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Published May 26th 2019
Burgers and sushi: Happy marriage or inevitable divorce?
A "Sushi Burger" sounds exactly like the state of the culinary world in 2019. To paraphrase the infamous words of Taylor Swift, a trend like this one is generally bound to "be forever" or unceremoniously "go down in flames."
In keeping with this, one could expect the Sushi Burgers at Gojima to either be a glorious blend of two immensely popular fast foods, or a franken-creation specifically engineered for virality on Instagram.
The reality falls somewhere in between.
Helmed by legendary chef Chase Kojima of Sokyo fame, you wouldn't be wrong to have high expectations walking into his newest experiment. Located in the recently established 1909 Precinct of Market City, Gojima is a worthy addition to the mecca of impressive Asian-fusion eateries, though it does stand out as the most casual dining option there.
We were immediately impressed by the decor of the eatery, with its shiny neon lights and modern food packaging. It could best be described as McDonald's meets the inside of a spaceship.
After perusing the comprehensive menu, which featured sushi burgers with beef, mushroom and sustainable seafood fillings, we eventually opted for the fried chicken Sushi Burger (because... fried chicken).
This impressive spread of Sushi Burgers and fries.
We received our burgers and fries within 10 minutes of ordering, an impressive feat considering the joint was brimming with eager patrons. Visually, it couldn't be more stunning. The burger patties were made of rice cakes; brown crispy rice on the outside, softer white rice on the inside, giving them the look of real burger buns from afar.
These were filled with a generous serving of deep-fried chicken, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce and a sweet and sour sauce that was unlike anything you'd expect to taste on a burger. All of this was held together by a sheet of seaweed, giving the overall product a delightfully sushi-like appearance.
The rice patties themselves were delicious. They were the right level of crispy and helped balance the smoothness of the softer fillings. They also worked supremely well with the seaweed, the bitterness of which surprisingly didn't overpower the rest of the ingredients.
The fried chicken was also cooked to perfection; not sickeningly heavy or oily, and with a subtle though flavourful taste.
The real point of contention was the sauce. With a unique and distinctively sweet taste, it failed to complement the robust flavours of the other ingredients. It was overpowered by everything else, to the extent that you could barely taste it. And the moments when you did were spoiled by the utter sweetness of the sauce. While sweet and savoury flavours have enjoyed a happy marriage in the culinary world for decades, the flavours of the fried chicken and sweetness of the sauce had a jarring effect together.
The sauce here had the texture of a thin soy-sauce and the flavour of a hoisin sauce mixed with sugar, honey and potentially some lemon. Overall, it didn't make much sense considering such a sauce would rarely be found on a sushi roll or a burger. The expectation when biting into something as large and ingredient-heavy as the Sushi Burger would be a thicker, creamier sauce that could bring the rest of the ingredients together in harmony. Instead, Gojima's sauce managed to make the ingredients taste isolated.
The heavy ingredients really called for a more powerful sauce.
The role of the sauce in a burger cannot be undermined; the sauce generally sets the tone for the rest of the ingredients and leaves a distinct taste in your mouth with every bite. Unfortunately, Gojima's Sushi Burger failed to pass this crucial test, making this potentially legendary meal enter a forgettable territory.
However, we must give credit to two things. The first being the chips, which had an incredible Umami seasoning that made them difficult to put down. The chips alone might be a good enough reason to make a trek to Gojima.
Another thing that deserves credit is the sheer innovation and bravery of pairing two such popular dishes into one. People have high expectations when eating both burgers and sushi. After all, the world has had decades to master the art of each. Kojima's admirable attempt serves as an exciting reminder that the most exciting days of the culinary industry still lie ahead of it.
While not perfect, the Sushi Burger is worth a try. More importantly, as the establishment grows, Kojima's notorious perfectionism is bound to fix the chinks in his restaurant's armour and carry his creation across to greener pastures.