The entire dining experience can be summed up simply with the word “cool,” from the Top 40 music bumping from the truck, to the friendly confidence exuded from co-owner and UCSD alum, Danny Jeon. The truck itself, while claiming to channel the ninja-essence, is anything but nondescript, boasting a huge cartoon ninja on the side of the otherwise sleek black vehicle, with their motto of serving “sushi with attitude” printed above the ordering window.
The eclectic menu has many appetizing options, including convenient and popular hand rolls (ideal for an inexpensive grab-and-go lunch) and more inventive specialty cut-rolls, which offer a variety of winning flavor combinations. Plus, with chuckle-worthy names like the “Afro Ninja” and the “Skittles Roll,” placing an order is worth it just for the chance to say, “I’d like a Jessica Albacore, please.”
Not that the rolls are all gimmick. The truck’s chef, Jin Kin, has managed to maintain a standard of presentation, with every roll crafted surprisingly delicately. He also works fast and, most importantly, keeps the rolls neat and tidy to avoid the fall-apart factor — the Achilles’ Heel of many other sushi artists.
The Sake Bomb ($7), one of their specialty rolls, is a standout. Filled with crab, daikon sprouts, cucumber and avocado and topped with seared salmon, red onion, bonito flakes and a delicate touch of basil mayonnaise, it’s impressively flavorful yet not overpowering, with a unique hint of smokiness to the salmon that adds extra depth to the already inventive bite.
The Crispy Albacore Roll ($7), is another hit, stuffed with crab and shrimp tempura, topped with fresh albacore tuna and avocado and then garnished with crispy onion strips and garlic chips under a drizzling of ponzu sauce. The balance of textures is nice, though the flavors (notably, the shrimp) get lost in the mixture, lacking presence in the overall taste of the dish.
The Afro-Ninja Roll ($7) wins the prize for the most heart-throbbing dish of the truck — a spicy concoction of tuna, crab and jalapeno, offset by the creamy avocado and cream cheese, then deep-fried and smothered in spicy mayo and eel sauce.
Admittedly, deep-fried rolls from the back of a truck may sound ludicrous to sushi traditionalists, but SD Sushi Ninjas are certainly worth a Twitter follow. Look out for them on the streets; it’s a tasty curbside meal.