by Ian Froeb
The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
Eliott Harris departed his lauded sushi-chef gig at (now shuttered) Miso on Meramec to launch what might have seemed like the unlikeliest of food-truck concepts: the sushi-slinging Chop Shop (@chopshopstl). Even the Chop Shop team acknowledges the improbable appeal of mobile sushi, tagging many tweets with the mock-incredulous "Sushi from a truck? What the...[rhymes with truck]?"
No, sushi might not be the first cuisine that comes to mind when you think of food trucks, but Chop Shop has proven not only that it works, but that it works very, very well.
Specifically, Chop Shop slings "big fat sushi rolls." (A San Francisco operation calls a similar product Sushirittos, which is awesome, which is probably why the aforementioned San Francisco operation trademarked the term.) Instead of slicing these overstuffed rolls into small, bite-size pieces, Harris cuts them in half through the middle, the better to be held and eaten like a burrito or a wrap, with the seaweed sheet taking the place of the tortilla.
The "El Camino" is the best representation of Chop Shop's approach: spicy albacore tuna, crisp cucumber and chunks of ripe avocado, kaiware (daikon radish) sprouts, yamagobo (a pickled root) and -- the grace note that elevates the El beyond merely big and fat -- a touch of a lovely garlic-ginger ponzu.
As with all of Chop Shop's rolls, the "El Camino" is served nestled atop a serving of wasabi popcorn, which makes for a delicious and spicy cushion.
Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!
The Gut Check One Hundred 2013 (So Far)
- Quincy Street Bistro's BLT - Home Wine Kitchen's Fried Chicken - Riverbend Restaurant & Bar's Red Beans and Rice - Fork & Stix's Sai Oua with Naam Prik Nuum - Gobble Stop Smokehouse's Turkey Tips - Seoul Taco's Burrito - Five Star Burger's Green Chile Cheeseburger - Olio's Octopus Salad - Dressel's Porchetta "Louie"
- Cleveland- Heath's Seared Beef Tongue - Cleveland-Heath's Cauliflower Soup - Pastaria's Italian Ramen - Pi Pizzeria's "Grove" Pizza - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup (Novice) or Yu Shan Pork (Advanced) - La Tejana Taqueria's Goat Soup - Hendricks BBQ's Ribs - Sauce on the Side's "Costanza" Calzone - Siete Luminarias' Guanajuato-Style Carnitas - Fork & Stix's Khao Soi