Saturday, December 27, 2014

Good Taste: A 'sushi' burrito game-changer

The Slammin´ Salmon roll from Hai Street Kitchen & Co. (Craig LaBan/Staff)<br />
The Slammin' Salmon roll from Hai Street Kitchen & Co. (Craig LaBan/Staff)

Only 15 percent of Americans enjoy eating sushi, according to research by the owners of Genji, the Philly-born sushi chain with stands now in 190 Whole Foods markets.

They hope to capture the remaining 85 percent with Hai Street Kitchen, a smart new "fast casual" serving Japanese-themed burritos and bowls that just launched on 18th Street.

The menu avoids the stuff that give 85 percenters pause: raw fish, chopsticks, tiny portions.

But the elements of sushi are there - namely that seaweed-and-rice wrapper - and supersized into a half-pound, eight-inch roll of maki pleasure.

Mix-and-match stuffings (a la Chipotle) and add "crunch" (a la Bobby's Burger Palace) whether it's steak, teriyaki and crispy shallots, chicken katsu, or shrimp tempura with spicy mayo.

My favorite, though, was the "Slammin' Salmon," a gochujang-spiced mix of romaine, pickled mango, crunchy yucca, and "tataki" salmon so lightly seared, you might think it's still raw.

It's Hai Street's best-seller, leading me to wonder if more "non-sushi-lovers" actually like it better than they realized. Which means Hai Street's onto something and, with plans for 10 more soon, is just about to go boom.

- Craig LaBan


Slammin' Salmon, $8.99, Hai Street Kitchen, 32 S. 18th St., 215-964-9465;

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