Not all edible cylinders are burritos.
It’s been a long time since Starbucks was strictly a place to go for coffee. The chain is constantly rolling out new non-coffee beverages and food items, and you really can’t blame them, since just about everything they try their hand at turns out delicious.
Starbucks has even shown itself adroit in incorporating Japanese flairs into its creations, such as with the SoraNews24-approved Sakura Blossom Cream Frappuccino and matcha scones. So in some ways Starbucks U.S.A.’s newest lunch option, which makes use of some Japanese culinary ingredients and techniques, isn’t such a leap of logic. Its description, though, is a bit of a head-scratcher.
The new item is available exclusively at select Chicago branches of the coffeehouse chain. Described as “a classic California chicken burrito with a twist,” it looks like this.
Many would say that in order to consider something a burrito, it has to be wrapped in a tortilla, a criteria Starbucks’ new item doesn’t meet. But then again, we sometimes call things without bread on the outside “sandwiches,” provided there’s no better term to describe them.
However, that picture clearly shows a sushi roll, with white rice surrounding a variety of fillings, and the whole thing wrapped in seaweed. And before anyone points out that something isn’t technically “sushi” unless it has vinegared rice, mention of that specific ingredient is indeed included in Starbucks’ official description of the item.
Chicken Maki Roll: A classic California chicken burrito with a twist – the chicken maki roll is rolled in sushi rice and wrapped with nori. The roll is filled with slow cooked, shredded chicken, fire roasted tomatillo salsa, lime crema, fresh cucumber and pickled cabbage with onions, avocado and crispy onion.
It’s even called the Chicken Maki Roll, maki being the Japanese word for “roll.” Even more puzzling is that Starbucks tosses “nori” in there with no extra explanation, apparently confident that its customers are already familiar with the Japanese word for “seaweed,” but apparently thinks they won’t recognize sushi when they see it.
In Starbucks’ defense, several of the Chicken Maki Roll’s ingredients, such as chicken, salsa, and pickled cabbage, are things you’ll never find in authentic Japanese sushi. But then again, vinegared rice and seaweed aren’t traditional burrito components either.
Calling the Chicken Maki Roll (which is classified as a “sandwich” in the company’s press release) a “burrito with a twist” is sort of like calling pizza a grilled cheese sandwich with a twist. Of course, unless you’re the sort of person who spends a lot of mental energy thinking about Japanese linguistics, Starbucks marketing is unlikely to impact how your taste buds receive the Chicken Maki Roll, but with both sushi and burritos having achieved so much mainstream popularity in the U.S., the chain’s choice of words is pretty strange.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where even as a Los Angeles native he’s not sure what a “California chicken burrito” is supposed to be.
[ Read in Japanese ]