Of all the food trends to expand in Orange County in the past 12 months, Mexican sushi might be the most polarizing.
Defined by cheesy deep-fried rice rolls of carne asada, chicken, shrimp and more that are then covered in either sweet ponzu, spicy mayo or both, the part-fusion, part-bastardization is what happens when a Japanese culinary tradition founded on subtlety gets dropped into the raucous late-night mariscos restaurants of Sinaloa.
At the new Palapas Marisqueria & Sushi on Tustin Street in Orange, Mexican sushi is technically an afterthought to the restaurant's ceviches, aguachiles, hot waitresses and live banda music.
Yet, its Palapas Roll embodies all that is holy about the style: beef, chicken, shrimp, crab, cream cheese and two kinds of chiles are rolled in nori and rice then deep fried and covered with ponzo and chipotle aoli.
The usual Japanese condiments – ginger, wasabi, soy sauce – are not needed here. Just order a michelada instead.
Palapas Marisqueria & Sushi is at 331 N. Tustin St., Orange. For more information, call (714) 633-1337.
SARAH BENNETT is a freelance journalist covering food, drink, music, culture and more. She is the former food editor at L.A. Weekly and a founding editor of Beer Paper L.A. Follow her on Twitter @thesarahbennett.