Fusion cuisine, like the sushi burrito, is possibly the gateway to exploring different cultures.
With plastic carry-out bags in hand, Jacob Wantoch became very hungry. Sitting in his car, in the middle of downtown Grand Rapids, it was pouring rain. He dove into the first tin container.
“The sushi was good; the seaweed wrap, the rice was tasty and I liked the sauces inside too.” said Jacob Wantoch, a Holland resident.
But it wasn’t just a usual sushi roll. He had just eaten a sushi burrito, which is an unusual gastronomic concept that has been thriving in the mainstream. Ingredients such as spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber and lettuce are colliding Latin American technique with Japanese flavors. The sushi burrito is a combination of sophisticated sushi and the beloved burrito.
This strange combination has been marketed since 2011 according to sushirrito.com. Originally the idea arose in San Francisco countering sushi’s rising prices and becoming too time consuming. They decided to combine the two favorites of the Bay Area in California, sushi and burritos. It’s not only mixing cultural influences but also convenience and exploration.
“Yeah, because I have friends that opened the sushi burrito restaurant in New York, I am also from New York. Seemed like it was getting more and more popular in the big cities like Chicago, California and New York.” said, Jay Zheng, the manager of Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse.
Some residents of Holland, however, felt skeptical. Japanese exchange students and teaching assistants of Hope College found the concept interesting, to say the least.
Manna Sakon, a Japanese student, called it “Americanized sushi. As long as they know it’s mixed.” She conveyed that the sushi burrito is about sharing two different cultures but it shouldn’t stop there.
“I don’t want people to stop at sushi burrito, you should dig into other sushi. Honestly the sushi burrito can be a gateway to sushi.” said Naoto Eda, a teacher’s assistant at Hope College.
To comment on others’ opinions, Naomi Sasaki said, “At the end people should know that it’s two different things and should experience each culture as well.”
There are three different locations where you can find this treat in the West Michigan area: Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse (Holland), Jaku Sushi (Caledonia,) and Soho Sushi (Grand Rapids,) Each burrito costs between $11 to $13. If raw fish is not your thing, at Jaku they have cooked options and can modify any burrito to your liking.
People love food. This kind of gastronomic engineering can bring people together. After the interviews with the Japanese students, they decided to go to Jaku.
The mixture of cultural influences can be an exciting way to explore with food. It’s also a way to share influences and build relationships. Jacob Wantoch experienced something brand new right in his backyard. Fusion not only causes tasty combination but also adoration for other people’s preferences. Food not only is nourishment for our bodies but for our communities as well.