5 reasons I love Wasabi Juan’s in Birmingham, including a new food truck, a Highway 280 grand opening and the buzzworthy 4:20 Nachos

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Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's
Wasabi Juan’s. Photo submitted

If your inner child met your adult self, they would share a plate of 4:20 Nachos at Wasabi Juan’s. The dish combines the nostalgic crunch of Doritos with an umami burst of raw tuna, sweet unagi sauce, spicy mayo and cool avocado. It’s a seemingly impossible combination that just works, which sums up everything I love about this locally owned Birmingham restaurant. With a new food truck and a Highway 280 location opening soon, there are more ways than ever to get your sushi burrito fix.

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan’s food truck, @wasabijuantogo
Where in the world is the Wasabi Juan’s food truck? Find out on Instagram at @wasabijuantogo, and keep your eyes peeled for the supercute neon green paint job. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
1. Food Truck

Wasabi Juan’s first went mobile for Serve Day at Linn Park on July 14 and began serving the sushi burrito-loving public on Aug. 3. It offers a rotating menu of restaurant favorites and specials.

Hey, Barons fan: the Wasabi Juan’s food truck will roll into downtown Birmingham for the ballgame on Saturday, Aug. 25. Batter up!

Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan's
4:20 Nachos, sushi burrito and Mexican Coke. Photo submitted

So far the food truck has visited Inverness Heights Market (the site of a soon-to-open brick and mortar off Highway 280) as well as the downtown and Stockton areas of Trussville. It’s fitting Trussville is getting some Wasabi Juan’s food truck love because it’s where founders Luis and Barby Toro have lived ever since they moved from Miami to Alabama 10 years ago.

Sushi burrito [sü-shē bə-rē-tō] noun: any variety of delicious filling, rolled in a sushi-like manner with sticky rice and a paper-thin soy or nori wrap, that is served burrito-style and eaten by hand.

2. Sushi With Attitude

The sushi-Mexican fusion at Wasabi Juan’s verges on global, with Hawaiian, Korean and Thai flavors alongside American favorites from California to the Southeast. The unifying feature: it’s all fresh and delicious.

Poke and Sticky Rice, a starter featuring Hawaiian-style tuna, is Barby Toro’s favorite. Photo submitted

Jessica Toro Hardisson, the Toros’ daughter, graduated from the Hewitt-Trussville Hospitality and Culinary Arts Academy. She loves being in the kitchen and developing new recipes that keep Wasabi Juan’s fans coming back for more.

“I like figuring out what shouldn’t work together but does. We piggy back off each other’s ideas. We try it like this, and if it doesn’t work, what about this.”

Jessica Toro Hardisson
Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan’s food truck, @wasabijuantogo
Steak lovers crave the Cowboy sushi burrito at Wasabi Juan’s. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
3. Everybody’s Happy
  • Love sushi? Well, your sushi world just opened up, big time.
  • Don’t do raw? Cooked options abound.
  • Gotta have the meat? Try the Cowboy or Toro (steak) or the Blazer (chicken).
  • Vegetarian? The Hippy is your friend.
  • Gluten free? Look for “GF” menu options.
  • Keto diet? Ask ‘em to roll your sushi burrito with cabbage instead of rice.

The hands-down customer favorite at Wasabi Juan’s is the L.H.M. (Lord Have Mercy) with spicy tuna, shrimp, cream cheese, spicy mayo, unagi sauce and avocado.

“People try the L.H.M., and they’ll come back two or three times the same week to eat it again.”

Luis Toro
Birmingham, Alabama, Wasabi Juan’s, Luis and Barby Toro. Photo submitted
Luis and Barby Toro. Photo submitted
4. A Family Affair

When the Toros moved to the Birmingham area from Miami, eating their favorite food (sushi, of course) was their way of getting to know the city.

“It was a date night food that Barby and I liked. We would go around Birmingham looking for places to eat sushi.”

Luis Toro
Birmingham, Alabama, Jessica Toro Hardisson, Maximo Pinon, Highway 280 Wasabi Juan’s
Jessica Toro Hardisson and her grandfather Maximo Pinon outside the Highway 280 Wasabi Juan’s during construction. Photo by Terri Robertson for Bham Now

In 2014, the Toros look a leap of faith and opened Wasabi Juan’s, serving sushi just the way they like it in the heart of Avondale. Soon the whole family was involved, including Jessica, her husband, Gabriel Hardisson, and Barby’s father, Maximo Pinon.

The butcher-block tables in Wasabi Juan’s restaurants are hand-built by Jessica and her grandfather in the family’s Trussville home garage. 

Birmingham, Alabama, Highway 280 Wasabi Juan’s
To get to the Highway 280 Wasabi Juan’s, enter Inverness Heights Market via Cahaba Beach Road, or use the entrance a little further west. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
5. Highway 280 Location Opening Soon

Following the Avondale location’s opening at 4120 3rd Ave. South four years ago, Wasabi Juan’s popularity grew quickly and more locations followed.

  • A Hoover location opened at 3732 Lorna Road in May 2017.
  • A location at The Battery is on the horizon.
  • The grand opening of Wasabi Juan’s at Inverness Heights Market off Highway 280 will happen any day now! Follow @wasabijuans280 on Facebook for the big announcement.

So you heard it here, Inverness and Cahaba Heights. Soon you can visit Wasabi Juan’s in your neck of the woods. Enjoy the restaurant’s happy beach vibes, Mexican sodas from the cooler and, most importantly, delicious sushi like you’ve never had it before.

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