking an outbound flight.)
Sumo Sushi’s spot near PSU is probably the most logically placed of any of the sushi burrito carts, because when it comes down to it, this is the perfect college food. It’s not subtle, it’s not refined, and it’s less than $10. Normally I prefer to stick with simple nigiri, letting the fish and rice do the talking. But after eating more than 10 sushi burritos, I’ve found the best choice is to pick a protein with heft—subtle unadorned yellowtail is guaranteed to get lost in the fray of cucumber, lots of vinegared rice, nori, cream cheese and whatever the hell else is tossed in there.
The Lucky Dragon ($9.50) struck the right note of bold fillings without going too far into cream cheese fatty land. With tempura shrimp, barbecue eel, a thick helping of avocado, and cucumber, it was substantial enough to keep me full through dinner without sending me into a food coma. The MYZK ($8) comes with a hefty dollop of mayo (if that’s your thing) with shrimp, lettuce, tamago, and masago eggs. It’s much fresher, but definitely needs a boost of packaged wasabi or soy to keep it lively.
For $20, you can get a Spider Sushi B-ritto, a rainbow roll, and a California roll—more than enough to stuff two people. The rolls are as you’d expect, but we’re here to talk about that Sushi B-ritto. This one’s got tempura soft shell crab, surimi crab (NOT crab, but it looks like it!), avocado, and cucumber. It’s not the best spider sushi burrito out there (read on for the Teppanyaki Hut’s), but Wasabi Sushi is in both the Cart Lab on the waterfront and in the Tidbit food pod on Division. Location and price are half the battle, and in that department, Wasabi Sushi wins.
Inside the Rose City Park pod, Let’s Roll definitely knows its Portland audience. All sauces are gluten free, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options (one with tempura Japanese squash, asparagus, and carrot looks really freaking good), and you can even wrap it in soy paper instead of seaweed if you’re that weirdo.
It’s the most expensive sushi burrito I tried, but the Over the Rainbow ($11) had enough fresh, raw fish stacked inside to stand up within the burrito format. The tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and crab salad were all fresh as could be, and the ginger guac and teriyaki aioli kept me from reaching for more condiments to spice it up. Plus there’s musubi to be had: Don’t skip a $3 chicken katsu treat.
There’s ramen at the Teppanyaki Hut, but you’re here for the Black Widow Sushi Burrito, a roll with rice on the outside, sprinkled with tempura for texture. Inside, a deep-fried soft shell crab swims among avocado and crab salad, while black tobiko pops among the snap of fresh cabbage, cucumber, and fresh lettuce. It’s a very good roll for $9—in flavor, satiety level, and cost, it tops all but the best conveyor belt sushi spots. There are other sushi burritos here—the Volcanic Eruption delivers the spice it promises—but make sure you get to at least go halfsies on that crab.