Gourmet, quick-service sushi burrito cart SuBo to open up in Whiteaker

The “Caterpillar” sushi burrito from Unami. Photo credit: Meerah Powell

Unami Sushi in Springfield (4205 Main St.), claims to be Oregon’s only sushi burrito restaurant. It’s likely the only one in the world that serves sushi burritos with bacon.

The restaurant’s bacon sushi burrito is an elaborate combination of spicy tuna, fresh salmon, cream cheese, roasted jalapeño, cucumber, tempura applewood smoked bacon, avocado and house-made sriracha maple sauce. All of this is wrapped in soy paper or crunchy seaweed.

“It’s definitely one you won’t find anywhere else,” said owner Toby Helms.

Unami’s menu features roughly 20 sushi burritos. From the conventional “classic” burritos to the “premium” burritos, each contains 9 to 14 ingredients. Different varieties of raw and cooked Oregon-caught fish, seaweed salad, types of tempura and veggies native to a typical sushi roll, and house-curated sauces craft the menu’s impressive variety.

“When I first started seven months ago, getting people into sushi burritos was like pulling teeth,” said Unami sous chef Joey Noles. He added that customers are generally distrustful of new menu items. But “now they get it every time.”

The foil-wrapped burritos, essentially larger sushi rolls, are undoubtedly well worth the trip into Springfield. However, sushi-craving customers in Eugene will soon not have to travel far to find their own sushi burrito.

On Oct. 5, Unami will open a second location, SuBo, a cart situated at West 3rd Ave. and Van Buren St. across from Ninkasi Brewing in the Whiteaker neighborhood. The new location comes with patio seating and a smaller version of Unami’s menu.

Prices start at $9 and go up to $16 for more decadent burritos like the Samurai (made with fresh salmon, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, and seared pacific albacore tuna sashimi). SuBo’s menu will also feature nachos made with spicy Oregon albacore, served over organic, multi-grain Late July chips.

Each recipe, although complex, is delicately crafted, and no single ingredient overpowers the palette.

 

Helms previously managed 2nd St. Sushi in Hamilton, Montana. The restaurant was deemed one of the top 100 Asian restaurants in the country in 2011 by MenuAsian.com. There, Helms created wine and sake pairings with different plates of sushi. Designing these courses forced him to create new combinations constantly.

“[Making recipes] is kind of like chemistry,” said Helms. “A lot of times it’s not what you put in, it’s the amount.”

2nd St. Sushi’s head chef Dan Carlson joined Helms in Springfield when he opened Unami in Springfield in June 2013.

Helms opened Unami as a quick-service sushi destination. The existing fast sushi alternatives were restaurants where pre-made sushi coasts by on conveyor belts. He noted that these restaurants rarely diversify their menus.

“It’s usually California rolls wrapped in something else,” he said. “I wanted people to order whatever they wanted and get it made right in front of them.”


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