When I heard fusion burrito-sushi rolls were being served in Hillcrest, I made it my next meal.
Rolled Up recently opened in a storefront with a history of failed burrito shops. Its predecessors built burritos on a Chipotle-style assembly line, and that’s remained intact, except now the goal is wrapping big seaweed sushi rolls stuffed with raw fish, rice, and a mix of traditionally Asian and Mexican vegetables.
It’s a veritable sushi-making machine involving a quartet of uniformed women reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel making chocolate, except these ladies do a better job of it. It begins with a literal sushi-making machine, a strange printer-like contraption on the back counter. A large sheet of nori feeds into it like paper, white rice loads into the top, and from the printer tray below comes a perfectly pressed sheet of seaweed spread evenly with rice.
Woman number one slathers a thin layer of Thai ginger guacamole across the top of this, followed by scoops of marinated fish from a refrigerated tub. She passes this on to the vegetable handler who reaches into bins for ingredients such as lightly pickled Persian cucumbers, corn, tempura, tobiko roe, and jalapeño. I spotted some asparagus, julienned carrots, and jícama in there too, for future reference.
The third person takes over rolling duties, using a large green bamboo mat to shape what turns out to be a fairly fat tube. She wraps it in foil, plasters a Rolled Up sticker across the top, and passes it to the last girl in the chain who has prepared a plate dressed with three small puddles of mayo: wasabi, teriyaki, and spicy. She takes payment, thus completing the novel transaction.
Ingredient options included shrimp tempura, agave-glazed salmon, and Korean short ribs and beets, with preset rolls running $9 to $11. For an extra buck, I opted for a half-and-half, one side getting a marinated hamachi, the other a poke-style ahi. Both fared well in texture and flavor and meshed nicely with the other ingredients, though I enjoyed the hamachi slightly more.
My friend lamented the option of true wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger that would have come in a sushi restaurant. Overall the place felt more sushi style than burrito, though this might prove different if we’d gone with carne asada, roasted red peppers, and cilantro. Custom rolls are available for $12 and up, and it’s easy to see mixing and matching flavor profiles becoming part of the fun eating here. A single roll should be enough to satisfy most lunch appetites.
3884 Fourth Avenue, Hillcrest
You can order to go as well, which might be the best bet considering this is a small, sparsely arranged shop in a cramped parking lot on a heavily trafficked street corner. More importantly, Rolled Up doesn’t serve alcohol, and I can’t think of another food-fusion concept that would go better with beer than this.