You know what words I never thought I’d hear together? Sushi Burrito. Okay, that’s a little bit of a lie. I’m pretty sure I’ve said things like “I love sushi and burritos” or “Living off of sushi and burritos is my life goal,” but I definitely never anticipated hearing of one whole sushi burrito. So, like many other people in Philly, I lined up in a ridiculously long line to feel like the people I normally judge harshly and get my free sushi burrito from Hai Street Kitchen yesterday.
Normally, I hate waiting in huge food lines, mostly because the food isn’t worth it, but I’m glad that I decided to spend my Wednesday morning waiting for Hai Street food solely for the number of great one liners I heard from people walking around. From passerby, I heard everything from “Did the new iPhone 6 come out?” to “What? Are they giving out the stuff for free?” The business men and women who clearly had 9 to 5 jobs that didn’t involve an open two hours for lunch were flabbergasted as they walked by, but they were not the only amusing part of the day.
The all too energetic manager was walking around screaming “Are you ready to get Hai?!?!,” which was both to be expected and a little bit funny. Also, Sabra totally decided to troll the opening and Sabra girls were walking around with free hummus and salsa samples for the people lined up from Hai Street’s door on 18th and Ranstead to well past The Continental. The best part was when Sabra ran out of spoons and was just handing out huge samples that could only be eaten with your hands or a flexible tongue. It was the trolling fail of all trolling fails.
After waiting about an hour, I finally got close to the door and one of Hai’s employees came out to start handing out free boxed water and snap peas. The whole boxed water thing confused me though. Apparently, it is a more eco-friendly way to drink bottled water, which is nice, but since it’s still killing trees. Wouldn’t it just be better to do away with the whole one-shot water bottle thing and have people just invest in reusable water bottles? Even if the idea of ‘eco-friendly’ bottled water makes me chuckle a bit, I appreciated it.
Eventually, I managed to get into Hai Street and was quickly helped by a cheery redhead who seemed surprisingly unflustered by the crowd. In order to keep the line moving, many of the employees were encouraging people to pick on of their ‘signature’ rolls, but on a regular day, which probably won’t include lines all the way up to 19th street, you can go through the whole process and pick your own protein and toppings. The signature roll I ended up salivating over was the Mexicana with brown rice, which the redhead started me on before passing me off to a blonde who did the one thing I was dreading the entire time I was in line: she put romaine lettuce on my roll when it called for spring mix.
I don’t know when my hatred of romaine began, but for as long as I can remember, romaine and I have not been BFFs. I see one hundred and fifty shades of red when I encounter romaine, and I can’t imagine that changing anytime soon. Whenever I see romaine on a menu, I get irrationally angry that anyone would even bother with this flavorless lettuce over great options like arugula, endive, and spring mix. Romaine is the herpes of the salad world. After the rant that I just went on, it’s probably needless to describe the huge cringe on my face as the blonde went for the romaine over the spring mix, but given the fact that I’m generally a pleasant person and my food was free, I didn’t say a thing and silently mourned the loss of my roll.
The rest of my actual experience in Hai Street flew by, but once I got to my internship, I opened this powerful sushi-burrito duo and embarked on my Hai experience. The Mexicana roll that I ordered featured tender grilled pork belly with a little bit of a Mexican kick to it, garlicy tomatillo sauce, fresh green papaya salad, sweet sautéed onions, and the unfortunate romaine. The roll’s flavors were on point and sprang to life on the tongue; though, at $7.99 a pop, I’m not sure if Hai Street would be worth it if it wasn’t free. Like most other sushi rolls, I wasn’t filled up after one. Considering it’s not just sushi, but a sushi burrito, I would feel awkward getting two, but it would be necessary if I came back. I’ll probably stop by Hai Street again to check out some of their other rolls, but I don’t think this will be becoming my number one spot anytime soon. If you didn’t go to the free roll day, you’re smarter than me and you probably have a job, too, but once all the hullabaloo over Hai Street dies down a bit, it might be a place worth checking out once or twice.