The rolls at Burrito San at 119 SE First Ave. in downtown Miami are big, fat sushi rolls the size of a burrito wrapped in crisp toasted seaweed. The menu is small and concise, with nine rolls, a few soups and sides like lemongrass-chicken coconut-milk soup, and wonton nachos topped with avocado, braised pork, tomato and cilantro cream.
Owners are the husband-wife team of Johnson Teh and Kazu Abe, who also run Lan near Dadeland Mall and Yuga in Coral Gables. Teh is a Chinese Filipino from Manila and did apprenticeships in Taiwan and at his parents’ banquet hall, then worked at an Asian restaurant in Beverly Hills. Abe is Japanese-American and came to Miami from New York as a youngster. Her parents also run Su Shin, a Japanese gastropub in Coral Gables.
The two met working for Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group in Chicago. They partnered with Samuel Getz in Miami, who has known Abe since she was a little girl, dining at her parents’ place. Getz was CEO of Mayors Jewelry but sold it to a public company and got in the fast-casual eatery business. He does a little of everything and found the graphic designer who created the logo of the Japanese character meaning “tasty.”
Order at the counter, and when your food is ready they will call you to get it. Burrito may mean “little donkey” in Spanish, but the only meats here are antibiotic- and hormone-free pork, chicken and beef. San is an honorific suffix used in Japan when referring to the person one is talking to as a title of respect.
The burrito rolls can be made with brown or white rice. The Saucy tofu roll has ginger braised bean curd with avocado, wonton crisps, carrot shreds and black bean sauce. The Filipino breakfast has pork, scrambled egg, roasted garlic, pickled onions, greens and banana ketchup (tomatoes don’t grow well in the Philippines, so bananas are used with vinegar and chiles). The Mt. Fuji has sashimi-grade tuna, masago, avocado, cucumber pickle, scallions and mango sauce.
There’s also crazy “rice” made from a blend of buckwheat groats, quinoa and cauliflower and used in rolls or with greens as a salad with green-curry-marinated chicken, peanuts, pickled jalapeño and green papaya slaw in ginger-cilantro dressing.
The Buddha belly is vegan with roasted portobello mushroom, eggplant and carrots with garlic miso sauce. The masala chicken roll has spicy chicken, Yukon gold potatoes, cabbage slaw, greens and creamy curry.
Save room for mandarin orange creme brûlée, banana and jackfruit spring rolls with cream cheese in caramel or Thai donuts. It is now easy to eat healthy rolls and have dessert, too.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.