In the biggest sushi-loving town on the planet, can this unique twist on Japan’s food culture succeed?

In some ways, you could argue that Tokyo is the worst place on the planet to open a “sushi burrito” restaurant. Not only is it the capital of the country that created sushi culture, it’s also got the busiest fish market in the world in the Toyosu neighborhood, as well as the prestige of the many sushi restaurants still operating in Tsukiji, where the market was based until just a few months ago.

But on the other hand, you could argue that all will work to the advantage of Beeat, a sushi burrito specialist that just opened in Tokyo on November 30. After all, Tokyo is already packed with traditional sushi restaurants, and rather than compete with them directly, Beeat is offering diners something they can’t get anywhere else in the city.

So we decided to keep an open mind until we’d tried Beeat for ourselves. We sent our Japanese-language reporter Tasuku to do the taste-test honors, since he loves both orthodox sushi and burritos, and was curious to see how Beeat’s sushi burritos, which are really a new type of food rather than a subset of either of their linguistic components, taste.

It’s not just the food that makes Beeat unique, though. Located not far from Akihabara Station (and just down the street from the otaku hair salon we recently visited for a trim), Beeat boasts technological innovations as well. Customers who’re in a hurry can order and pay for their food online, and the restaurant has a futuristic design with numbered compartments where you pick up your meal. Even the pricing is high-tech, with an AI program setting how much the restaurant charges based on market prices for ingredients (prices tend to run between 780 and 1,300 yen [US$6.90 and $11.50] per burrito).

▼ Tasuku’s boxed sushi burrito, with his name printed on the label.

Since it was his first visit, Tasuku decided to stuff himself by ordering three different sushi burritos, in order to sample as much of the menu as he possibly could. First up was the Magu Avo Tokyo Road, with top-billing going to its tuna (magura) and avocado.

Beeat’s sushi burritos come pre-cut to make them easier to eat, which also gets you a sneak peek at the ingredients rolled up in them. Along with a generous portion of tuna and avocado, Tasuku’s first course also had shredded carrots, lettuce and cucumber. That’s actually a lot more vegetables than you’d find in a traditional sushi roll, making the sushi burrito a pretty healthy and nutritious option in that regard.

Gourmands will tell you that the word “sushi” indicates not raw fish, but vinegared rice, which Beeat does indeed use as a thin layer, sprinkled with sesame seeds, around the core ingredients. The very outer wrapping isn’t a tortilla, like it would be in a normal burrito, but rather a sort of wrapping like a wanton skin.

Biting into the Magu Avo Tokyo Road, Tasuku discovered there was a slightly tart white sauce on the veggies, which was a little like mayonnaise. Each order at Beeat also comes with three sauces that you can add to taste. The teriyaki went well with the burrito, as did the salsa, but the wasabi sauce was far too spicy even for veteran wasabi-lover Tasuku, who quickly set it aside after it assaulted his tongue and sinuses with its fiery fury. As long as he wasn’t using the wasabi, though, the Magu Avo Tokyo Road was nicely balanced and tasty, with the tuna being of the same tasty quality he’d expect at reasonably priced dedicated sushi restaurants..

Next it was time for the Anago These Dreams.

This is almost exactly the same as the Magu Avo Tokyo Road, with the only differences being a different colored outer wrapping and replacing the tuna with anago (saltwater eel). Since anago is usually a pretty pricy ingredient, Takusu resigned himself to getting only a meager morsel of the expensive seafood, but a pre-tasting examination revealed a nice-sized chunk.

However, anago has a pretty mild flavor, and it wasn’t all that noticeable mixed in with so many other ingredients in the same bite. Things improved considerably when Tasuku added a dash of teriyaki, which is similar, thought not exactly the same as, the sweet sauce often added to the top of pieces of anago nigiri-style sushi.

Finally, to finish things off Tasuku opted for the Omar King of Kings, which seems to be named after the 2006 album from Puerto Rican reggaeton recording artist Don Omar.

The name didn’t really give Tasuku any clue as to what to expect on the ingredient list, and when he opened the box for the Omar King of Kings, he was still confused. There was no white sauce this time, and some shredded pickles had been added o the vegetable mix. But what was the orange thing, seen to the left of the cucumbers in this photo?

There was only one way to find out, so Tasuku took a bite, and as he chewed, he realized that it was a cream croquette which had been compacted and mashed in the burrito rolling process. Personally, he’d have preferred an uncrushed, if smaller, croquette, but once he knew what he was eating, it wasn’t bad.

So what’s Tasuku’s overall take on these sushi burritos? He thinks they’re all tasty, and as long as you don’t have any mental hang-up about the mixing of sushi and burritos (and also a loose definition of burrito, since there are no tortillas here), then you’ll probably enjoy them. “Are you the kind of person who’s OK with California rolls?” he asks. “If so, then yeah, they’re worth trying” (Tasuku himself is a huge California roll fan).

However, if you’re after an authentic sushi experience, sushi burritos probably won’t scratch that itch. Because of that, the Akihabara location gives Beeat an uphill road to success, since the large number of foreign tourists who flood the otaku mecca on a daily basis are primarily there because of a love of Japanese things, and they might find the idea of sushi burritos a little watered-down or weird (or even chu to hampa, to use a Japanese term). On the other hand, these days Akihabara also draws plenty of Japanese travelers and day trippers too, and they might be craving something offbeat before heading back to their hometowns (which also will have plenty of plain old ordinary sushi restaurants), so maybe they’re the ones who’ll ultimately decided whether Beeat keeps going strong.

Restaurant information
beeat Sushi Burrito Tokyo /
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Soto Kanda 5-6-2
Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]