Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Free Japanese Burrito Day at Hai Street Kitchen & Co

Thanks to Michael Klein, much of Center City got wind of a free Japanese burrito promotion happening at Hai St Kitchen & Co today, a new concept from one of Morimoto's sous chefs that first debuted in London (because America wasn't quite ready). I can count myself among the jackasses that subjected themselves to a two-plus hour wait to try what was essentially an enormous maki roll, something that would set you back eight bucks and most likely a shorter wait on a normal day. Part of it was curiosity, and part of it was, "Hey! Free food!" And although I'm not much for lines (because we get everything instantly because we live in the future), I have to admit that it was actually worth the wait. I'm curious to know if others felt the same way, because this was all I saw when I looked behind me:

But enough about the social dynamics of subjecting people to long wait times to get free shit. Let's discuss the Japanese burrito. I had plenty of time to go over the menu, but I was pretty set with a Signature Roll Combination called "The Crunch" from the time I decided to wait it out. To keep things moving, ordering and preparation follows Chipotle's assembly line concept. It all starts with a magic machine called a Maki Master that cranks out square tiles of sushi rice, providing Hai Street's version of a tortilla. Next, you pick proteins, vegetables, and sauces, all of which are overstuffed into the roll. This is what differentiates it from normal sushi. The roll is literally burrito-sized (and only cut into two pieces):

Empty Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee cup shown for scale. That's only half the roll.
Inside this monstrosity was shrimp tempura, spicy mayo, romaine lettuce, cucumber, pickled mango, and asparagus. Since it's mostly made-to-order, everything tasted fresh. The tempura had a nice crunch, the rice was well-cooked, and the spicy mayo was balanced nicely with the cucumber and mango's brightness. Oh yeah, and it was free (if you don't count the opportunity cost of waiting). I could probably take down more than one in a sitting, but this was a good start. It will definitely be a welcome addition to the lunch options in Center City. Buen provecho.

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