The world of mashups is an authentic triumph of contaminations: amazing new takes on ethnic cuisine, unusual and imaginative fusions and ideas verging on eccentricity. From variations on thesushi theme to those inspired by the world of pizza, from new style burritos and wraps to wicked desserts. Some are hybrids designed to cross new commercial frontiers, while others are mashups that respond to unappeasable craving for novelties in fast and casual (sometimes fine) dining.
Sushi-burrito is born of a marriage between oriental cuisine and Tex-Mex. The forerunners of "differently interpreted" burritos appeared in San Francisco in 2011, conceived with the intent of melding two of the most popular specialities of the Bay Area: sushi and burrito. Rice, meat or fish, vegetables, spices, herbs and sauces (in various degrees of piquancy) are wrapped in nori but then, instead of being sliced into rounds, enjoyed in its entirety, just like a burrito. Got the hang of the game?
Having conquered San Francisco thanks to Sushirrito (the restaurant chain now counting six venues located on the West and East Coasts) and the Kome trucks, then came the turn of Los Angeles backed up by the tireless wanderings of the Jogasaki food trucks; after six years, the idea is still going strong. So much so, that it continues to be popular well beyond the West Coast - from the Buredo of Washington DC to the Burrito San of Miami passing through Denver with the Komotodo - and now dictates trends at several latitudes.
As the foodies of Johannesburg know all too well: this is where the Sushi Burrito & Co recently inaugurated at Melrose Arch has been greeted enthusiastically by public and critics alike, as also in Glasgow, where the Temaki on Hope Street is making a fortune.
… and New Style Burritos
In the wake of such an enduring success, it was certainly only a question of time before more fun variations on the theme started to appear. Those worth trying are the Peruvian-burritos (the nori is replaced by a thin tortilla filled with rice and quinoa as well as tomato sambal, avocado, egg and beef or chicken, and possibly mushrooms too.
The phở-rritos, on the other hand, contain the ingredients of the Vietnamese "phở" soup such as beef or chicken, soy shoots, rice spaghetti, coriander, hoisin sauce, chilli pepper and onion, all wrapped in a very thin tortilla.
The kyeritos are the "portable" versions of what we generally find in a bowl. First conceived by the California-based Kye's, rice, proteins, legumes, vegetables and hot spicy condiments (or milder ones), eggs and spices are wrapped in nori, kale or cos lettuce leaves before being packaged in transparent bags.
Not to be confused with korritos, that is to say sushi burritos reinterpreted the Korean way: the alga is used to wrap the rice (white or purple) which, in its turn, reveals a centre of meat (beef, pork, chicken) or tofu, kimchi, avocado, marinated corn, mild or hot sauces, the list of possible ingredients is very long and varied.
First of all, what is lox? The answer is simple: it is practically the twin brother of gravlax (or gravadlax), in other words, Scandinavian style marinated salmon, and one of the most characteristic ingredients of American Ashkenazic Jewish cuisine. What has the bowl got to do with it? You should ask Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi, the couple who own the Shalom Japan (Brooklyn, New York) and have put their name to some of the most appealing Jewpanese mashups of recent years.
It all started in 2013, with the matzoh ball ramen, which combines the best of two soups and is still highly successful even outside of the Big Apple: in Cambridge (Massachusetts) and in Boston, for instance, the Little Donkey is based on the same combination, even though it has been revisited.
Now, never weary of melding their two cultures, the Israel-Okochi duo has come up with the idea of the lox bowl: marinated salmon is combined with rice, avocado, cucumber, Japanese pickles and a fried egg, all of which is artfully composed in a bowl, which is after all one of the most successful trends of 2017.
Have you ever heard of the Belly dog? Invented by Urbanbelly (Chicago), it is an artfully concocted blend of Latin American-Korean inspiration (and much more besides). The sausage is the traditional frankfurter and may be served up in the customary elongated bread roll or between two slices of toasted bread: what makes it so different (to the great amazement of even the most expert hot-dog trotters) is the addition of pickled green papaya, egg noodles and curry-flavoured mayonnaise. It even comes with its side dish: hot spicy chips (a tribute to Japanese togarashi, with their mix of chilli pepper, sansho pepper, ginger, algae, sesame and roasted orange peel).
Forget the soft iced doughnut with a filling and try to imagine a doughnut made of rice and artfully garnished with the most delicious seafood, herbs and spices, vegetables and fruit. Its origin is somewhat obscure (it is fabled that the initial flash of inspiration came to food blogger and writer Sam Murphy in New Zealand): sushi doughnuts (aka do-shis or su-nuts) of the most elegant composition, are causing a lot of buzz on the Social Media and the fine dining milieu. In Miami, for example, Danny Khoetchapalayook, executive chef of the Nai Ya Ra, prepares them with sea urchins, salmon roe, crabmeat, black truffle...
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