Nick's Picks: Stingray Sushifusion food truck opens brick and mortar restaurant
One of Rochester’s most popular food trucks now has a brick and mortar location. Rather than stalking the truck’s whereabouts during lunch hour in midtown or tracking it down during a festival, fans of Stingray Sushifusion can now head to 1921 South Avenue for Japanese-Latin cuisine.
Though the truck will remain open, Radhames (Rod) Veras, who owns Stingray Sushifusion with his father, Jose, views a permanent site as a way to consistently serve the community.
“I've been running the truck for six years and every year I close between December and April,” says Rod. “A lot of my customers don’t like taking that four-month break, so I wanted to be more accessible and open year round.”
Officially named Kocina Stingray Sushifusion 2 Go, the restaurant’s menu is rife with novel creations that merge the Verases’ Dominican heritage and Rod’s passion for traditional sushi, which he developed as a chef at California Rollin’. Of Kocina’s nine sushi rolls, three use Spanish rice, including the Merengue Roll, which also employs beer battered shrimp, avocado, sweet plantain, and a sweet and spicy sauce. The bowl and plate options, which Rod refers to as deconstructed sushi, also combine Latin and Asian flavors. Kocina’s famous Thrasher Plate, which is responsible for a sizable portion of the original truck’s prosperity, is a wonderful mess of sushi rice, beer battered shrimp, grilled steak, bacon, cucumber, tomatoes, scallion, sweet bell peppers, fried garlic, onion crunches, ponzu, ginger mayo, and Sriracha.
While the word “fusion” can sometimes be considered a dirty descriptor in the culinary world, the Verases embrace the title.
“We have tried to be very truthful to the idea that by merging the best of two cuisines, you end up with a third one that is very special.” says Jose.
Fusion doesn’t just describe Kocina’s cuisine—it describes the restaurant’s very ethos. Jose and Rod bring together their passions and goals within this 1921 South Ave space.
“I love food, I love to cook, and I always had a secret fantasy of having a restaurant like this,” says Jose. “I spent twenty-nine years as a teacher in the city school district, so when Rod started to shape his career in this way, I wanted us to put something together. He has done what I always wanted to do myself.”
Rod is responsible for the kitchen and skilfully putting together orders, while Jose works the front of the house, which is beautifully decorated with minimalist design and gorgeous paintings done by Jose himself. The two rely on each other for balance within the restaurant and for the innovative ideas that make the Stingray Sushifusion brand successful.
“My father knows knows me in and out and we trust each other 100 percent,” says Rod. “He has a million good ideas; I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
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