Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oh, Hai! Japanese burritos coming to Center City

Hai Street Kitchen, a Japanese-ish offshoot of sushi-ist Genji, will debut its fresh concept near Rittenhouse Square. On Day One, rolls will be free.

Oh, Hai! Japanese burritos coming to Center City


You know sushi.

You know burritos.

What if you mixed the two: Rolling ingredients like flank steak, shrimp tempura, chicken katsu, salmon, pork belly, or portobello mushrooms, alongside other vegetables and sauces, inside a rice-lined sheet of nori - the ubiquitous seaweed wrapper.

You'd get what appears to be an oversize (8-inch) sushi roll, with everything inside cooked.

That is what they'll be selling starting Thursday, May 22 at Hai Street Kitchen, opening at 32 S. 18th St., the former Grillicious.

You can get a free taste of Hai Street from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 21; staff will give away one roll per customer.

Tasting is believing. I brought a few different rolls back to the office last week, and it was raves all around. One colleague enjoyed the nori because it kept all the pieces nicely wrapped. "It was chewy, as it should be, but then gave way to the rice, which was soft, and then I got a nice crisp snap from the carrots and cucumber strands."

The rolls - which can be made with white or brown rice and customized with different sauces and toppings - sell for $6.99 to $8.99.

If you can't get behind the idea of cooked ingredients stuffed inside nori, note that you can get it in a bowl of either rice or mixed greens - as in, "roll it or bowl it."

The Hai Street shop has limited counter-type seating, and kindly offers electrical outlets at each seat to allow patrons to recharge.

Hai Street is a side project of Genji, the Philly-based sushi giant that supplies Whole Foods. Chef Takao Iinuma, a former sous chef for Masaharu Morimoto, developed the concept, which debuted in March in London.

Iinuma says Genji wants to open several more Hai Street locations in Philadelphia, with a goal of 20 shops in five years.

Menu is here (PDF).

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Michael Klein Philly.com
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