An ocean and more between the two, yet somehow deliciously melded together in the food realm, Mexico and Japan are a winning combination for sushi. It’s not hard to find the Mexican-Asian infusion on sushi menus all across San Antonio. Just visit any one of the four Sushi Zushi restaurants spread out from downtown to Stone Oak. The combo goes something like this: Melted Monterrey jack cheese on the outside, breaded crab and avocado rolled with chives, chipotle sauce, and serrano pepper on the inside.
Mexican and Asian cooking share many of the same flavors and ingredients — cilantro, chilies, and avocado, to name three — just combined in different ways. Yokonyu’s chef and owners are from Mexico City and have mastered the art of blending sweet, spicy, and sour flavors to fashion Japanese cuisine with a Mexican twist. Chipotle-mayo, a spicy Latin-flavored condiment, tops many of their sushi rolls.
“Mexico is huge in Japanese cooking. All of the really complicated rolls with Mexican-Japanese infusion started in Mexico City and all the rolls with cheese — except cream cheese — are from Mexico,” says Yokonyu owner Jesús Hernandez. “At Yokonyu, we like trying to create new items and match flavors from food we like from other restaurants. For instance, if I go to a Mexican restaurant and loved their refried beans, I come back to my restaurant and ask my chefs to incorporate the beans into a roll.”
Examples of the bicultural magic Hernandez mentioned include fajita steak, cilantro, bell pepper, and grilled onions rolled together, with refried beans and melted manchego cheese on the outside; and sea bass in miso sauce, with cilantro, tequila, and Serrano pepper. “This makes it very Mexican,” says Hernandez. Yokonyu’s chef also uses tart tamarind to add a jolt of Mexican flavor to some of the dishes.
Yokonyu’s San Antonio Roll is a delicious example of cross-cultural sushi amalgamation: Mongolian beef, shrimp, avocado, and manchego cheese with a breaded finish, topped with the infamous spicy chipotle-mayo sauce. It’s no brain-buster why sushi menu items daring to take our city’s name would be touched with Mexican flavor. Clever restaurateurs know how to stay afloat in San Antonio: Give us a little familiar love and we’ll keep coming back.