Cheap Eats

Buddha's Belly: Burrito San's Sushi/Burrito Mashup

Crazy food mashups continue to flourish, with hybrid creations pushing culinary boundaries like never before. For a while, the cronut had its moment. Then the ramen burger.

Now comes the sushi burrito, which downtown Miami eatery Burrito San has held the reins on since its opening almost a year ago.

The burrito rolls at this fast-casual joint are plump and packed with white or brown rice and a variety of eclectic pan-Asian components wrapped in nori (seaweed). Husband-and-wife duo Johnson Teh and Kazu Abe, along with Samuel Getz, are the masterminds behind Burrito San, located at 119 SE First Ave. At the very core, Abe says, is their intention to push people out of their comfort zones into something they’ve never tried before.

“There isn’t anything out in Miami that has the same kind of blend of flavors and execution that we do,” she says. “When people come here, they’re really impressed by the quality and the flavors, and I think they’re a little surprised by what can be done in a fast-casual setting.”
Teh and Abe, who also own long-running restaurants Lan and Yuga, wanted to create a concept they could replicate more easily. The flavors featured in Burrito San’s menu stem from their other concepts, but they’ve combined them in a way that’s portable, easy to consume, and more on-the-go, Abe says.

Take, for example, the glorious handheld burrito-size sushi roll that is sure to make any stomach rumble with happiness. Dubbed Buddha’s Belly ($9), it’s packed with roasted portobello mushrooms, crunchy Chinese eggplant, creamy avocado, shredded carrots, and organic field greens and drizzled with garlic miso sauce.

“It has a different texture, a different kind of an appeal,” Abe says. “It was really important for us to have vegetarian options for people — even if you’re not a full-time vegetarian or vegan — to still be enticed by what we’re offering.”

Another standout vegan option is the Saucy Tofu ($9), filled with ginger-braised tofu, creamy avocado, shredded carrots, organic field greens, wonton crisps, and black bean sauce. The burrito rolls can be served in a salad-style format in case sushi burritos aren’t your thing. The salad option comes on a bed of organic field greens mixed with Kazu’s Krazy Rice, which is a low-carb blend of organic quinoa, buckwheat, and cauliflower.
Burrito San’s short menu also features other unconventional items, from a side of Asian nachos ($7) to mandarin orange crème brûlée ($4). In addition, guests can sip a shortlist of hot and cold sakes, craft beer, red and white wines, and refreshing homemade lemonades such as lychee strawberry, ginger lemongrass, and mango green tea, made with pure cane sugar for $2.95.

Cofounder Getz has known Abe and her family since she was a little girl — Abe’s parents, Chika and Yasuko Abe, were the first chefs to introduce sushi to Miami, in the late '70s, with their traditional Japanese restaurant, Su-Shin. Together, Getz, Abe, and Teh have revolutionized sushi culture as well as the widely held notions of fast food.

“It’s really ideal for today’s lifestyle. It’s healthy. It’s natural. You can take it on the go or eat in. It’s quick and fresh. Even the sauces are made here,” Getz says. “It’s certainly Japanese-style, but it’s not just Japanese. It’s a blend of a lot of different Asian cultures, so it’s totally unlike anything down here.”

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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.