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When it comes to foodie trends in the Triangle, one item that’s been popping up on my radar screen: sushi burritos, otherwise known as sushirrito! Usually limited to a poke restaurant or as an add-on to a Japanese restaurant, it seems like the time has come for the first dedicated sushi burrito shop, Sushioki! Luckily an invite from the two owners (Jeff and Lawrence) hits my email inbox so it’s time for a preview visit to the new Sushioki in Durham…
Thankfully I’m pretty familiar with this area of S. Durham at the intersection of 55 and 54. It’s a busy area with lots of little ethnic restaurants and small, shopping plazas. Sushioki is located in the same plaza as Brigs if that helps you at all! Inside Sushioki you’ll find a quick casual set-up in a very light lime-green dining room, it all feels very modern and light. At the order counter, you’ll find a HD panel overhead with the menu and it’s pretty basic, covering eight types of sushirrito rolls, rice bowls and rice chips!
The food is freshly prepared right in front of you on lime-green sushi roll mats (I see a theme here!) and with wonderfully fresh ingredients rolled in nori (seaweed wrap). I suspect most of the food here will do well for vegetarians and gluten-free diners given the heavy rice and seaweed components. The menu here at Sushioki is split between raw (fish) rolls and cooked rolls (pulled pork, fried chicken, bulkogi, tempura shrimp) primarily in an Asian theme.
At the counter, I put in my order for the Oh-my-gaashi, a fried chicken sushiritto with lettuce, pickled cucumber, kimchi slaw, hot gochujang sauce along with some barbeque rice chips. Rolls are priced in the $9 to $12 range and you can make it a meal (chips-drink) for an additional $2.50. The cheerful order-taker hands me my change and a cup, it’s time to self-serve my drink and hang out to wait for mah food! There’s a soft drink dispenser in a corner of Sushioki’s dining room for patrons.
My food is brought out on a plastic tray and I’ve got a substantial 9″ roll wrapped in white, service paper along with a wax paper bag of rice chips, it’s time to eat! Biting into the sushirrito for the first time is an interesting experience. Your mind says burrito while your mouth says sushi so there’s a bit of cognitive culinary dissonance there for a moment. But once you figure it out, it’s all quite tasty combining Japanese flavors and textures with core savory ingredients. The sushi-burrito concept actually works quite well once you figure it out. Sushioki wraps up its rolls and ingredients with great balance providing enough savory protein and fresh vegetables surrounded by the carbalicious rice and chewy nori wrap. And I do like the slightly Asian flavor combinations which are quite playful. I think you may need to find the flavor combination that works for your palate since they are all quite different.
Beyond the food at Sushioki, there’s a very human and community element to their story. I get a chance to chat with the owners of Sushioki, Jeff and Lawrence. They are both members of the Waypoint Church and are committed to providing a living wage for their staff. Sushioki is also committed to helping refugees so a good portion of their hires are from this immigrant group. Jeff and Lawrence decided to launch Sushioki after a trip to the West coast along with help from Lawrence’s sister who develops the recipes and roll combinations! All I can say as a foodies it that it’s an interestnig food concept and certainly a worthwhile social mission. So if you’re curious about the newest foodie trend in the Triangle, check out Sushioki out in RTP/Durham sometime soon. Tasty, healthy Asian-fusion rolls served with a smile will keep you happy!
4900 NC-55 Suite 510
Durham, NC 27713