Since it launched in mid-January, we've heard the steadily building hype about the Jogasaki Burrito truck (@jogasakiburrito), a clever mashup of Japanese sushi and Los Angeles street food. The buzz runs the gamut, everything from “Sushi in a burrito, why didn't someone think of this sooner?” to “OMG! It's the new Kogi!!!!!!!” As to the former: we know. Why didn't somebody roll this truck out sooner? As to the latter: not quite yet.
The Jogasaki Burrito truck has a lovely truck; it's bright orange with a logo of a samurai in a sombrero. The operators are smart to stay true to the roots of street food by focusing on burritos — self-contained, easily held and consumed without much fuss — while adding their own twist.
The burritos, which range from $4 for a California burrito to $8 for a lobster burrito, all contain some version of sushi, albeit of a non-traditional, usually deep-fried and often mayonnaise-drenched variety, on a generous bed of rice. They're served at room temperature, fine for a sushi roll but a little off-putting for a burrito. Diners can choose between a traditional tortilla or, for $.50 extra, a thin sheet of soy paper studded with black sesame seeds. It's tasty and well suited to the flavors in the burritos, but it's thin and tears too easily, so unless you're sitting down, the tortilla is a better bet.
This isn't Urasawa-level sushi, but then we wouldn't expect that from a food truck. This is a cheeky and mostly successful culture clash.
The Jogasaki #2 ($7) is a good place to start. It has a little bit of everything: shredded imitation crab in mayo, mashed up spicy tuna, avocado slivers, cucumber wedges for crunch and the sweet brown sauce commonly found on unagi. If you want your food spicy, you can ask for a cup of the house-made hot sauce: a mixture of the sweet eel sauce and jalapeno paste.
We're also partial to the salmon skin burrito (#5), which is a bit dry but has a tangy, citric flavor and chewy strips of dried, fried salmon. The shrimp fiesta burrito ($7) was the least impressive. Tempura is best when it's hot and fresh. As it cools, the breading grows heavier and when placed on a bed of rice, it's a starch overload.
Jogasaki also makes a handful of funky snacks like spicy tuna nachos ($4), a deep-fried shrimp thingamabob called the Fire Cracker ($4) and the jalapeno bomb ($3). The latter are fileted jalapenos that are breaded, fried, stuffed with salmon paste that would be right at home on a bagel then drizzled with sweet eel sauce and sprinkled with bonito flake. Creative and weird but not very lovable.
We stick to the burritos. So do most of Jogasaki's followers, who are giving this truck some well deserved attention.