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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Sushirrito to open in downtown Palo Alto this weekend

Uploaded: Jan 14, 2015
Worlds collide at Sushirrito, the fast-casual San Francisco restaurant that serves sushi in burrito form. And for the first time, those worlds will collide outside of San Francisco this Saturday, Jan. 17, when a new Palo Alto location opens its doors on University Avenue.

The downtown restaurant (sandwiched between Umami Burger and Chantal Guillon, near Kipling Street) is Sushirrito's fourth. Owner Peter Yen first came up with the concept (and trademarked it) in 2008 as a downtown San Francisco worker who craved sushi that wasn't expensive nor time-consuming to eat, but was still high quality.

Three years later, Yen teamed up with Ty Mahler, formerly executive chef at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion in San Francisco, to open the first Sushirrito in January 2011. Two others nearby in San Francisco followed, and Sushirrito laid claim to the 448 University Ave. space several months after Sabrosa Taqueria shuttered in April 2014.

"We've been interested in expanding the Sushirrito brand beyond San Francisco, and Palo Alto is an exciting next step," Yen said in a press release. "University Avenue is a strong destination for food, frequented by Bay Area locals, professionals and college students who crave quality and unique flavors.

The menu at all locations features eight main hand-held, made-to-order sushi burritos stuffed with combinations of raw or cooked fish, meat, veggies, rice and often Asian- or Latin-style sauces and additions. There's the popular " Geisha's Kiss" (Yellowfin tuna, tamago, piquillo peppers, yuzu tobiko, lotus chips, cucumber, butter lettuce, avocado and sesame white Soya; $12) as well as the "Porkivore" (oven-roasted pork belly, shaved cabbage, red radish, avocado, cilantro and mustard seed mayo; $9:50). There's also a vegetarian sushi burrito with Japanese eggplant and portobello mushroom fries ($9), a yellowfin tuna salad ($10) and Asian-fusion nachos ($8).

The sushi burritos range in price from $9 to $13. All fish is sourced from Royal Hawaiian Seafood, which focuses on responsibly produced fresh and live seafood, and is delivered and cut daily, according to Sushirrito's website.

The Palo Alto restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.



Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 9:31 am

Sushi/Asian ingredients in a tortilla to form a fusion burrito is not a new concept. As a matter of fact, it predates Peter Yen's idea.

As a matter of fact, a previous restaurant did this in Palo Alto, World Wrapps (at 201 University Avenue, now the home of Sushi Tomo). The novelty wore off. World Wrapps had to pull back and close many locations, they are now down to four stores. The Palo Alto store shut down years ago, maybe around 2006-2007.

Note that the trademark must be for the Sushirrito name. Yen can't lay claim to the idea of an Asian-fusion burrito (inventions are covered under patent law), and the USPTO does not issue patents for food recipes. McDonald's holds the trademark for the Big Mac name, but they don't hold any exclusive rights to a hamburger with two patties.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 9:51 am

Jay Park: I should have clarified, as it makes them slightly different: They're wrapped in seaweed, like a sushi roll, not tortillas. Did World Wrapps do that?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 10:12 am

I have never dined at World Wrapps, but I think they use Mexican corn or flour tortillas as the wrapper.

Thanks for the clarification, so it's basically a standard nori-wrapped futomaki ("thick roll") with the ends folded burrito-style rather than more traditional Japanese "maki" styles (like ehō-maki with the unfinished ends). There's nothing intrinsically different or innovative about the concept.

Note that if it doesn't contain rice, it shouldn't be called sushi. The word "sushi" refers to the vinegared rice. I guess one could call it a nori wrap or nori burrito if it is missing the rice.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Fan, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm

The flavors are good, and I prefer the nori to traditional tortilla, but don't expect it to hold together like a burrito or you'll be disappointed. Grab a fork before sitting down and focus on the yum.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Andrea J, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 12:36 pm

There are over 600 photos for Sushirrito on Yelp. The sushi burritos have a layer of rice around the filling and then a wrapping of nori. They are wrapped in white paper, cut in half, and served in a cardboard takeout container. I saw photos of a restaurant with a counter and no sit-down tables, and a long line of people extending down the block.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 12:40 pm

That doesn't surprise me that nori is a better wrapper than tortillas for this type of dish.

I don't really understand the purpose of turning it into a burrito-like construction. The rolls "futomaki" ("thick roll"), hosomaki ("thin rolls"), and "temaki" ("hand roll") have been perfected from over a century of experience. The former two are typically sliced into discs that can be consumed in a bite or two, plus can be picked up with chopsticks.

The uncut whole ehō-maki is consumed in multiple bites, but that's considered a casual country roll (it's from the Kansai region).

Traditional burritos themselves don't often hold up without some help (paper or foil wrapper) anyhow.

Aesthetically, you want to see the rice and the ingredients. That's why sushi is presented the way it is. A nori-wrapped "burritos" is just a black lump.

The only time I buy burritos these days is take out, because burritos retain their heat for a while. If I sit down at the restaurant, I'd rather just order tacos. I'd never make burritos at home.

But anyhow, if Sushirrito can find an audience, that's great. Without a doubt, Palo Alto needs a more diverse selection in their dining establishments and Asian cuisines are rather poorly represented.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 1:17 pm

@Andrea J:

Thanks for pointing out that there are photos on Yelp; I'm not a Yelp user myself, so I have no instinct to visit their site.

Looking at the photos from one of the San Francisco stores, it appears that a "sushirrito" is simply a futomaki ("thick roll") in a paper wrapper. Apart from the packaging, it doesn't to be notably different.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 2:38 pm

This whole concept doesn't make any sense to me. What is the advantage of fat sushi roll compared to traditional California rolls cut into bite sized pieces? Diners want to shove the whole thing into their mouths like a burrito? That may make sense with greasy food, but not so much with delicate flavors like raw fish.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cindy Lee, a resident of Stanford,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm

I can't wait for Sushirrito to open in Palo Alto. I've been dying to try them since they are super popular in the city. Now I don't have to trek all the way to SF to get my hands on their sushi burritos.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

@resident:

Futomaki ("thick roll"), with their larger diameter (typically 2-2.5") are capable of holding multiple ingredients.

Hosomaki ("thin roll") are about 1" in diameter and usually only have one ingredient like tuna (tekka maki) or cucumber (kappa maki). There's simply no room for multiple ingredients.

That's basically why the Japanese have two different sizes.

Sushi rice is sticky, doesn't have the same problem as the crumbly rice used in burritos. It's the binder for the ingredients inside. In fact, musubi ("rice balls") don't need any seaweed wrapper at all. The rice is sticky enough to contain the filling and maintain its structural integrity; sometimes small sheets of nori are added to musubi, but that's for flavor and/or aesthetics.

There are also makizushi variants that actually put a layer of rice on the outside of the nori layer.

There's no advantage of eating a whole fat sushi roll other than ease of handling as you eat it in multiple bites (like a burrito). As you say, the traditional ingredients in sushi rolls aren't excessively sloppy or greasy which is why maki ("rolls") can be cut into round discs.

Moreover, burritos are meant to be consumed hot/warm. Sushi is not; the rice is supposed to be at room temperature.

As far as I can tell, Sushirrito is nothing more than a marketing gimmick in their use of a Western food wrapper. That doesn't mean that the contents can't be tasty, I'm just saying it's a sushi roll.

A hamburger is still a hamburger, whether you put it in a paper bag or a cardboard box.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Hoppingmad, a resident of Cuernavaca,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm

I am imagining a long line of perpetually hungry 20 year olds to eat this food every day especially on Saturdays and Sundays. The line will go all the way to Calfornia Avenue Bagel Shop and there will be 100s of Food Trucks trying to sell their food to all these people standing in line.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Courtney G, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:07 pm

@Jay Park
While I am sure someone appreciates all of the Japanese food "education" you are trying to provide :/, if you did even a moment's "research" on this restaurant (check out their very small but interesting menu for a hot second) you would quickly see that it is not simply a "gimmick" of a sushi joint (lord knows we have enough of those in a 3 mile radius), it is unique and I am excited that it is coming to the area. I had one in S.F. (my friend insisted, I almost did not bother since the line was so long, but it was so worth it) and I immediately understood its popularity. [Portion of post removed.]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm

@Courtney G:

Now wait a minute, you are selectively reading what I wrote.

I specifically said "That doesn't mean that the contents can't be tasty, I'm just saying it's a sushi roll," I also wished them the best of luck and pointed out that the Palo Alto dining scene could use the type of diversity that this place was contributing to.

[Portion of post removed.]

I'm just pointing out that the food they are serving are sushi rolls. I'm not saying it is bad, I'm not criticizing them for their whimsical ingredients, whatever. Technically, they are selling sushi rolls.

[Portion of post removed.]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:37 pm

And feel free to flag me for my poor spelling. I should have wrote "its," not "it's."


:-D


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Di Bennett, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Yay for Sushirrito! I am so excited about more great food in PA.

[Portion of post removed.]

Oh, and In n Out burgers come in boxes and bags and they are better than all of the others regardless


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Ann, a resident of Monroe Park,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Yay! I'm so glad they came to Palo Alto. I ate at their SF location. It was delicious!

[Portion of post removed.] I'm Asian and I like Sushirrito.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Fan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 14, 2015 at 11:15 pm

Andrea J,

You missed my name. I've eaten at the one in SF downtown. In my experience, things still fall apart despite the paper.

If you have an expectation and it doesn't meet it, there's disappointment. (Based on comments from others, too.) Which would be a shame, because they're really tasty.

They don't hold together. But if you expect it, who cares. Grab a fork. Start eating it like a burrito, you'll be glad you don't miss any of the rest of it after it falls apart.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:28 pm

This is a completely stupid restaurant idea. I can't see any benefit over traditional Japanese sushi fare.

And I remember World Wrapps. I went there a few times, but the fad wore off quickly.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by danielle, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jan 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

some people don't see the point of this, but their SF locations have lines out the door every day and now they have 4 locations so they are doing something special. it's ok if it's not for you. some people don't like Japanese food at all and that's fine. but many people like Sushirrito even though it may not be traditional food.

World Wrapps uses spinach or flour tortillas for their Asian burritos, not nori like Sushirrito.



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