“Narruto” – with this one word, two continents, and three meanings have come together to inspire a Latin American and Asian fast-casual kosher restaurant. “Narruto” has Japanese origins, which can mean a whirlpool, an earthenware cooking vessel, or a famous anime character. Based in Teaneck, New Jersey, Narruto Bowl is the brainchild of Joshua Massin, the executive chef and owner of Nobo Wine and Grill. Narruto’s menu aims at combining soul and food into a wholesome experience. Even though it’s considered to be street-food for the Western world, it actually embodies traditional tastes found in foreign places. Massin expresses, “I think calling it street food is almost an anglicization of the experience…we made the name [Narruto] as idiosyncratic as the concept is.”
Some critics might say it’s inauthentic for their reviews because of its nature catering to a kosher eating market, but Massin, embracing it, claims, “The food has a lot of integrity but it’s my style of cooking and it’s made in Teaneck, NJ. It’s not made in these far-flung places and there is no shame in that game.” He has picked up his culinary skills through formal schooling as well as off the record recipes; this is something you’re only exposed to through family gatherings and small talk with your friend’s grandma. Massin studied at Johnson & Wales University and was trained by an old guard of chefs, who were in the military for food services. Over the last 15 years, it has transformed from a fun trade to a profiting profession. He learned to cook classical French, regional American, and miscellaneous domestic/foreign foods too.
“The learning never stops,” for Massin, for whom interacting with an eclectic array of chefs, neighbors, and people’s moms throughout the years led to his diverse tastes. As a kid in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Massin did not grow up keeping kosher. He was surrounded primarily by people with Japanese and Korean heritage. This has given him great insight into the lives and diets of these cultures and found creative ways to incorporate them into the menu using only fresh, kosher ingredients. “We found clever ways of making it kind of user-customizable” despite it being tricky to build an exotic menu for a classic Jewish consumer, who may be picky too. Still, foodies are applauding the work so far and word of mouth is attracting a more classic kosher consumer.
Narruto Bowl’s concept places volume over price point so there is less interfacing with customers. At times, they have received phone calls from people asking how to go about eating their order where they get solids in one container and liquid in another. The confusion doesn’t usually come from a place of hesitation to learn, but testifies to being isolated from these far-out cultures. Massin says, “Asia and Latin America have enough diversity of food and culture really to go on forever,” which gives the team a wide basis of creativity. There is always a new dish to experiment with and offer to the public.
There is a small percentage of people who may dislike or question his creativity and personal style. There is a popular phrase, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” that equally applies to our taste buds and food. Narruto makes everything from scratch including their sauces, which has some substituted elements due to kashrut. They offer various proteins and less exotic vegetables in order to make the price lower and more affordable for everyone. A major favorite amongst kids and adults are the gluten-free chicken fingers made especially for the kids’ menu. Soon, they will be featuring more Caribbean foods as well. “Through research and through buying things and cooking and trying and refining,” Massin explains, his culinary adventure led to the opening of Narruto Bowl and will continue to expand it.
Find them at www.narrutobowl.com to place an order through their online ordering system or to contact them with any questions or comments. They are active on Instagram and Facebook for all other users who want to learn more.