Advertised only by a street placard and word of mouth, Burrito Sensei on Bank Street has been open for a little over a month and just recently expanded to include dinner hours. It’s the latest contender on the growing sushi burrito/poke bowl scene in Ottawa, and though the restaurant is still in its soft launch stage, it already has the potential to become my favourite of the bunch.
For now, offerings consist of a set menu of burritos and bowls with tuna, salmon, chicken, pork, tofu, or yam; the option to customize your own burrito or bowl; and a small selection of appetizers including takoyaki and sweet potato croquettes. More ambitious plans hover on the horizon; to my delight, I was told that the restaurant has plans to expand into a proper izakaya (Japanese gastropub) in the coming months. For that, the interior of the establishment already has the right atmosphere: spacious and warmly lit, with hewn wooden surfaces and natural paneling accented by elegant slats of calligraphy (done by the chef and his wife) and a strikingly minimalist canvas behind the bar (painted by the owner himself).
Service was very friendly and cognizant of first-time diners. Customers are provided with a checkbox order sheet upon entry, and the menu lists a helpful glossary of ingredients. I ordered the “one punch salmon” bowl which came with toppings that put a fusion twist on traditional poke, perfectly seasoned rice, and a bomb tangy yuzu dressing. Halfway through, I was already thinking of excuses to come back.