Yum Sushi Burrito & Poke opened for business Nov. 19 on West State of Franklin Road. Their cuisine is “Poke,” (pronounced “Poh-Kay”). Poke originates in Hawaii and is their way to enjoy sushi. Your Poke meal can be in a bowl, like “chirashi” style sushi, or added to a salad, Hawaiian style with more vegetables, fruits and different kinds of rice. The “burrito” part of their name refers to having your Poke rolled up in a whole nori wrapper of dried seaweed paper, then sliced in half as a fist-filling “burrito.” From the rave comments you readers sent me, my dining partner and I were keen to try out Yum Sushi Burrito at our first opportunity.
Yum Sushi Burrito is located four store fronts along from Earth Fare. The interior is quite cozy. The dark walls are well-graffiti-ed in support of nearby East Tennessee State University. Opposite the open-plan kitchen is a dining area with a long bench fronted by 10 or so small tables. There are an additional eight “lunch counter” style seats at the front window with an unobstructed view of the passing scene on West State of Franklin just beyond. Rest rooms (clean and tidy), are found at the back.
When my dining partner and I arrived at Yum Sushi Burrito around 5:40 p.m. there were only two other diners present. I quickly found us a table strategically situated across from Yum Sushi Burrito’s wall-mounted menu display.
As my dining partner was studying the build-a-bowl menu, I checked out the appetizer menu. I then asked one of the meal builders, Elizabeth by name, to fry up an eight-piece order of shrimp shumai ($5) and a two-piece order of egg rolls ($3) for me to share with my dining partner. Elizabeth did so, and I was very pleased with the result. Each plump, shrimp-filled shumai dumpling and veggie-filled egg roll was fried to perfection, crispy on the outside and moist, steamy and flavorful on the inside. I also had Elizabeth provide us with a sample palette of their dipping sauces for us to have fun with. With the sauces ranging from sweet shoyu to sweet gochujang, spicy pineapple chili, savory unagi (eel) sauce and eye-wateringly hot and garlicky wasabi aioli, my dining partner and I had fun and then some.
Big Wave: Poke Bowl: My dining partner engaged Noah, one of the meal builders at the front counter. Ordering Hawaiian-style from Yum Sushi Burrito is very simple. You can either order your Poke ready-made from their signature menu, or you can BYOB as in “Build-your-own-bowl/burrito.” For the latter, you first choose your Poke meal’s presentation: in a bowl, as a salad or as a burrito with either white or brown rice as the base. Next, you can choose two of your meal’s protein sources from a menu of 14 possible choices such as raw yellowfin tuna or salmon, cooked tempura shrimp, crab stick, boiled shrimp, boiled scallops and grilled chicken or steak. There’s even grilled tofu for those of a vegetarian bent. Next are the veggie ingredients, 20 or so, from purple cabbage to edamame to fresh pineapple. Dressings are next, with toppings to follow.
After a discussion with Noah, my dining partner ordered one of Yum Sushi Burrito’s signature bowls, the “Big Wave” ($11.50). Proteins here were grilled chicken, grilled steak and tempura shrimp, matched with purple cabbage, julienned carrot, sliced cherry tomatoes and topped with pineapple chili salsa. I had a forkful and was very pleased with the way the flavors and textures complimented each other, its crunchy fresh-cut cabbage and carrot matching that of the tempura shrimp, the pineapple chili salsa adding just the right level of acidic tang to the whole.
Hawaiian Classic — Sushi Burrito: For my own Poke meal, I chose the Hawaiian Classic burrito ($12.85) that combined steamed shrimp and steamed scallops with shredded back fin crabmeat, romaine lettuce, cilantro, red onion, kale, sliced cherry tomatoes, dressed with tangy eel sauce and topped with crunchy tempura crumbles. From its very precise cross-section slice through its wrapper’s newspaper look, my Hawaiian Classic burrito was truly “Classic” from start to finish.
The bottom line: Yum Sushi Burrito is a welcome addition to Johnson City’s restaurant scene. Their “Sushi Hawaiian-style” menu has something for everyone’s taste and appetite. The service provided by staff members like Noah and Elizabeth is both friendly and professional. The restaurant itself is functional and very cozy. This will most definitely attract (and make happy) an eclectic clientele. By the time my dining partner and I got up to leave some 45 minutes later, Yum Sushi Burrito’s work staff was busy serving hungry diners, and a line was beginning to form at the order counter.
Why not stop by and see for yourself?
Yum Sushi Burrito & Poke
1735 West State of Franklin Road
Daily 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Available on Facebook & at
Credit cards accepted