Since she was 13 years old, Gabriella Delgadillo has been working in the kitchen.
Starting out as a dishwasher, Delgadillo worked her way up the ladder, eventually becoming a sushi chef at two local restaurants.
Along the way she crossed paths with a former friend, Jesus Oleta. Like Delgadillo, Oleta was also a sushi chef. Ready to gain the recognition she worked so hard for, she and Oleta began having conversations about starting their own restaurant.
Who would’ve guessed that they’d end up getting married, having a child and opening up their own sushi food truck, Samurai Sombrero, adding a spicy twist to your typical California roll.
Hoping to make their dream a reality, the couple looked into different restaurant options. Eventually, they found a truck, quit their jobs and started working to get the business up and running.
“We quit our jobs and we just started. We're really scared,” Delgadillo said. “We're like, well, what if it doesn't work out? But we said we just got to do it.”
In December 2022, the black food truck with red detailing made its first appearance at food truck park The Pit. Since the couple both had years of experience crafting sushi rolls, they were able to come up with different flavors and ideas that bring some heat to classic dish.
Most importantly, Delgadillo wanted to create something that provided customers with the “perfect bite.”
“I remember when I was a waitress, the customers would say can you bring me some lemon? Can you bring me this? Can you bring me that?” Delgadillo said. “Then I would watch them set up their sushi cups and I asked them, how come you guys put so much of this stuff? They would say, because I feel like I need something and then it'd be the perfect bite. I remember I was like, we need to make a lot of rolls that people don't really even need soy sauce, it already tastes good when you're biting into it.”
Like your typical Japanese restaurant, Samurai Sombrero offers appetizers like gyozas, lo mein and orange chicken. But the real stars of the menu are the sushi rolls.
Cream cheese, spicy mayo, spicy crab, jalapeños and the chef’s special sauce are just a few of the ingredients found in their long list of rolls. They even have vegan rolls so everyone can enjoy.
For example, the Valley Roll is made up of rice, shrimp tempura and cream cheese topped with spicy tuna, masago and jalapeño. The cherry on top: their chef’s special sauce is perfectly drizzled on the roll. You get a crunch with each bite thanks to the shrimp tempura and a nice hint of spice that makes it taste like nothing you have ever had before.
Delgadillo said the rolls at Samurai Sombrero are like a fusion between Japanese and Mexican sushi. While they prepare their rice and other ingredients the Japanese way, the main difference is the flavor, stating that their bold flavors are what set them apart from the rest.
Despite only being open for a little over a year, Samurai Sombrero has developed a dedicated following. Delgadillo said she even has customers from Oro Valley who make the trek to the east side just to indulge in their spicy sushi rolls.
Once, Delgadillo said she got call from someone in Willcox asking if they could come up and park their truck there.
“You get to go to many different places and then you meet so many different people,” Delgadillo said. “I've always been a little bit conservative or to myself, so I never really had a lot of friends. Now I feel like I'm getting to meet so many nice people.”
In the future, Delgadillo hopes to open a brick-and-mortar, allowing people to sit down, relax and enjoy some sushi. For now though, they can be found serving up delicious rolls at 8101 E. 22nd St. Wednesday-Sunday.
“Our goal to make people happy,” Delgadillo said. “I'm really happy because you guys could be going anywhere and you come to try our food.”