Philadelphia's first Japanese burrito bar opens today. The Hai Street Kitchen, located at 32 South 18th St., offers 10-inch Japanese-inspired burritos made with naturally sourced products and locally grown vegetables.
"We are making monster massive sushi rolls with protein," said Patrick Hughes, Hai Street Kitchen regional manager.
The six main ingredients are steak, Mexican spiced pork belly, portobello mushrooms, chicken tender loin and seared salmon. The burrito is wraped in nori, a green seaweed wrap, and may be customized.
Miki Inagaki Radack of the Japanese Association of Philadelphia said the Japanese burrito made her think of Setsubun, a festival celebrated in Japan in February. During the festival, large sushi rolls are consumed and not cut up. The eating tradition coincides with the soybean throwing festival and the act of eating the large sushi roll signifies good luck.
"I've never connected sushi to a burrito but that's a Western appeal," said Inagaki Radack. "But it's not that ridiculous of a dish. If you bite the whole sushi roll around springtime, you will get rid of the bad spirits for the coming year."
If you are not a fan of seaweed, the eatery offers a rice or salad bowl. The Japanese burrito is a concept conceived by chef Takao Iinuma who studied under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The Hai Street Kitchen is offering free samples from noon to 3 p.m. on its opening day.
Genji is the Hai Street Kitchen's parent company and supplies Japanese food to Whole Foods. The restaurant is looking at 5 additional sites in Philadelphia and is projecting to open 20 locations in the next 5 years along the East Coast.