Royal Oak’s Yuzu Sushi Co. offers something different in fast-casual
By Mary Meldrum
Yuzu Sushi Co. in Royal Oak is Michigan’s first sushi burrito and poke concept restaurant. The restaurant marked its one-year anniversary last month. Owner and chef Mario Gojcaj says he is looking for a second location to expand.
“It is a concentrated menu,” he says. “Everything is fresh and made daily. We strive to bring our customers the freshest and best-quality ingredients while making our fast-casual restaurant an affordable alternative to expensive sit-down sushi restaurants.”
The sushi burrito and poke bowl concept was first inspired by California restaurants in 2012. More than 200 restaurants in California now serve sushi burritos and poke bowls. This type of menu is everywhere now — in the Middle East, France and New York.
Yuzu Sushi Co. is 100 percent Mario’s creation. “All this artwork has been designed by me. The menu, the signage, the logo, the name; literally, I have done every single thing,” he says.
The name Yuzu comes from a citrus fruit imported from Japan that is used in the signature sauce. The place is clean, fresh and new. It looks like a franchise operation, but the food is a dead giveaway that this is not your typical fast food. It is well thought out with quality ingredients put together to suit each guest’s taste. The menu is tight, but diverse, with offerings like the Lox Roll with smoked salmon and cream cheese, chicken satay or unagi with BBQ eel.
I asked about poke, which is new to me. Poke is raw cubed tuna tossed with sauce and onions and put over a bed of rice. “Poke is a very traditional dish in Hawaii. It is like bread and butter there,” Mario says. “Everywhere you go in Hawaii, everybody serves it.”
The sushi burritos are the same as the rolls you are familiar with except they are about 12 ounces, cut in half and eaten by hand, like a burrito. This is a great “hand-held” option to satisfy your sushi craving when you are on the go.
Rice bowls are another fresh option; they include the same ingredients as the large rolls only in a bowl. Yuzu Sushi also specializes in several different styles of poke bowls. You choose your protein and customize it, and Mario puts that on of a bed of romaine lettuce, adds a serving of rice, and garnishes of thinly sliced radish and pickled ginger. The sushi burritos, rice bowls and poke are all made to order.
I tasted the Hawaiian poke bowl with a sampling of raw tuna and salmon and steamed shrimp, and I was surprised by the big taste and satisfied by the portion.
Mario was born and raised in Michigan, but went to culinary school in Manhattan. He has been the sous chef for some of the best chefs in the world, and all his experience is in fine dining.
He eventually moved back to Michigan and worked in high-end restaurants in Birmingham, Rochester and Grosse Pointe before opening Yuzu Sushi Co.
Do you have a food allergy? Mario happens to be somewhat of an expert in creating dishes for people with food allergies. Come in and talk with him about your specifications; he is almost always there.
“I think any restaurant requires a ton of devotion,” Mario says.
Yuzu Sushi Co. offers dine-in, carry-out and catering options for customers and can be available for off-site events with timely notification.
An ongoing special at Yuzu Sushi is “Miso Monday,” which has become quite popular with its $1 miso soup. Located just south of 14 Mile Road on Woodward Avenue, this is a great place to stop in and get a sushi fix — or a poke fix as well. NS
Yuzu Sushi Co.
32832 Woodward Ave.