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, a new Highway 280 location and more to come, there are more ways than ever to get your sushi burrito fix.
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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
5. New Highway 280 Location and More
Following the Avondale location’s opening at 4120 3rd Ave. S. four years ago, Wasabi Juan’s popularity grew quickly and more locations followed.
- Wasabi Juan’s celebrated the grand opening of its location at 5037 Hwy 280 Birmingham, Alabama 35242, in fall 2018. (To get to the Highway 280 Wasabi Juan’s, enter Inverness Heights Market via Cahaba Beach Road, or use the entrance off 280 a little further east.)
- A location at The Battery is on the horizon.
So you heard it here, Inverness and Cahaba Heights. Now 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.