This year I didn’t make such a huge effort to attend what was once one of my favourite festivals: the annual Night Noodle Markets in the lush grasslands of Sydney’s Hyde Park. I went at 9.30pm on one of its final days and although my chicken bao from Wonderbao was soft, spongy and delicious and my Vietnamese noodle salad from The Star’s food stall was decent, but not anything special, it was a literal reminder that the food is heavily overpriced, not always on the mark and quite repetitive from year to year. This isn’t an attack on the markets, the crowds are great, the stallholders hardworking and the atmosphere a lot of fun but when you’re short on money, it isn’t very appealing paying upwards of $15 for a tiny portion of street food. So I won’t be doing a review of the markets but this post more than makes up for Asian street food musings. Sushi Burgers! Yes, you heard right. Sydney, you suck, why don’t we have even one sushi burger joint out of thousands of sub-par sushi trains!?
Oh, you don’t know what a sushi burger is? Brilliant; let me enlighten you, inquisitive one. A sushi burger is much tastier than sushi, overrides the Americanised ramen burger by a long run and may even be better than an actual burger, depending on how you look at it (be gentle, burger purists, go check this place out before you judge). When two pals and I trod off to Melbourne this year, they gleamed with joy and crazy excitement upon mentioning this delight. I had no idea what they were on about. Heck, I couldn’t even picture what a burger crossed with sushi would look or taste like. All that came to mind was this gorgeous modern Japanese fusion cookbook I borrowed off a friend in high school that really piqued my interest in Japanese cuisine. What a beautiful book. I literally spent days photocopying recipes that soon disappeared off into some trash bin when mum decided we needed yet another monthly ‘spring’ clean. I need to rediscover this clever little book if ever I remember its title. The sushi burger recalled a recipe from that beloved book which involved two patties of glistening sushi rice that made up the bun of the ‘burger’ and crisp, glazed karaage chicken within. Drool. .
Japanese Café Restaurant J (what a mouthful), in a tiny shopfront within Melbourne’s CBD, sells sushi burgers which involve the same principle but also include more burger-like fillings such as lettuce and sauce as well as a slice of nori on the rice buns, just to convince diners that this isn’t merely a rice burger, but a legit suuuushi burgaaaaa. Soft Shell Crab ($8.50 eat-in) was highly recommended by the two fanaticals but as any food blogger would do, I decided we needed to document more variety so I chose Teriyaki Chicken ($6.50 eat-in). I peered over to the left where the sushi chef was delicately constructing the miniature soft shell burger and I waved my hand like a madwoman with my sudden change of heart. I needed the soft shell, after all.
If I could describe how cute this little specimen was, believe me I would. Again, my photos don’t do justice to anything but I almost fan-girled at this little bambino in my hands. Just one bite and I was bedazzled. The soft, sticky rice bun, salty crunch of the crab, creamy kewpie mayo, tangy bulldog sauce and fresh lettuce leaf. Ka-bloom; there goes my heart. This kitschy, understated Japanese joint is a must on your next trip down south. Suuuuushi Burgaaaaaa.