I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not a big fan of Mexican cuisine because all the dishes seem to use the basic ingredients. But I do like a burrito now and then for a solid, no-fuss lunch.
So when people decide to play with the burrito concept, I get excited about some variety in my lunch. The latest providing a twist to the burrito is Torpedo Sushi, a six-week-old eatery sandwiched in the block of bustling new restaurants and clubs on Grand Avenue in Oakland’s Uptown District.
Torpedo offers up sushi rolls as a “burrito.” This might sound familiar to some of you who are fans of Sushirrito in San Francisco, and you’re right. It’s basically the same idea of a sushi roll packaged as a burrito. But the menu and flavors are different.
East Coast Transplant
Torpedo is the brainchild of Luis Sanchez, a chef and restaurateur who owned or managed sushi restaurants on the East Coast. I met Sanchez as he saw me studying his creative menu outside his tiny eatery, and I learned that he moved here after meeting his wife and opened Torpedo to combine his love for sushi and the quality, seasonal ingredients of California.
While Sushirrito opened with a bang in the heart of downtown San Francisco, Sanchez’s Torpedo seems to be slowly gaining a loyal following. In this early stage, my guess would be either the premium prices for lunch or the kinks in the kitchen might be holding people back.
Full Sized Rolls
The seven or so rolls on the menu range in price from $7 to $12, and it can be a bit of a wait as each is made fresh to order. (Sushirrito, just for comparison, has a whole assembly line system worked out so despite the lines, you’re in and out fairly quickly.)
Despite the high price, Torpedo sushi gives you a bang for your buck in the way of fresh, quality ingredients packed into a roll that’s more protein than rice, which can be a good thing because who wants to get stuffed with mostly rice? The rolls (really, it can’t be considered a burrito because the ends are open and not folded in like a regular burrito) are gourmet with a variety of ingredients stuffed into one roll.
For example, even the ubiquitous California Roll ($8.50) is done differently at Torpedo, which uses fresh and all real snow crab that’s shredded and served up with avocado. But it’s pimped up with cucumber, carrots, green apple, jalapeno, and bits of taro root chips.
My favorite roll is the “Hot Tail” ($11), which is a variation of the spicy tuna roll, but filled with big chunks of albacore tuna, radish, green cabbage, and chives with spicy aioli.
The Last Bite
While some of the rolls can be pricey, it’s evident in the amount of ingredients stuffed into a sushi roll. And while it can be messy to eat, isn’t most of the good stuff best eaten that way?
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
Torpedo Sushi, 25 Grand Ave. (near Broadway), Oakland. PH: 510.228.4111. Open Mon.–Wed., 11 a.m.–3 p.m.; Thu.– Sat., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted. www.torpedosushi.com
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