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Trend: Chipotle-style sushi

Two new restaurants take a trendy fast-casual approach to sushi rolls

By
From the Summer 2013 edition

If it works for burritos, why not sushi? Two new fast-casual eateries are taking a build-your-own approach to sushi—Fusian on Campus and Maki Go Downtown. Both restaurants are nestled in the heart of grab-and-go territory, with Fusian reaching students looking for budget-minded meals while Maki Go aims at the Downtown lunch break crowd.

Comparisons to similar restaurants like Piada and Chipotle is inevitable—diners go through the familiar motions of choosing the container (seaweed, soy or bowl) then the protein, vegetables, sauces and toppings. Here’s a look at how these two stack up.

Fusian

 

Part of a chain of restaurants from Ohio State grads (and brothers) Zach and Josh Weprin, Fusian was born out of a love for sushi and an eye for a slick fast-casual concept.

This place focuses exclusively on traditional maki rolls: meat and vegetables wrapped in sticky rice and seaweed, then sliced into 10 pieces and topped with add-ons like panko, sesame seeds or tempura crunch.

Fusian sources seasonal vegetables like kale and bean sprouts from Ohio farms, and you can sample before choosing from the house-made sauces (they run the gamut from wasabi mayo to Worcestershire-like yakisoba).

How should you roll?

For a soft and sweet bite, try the seaweed wrap with fresh tuna, avocado and cream cheese, topped with toasted sesame seeds and drizzled in sweet soy and wasabi mayo. The sweet soy is rich without being cloying; the mayo cuts some of the direct heat of wasabi while still retaining the flavor.

For more crunch, pair salmon and avocado with carrot, cucumber and asparagus, plus a sprinkle of lightly fried tempura. The crisp vegetables offer a nice contrast to the soft salmon and avocado.

Opt for a soy wrap if the taste or texture of seaweed turns you off. And if you’d prefer to avoid seafood, Fusian also serves roasted chicken, braised steak and roasted tofu, all of which can be incorporated in a traditional roll.

Still don’t trust your own instincts? Never fear! Menu cards suggest proven combinations like California rolls, spicy tuna, surf and turf, or veggie.

Maki Go

Chef Jack Chantharangsy and his crew incorporate sushi ingredients in easily handled wraps and bowls. Think of the wraps as oversized maki rolls sliced neatly in half like deli sandwiches, while the bowls are served over sushi rice or brown rice. Walls are coated with chalkboard paint, so look for menus that rotate seasonal specialties.

You’ll find rich bigeye tuna in place of the more common, leaner yellowfin. Other options include fresh Scottish salmon, marinated beef, honey-soy chicken, and salt-and-pepper tofu. And from there, Maki Go deviates from the Asian theme with some Mexican flavors like pico de gallo and jalapeno salsa.

How should you roll?

Go the more traditional route and order a seaweed wrap with tuna, avocado, romaine, cucumber and pico de gallo, sauced with wasabi dressing and the house specialty Maki Go sauce. If the wasabi doesn’t provide enough heat for your palate, garnish your wrap with a side of habanero daikon salsa.

If you don’t feel comfortable making up your own dish, trust the restaurant-suggested wraps and bowls. On a steak roll, soy-and-Coca-Cola-marinated steak is wrapped with romaine, spinach, pico, and green onions. A chicken roll has honey-soy chicken with romaine, cucumber, avocado and green onions.

Vegetarians can find an easy win with the tofu roll: it combines tofu with “everything green” on the menu.