A pork belly hand roll at Muiishi Makirritos.

Macaroni-and-cheese-stuffed egg rolls were the first thing that ever attracted me to Muiishi Makirritos when it made its debut on Houston streets in December 2012. But it was ultimately the hand rolls—big, monstrous things full of fun, fresh ingredients for only $8 each—that I came away most impressed with.

Muiishi Makirritos Pig Roast
Aug 3, 6 p.m.
Liberty Station
2101 Washington Ave.

There's no shortage of food trucks in Houston serving junk food stuffed inside of other junk food (not that I'm complaining), but it's rare to find a truck serving Japanese hand rolls. This is thanks to head truck chef Matt Mui, who was a sous chef at Soma Sushi when he started the truck.

Mui and his truck are still going strong in the heat of the summer—yesterday afternoon, they set up shop outside the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The tree-shaded Cullen Sculpture Garden directly adjacent is normally one of the best spots in the city to enjoy an al fresco lunch, but the face-melting July heat led me to eat my pork-stravaganza inside the air conditioned environs of my car instead.

I hadn't sought out Muiishi Makirritos in a few months, but was pleased to find my favorite hand roll from that initial visit was still on the menu: the Kakuni, stuffed full of sous vide pork belly, a mixture of fried shiitake and oyster mushrooms, and kimchi—all of it laced with spicy Korean gochujang sauce. I threw in an order of Pork Bunz (your run-of-the-mill Chinese bao filled with more tender pork belly) and a Pork Belly Don Juan (good ol' Korean bibimbap topped with a poached egg).

As with so many modern menus in Houston, Muiishi Makirritos's dishes don't limit themselves to just one cuisine, eagerly blending together Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Southern flavors into such creations as the Bacon Jammin' Biscuits that stack chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and bourbon bacon jam atop Cheddar cheese biscuits, or the Mac & Cheese Egg Rolls that pack Redneck Cheddar, smoked Gouda, applewood bacon, and ground beef into a crispy wrapper.

The one thing that most dishes at Muiishi Makirritos have in common? Pork. And Matt Mui knows his way around a pork belly, perfectly rendering the fat into a creamy layer of piggy butter that melts into the streaky flesh on either side before slipping it on top of a rice bowl or into a nori paper-wrapped roll. I ordered three pork belly-based dishes at lunch—something I didn't realize until later—but wasn't overwhelmed by any of them. My pork belly bonanza was instead tempered by the unique flavors of all three, a tribute to Mui's talent.

You can see Mui's skill with a pig up close and personal this weekend, when Muiishi Makirritos hosts a pig roast this Saturday, August 3, at Liberty Station. Starting at 6 p.m. and carrying on until the hungry hoardes have stripped the pig down to its bones, the pig roast will also feature a special cask of Saint Arnold on tap inside and—as is the norm at Liberty Station—plenty of other terrific local brews to wash it all down. 

 

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