I am 100% obsessed with new food trends. Whether it is a new way to eat, an undiscovered spice, or a unique flavor combination, I am all about testing my taste buds and getting creative. Fridays are a day filled with possibility and a dash of adventure, so why not adopt a new food trend into your weekend? This week’s Food Trend Friday is a sushi bake from Hot Box Sushi.
The delicious flavors of rice, a premium imitation crab mix + Japanese seasonings, layered and baked until lightly brown on top and scooped into seaweed sheets and eaten taco-style is relatively new to the US. The exact origins are unclear, but it seems that Hawaii might be the pioneer of this delicious dish, with other sightings popping up in the Philippines and Australia. I hadn’t heard of this trend until I was contacted by Gia Lee, founder of Hot Box Sushi, who asked if I would like to sample the goods. And I am SO glad she reached out!
The Sushi Bake Company
The company is brand new (started in July 2020) and based in Northbrook, about 30 minutes northwest of Chicago. To place an order, you can DM them on Instagram or Facebook, or order through their website. They usually need a day’s notice to put an order together, but some days they sell out (check Facebook for updates). You can pick up your sushi bake order in Northbrook near Dundee and Sanders Rd, and it is a contactless pickup via a cooler- your order will be ready with your name on it. Each order contains:
- Sushi Casserole
- Spicy or Regular
- Small (serves 1-2) or Large (serves 4-6)
- Packages of seaweed sheets
- Approx. 16 sheets for Small
- Approx. 48 sheets for Large
The Sushi Bake Experience
I picked up my order and came home to pop it in the fridge as an appetizer for a small friend gathering I was having that evening. The directions say:
- Remove plastic lid and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- Place 1 seaweed sheet on your palm and top with a big scoop of hotbox.
- Fold like a taco and enjoy!
Good for 3 days in the refrigerator.
I preheated the oven and prepared my seaweed sheets, fanning them out on a circular olive wood tray for serving. I popped the box into the oven and after about 18 minutes, the top turned lightly golden. I added the box to the middle of my serving platter and was ready to roll! They also included these incredible Japanese candies as a treat called Hi-Chew, which I ate all of before my friends came over. Sorry.
The Sushi Bake Taste
I was a bit skeptical that this would have much taste. Traditionally, California Rolls are the most basic, entry-level sushi and are quite bland in my opinion. How could a casserole that contained similar ingredients provide much flavor? Well, I learned I shouldn’t judge a without sampling. It was full of flavor- the crab turned a little creamy, with a slight toasted texture, and paired perfectly with the warm rice and seasoned, roasted seaweed sheets.
My friends agreed; this sushi bake was a crowd-pleaser for sure. The flavors weren’t so overpowering that it would only appeal to certain palates. The crab was mild, the seasonings (seems like Furikake?) was well-balanced. Nori, for me, isn’t a food I would eat plain but combined with the hotbox it was the ideal complement.
How to Serve
This is the beauty of Hot Box Sushi- your guests serve themselves, and it can be served hot or cold. Even if the dish cools down throughout your evening, it will still taste great. I put it in the fridge and ate it for lunch the next day.
I am a big fan and will be ordering this sushi bake for future (socially distanced/family) gatherings or even lunch for myself for SURE. It is a unique food trend that tastes good, satisfies a variety of palates, and is affordable. Place your order today!
Disclosure: I received Hot Box Sushi for review purposes, all opinions are honest and my own. I understand that socializing is a very different thing for many people at this time. I am not advocating non-socially-distant gatherings, nor am I advocating sharing food. Please take precautions- you can plate this individually, cover your food in between serving, etc… Please take the precautions that you feel are necessary.