Sushi burgers, Japanese-style fried chicken, and chocolate miso frozen custard – Sydney’s first rice burger bar, Gojima, is upping the stakes.
Japanese chef Chase Kojima of Sydney’s Sokyo and Gold Coast’s Kiyomi is combining his love of rice with a fast food favourite - without skimping on fun. He wanted to take the easy on-the-go sushi experience and inject it with more flavour and cool.
The sushi burger (or 'rice bun burger' as Kojima calls it) is quickly shaking up the overcrowded burger space. Kojima and his business partner Jie Han were on a mission to serve fine dining quality food in a casual setting at an affordable price, giving life to Gojima seven months ago. “I didn’t want to just jump into the burger battle,” Kojima says. “We needed to make it easy, make it really cool and make it super-delicious because if we are going to make a burger, it better be goddamn good otherwise we won’t survive.”
Gojima's name is a play on Kojima’s surname and the Japanese word for rice (gohan), as the chef remixes the classic cheese, fish and veg burgers with a Japanese twist.
“I like to modify and create new dishes, taking inspiration from my childhood growing up in San Francisco, and combining that with the roots of Japanese cooking,” he explains.
Gojima’s fast-casual pace and diner-like setting is a far cry from the dimly-lit Sokyo around the corner but the kitchens share common ground. Everything is made to order (even their French fries); they don’t pre-fry or pre-cook; and timing and quality is nurtured from the beginning to the end of each order. It’s a detail the chef prides himself on.
The crispy rice seaweed-encased "bun" uses Kojima’s own blend of Japanese sushi rice. Then, each stack gets its own house-made special sauce and fillings. The signature Gojima Cheeseburger is Angus beef, American cheese, tomato, Japanese pickles, onion, lettuce and Gojima special sauce. It also comes in double patty form, which Kojima admits he eats every day – twice, sometimes. The salmon miso stack with cheese, lettuce, cucumber, radish, pickles, green onions and house-made miso sauce is a riff on the loved salmon sushi roll.
Shoestring fries are dusted with house-made umami salt and served with an optional Jap mayo dipping sauce. For those who think fried chicken is life, Gojima serves up their own Japanese-style crispy-skin batch. Sweets include frozen custards and thickshakes, all spun in-house and made fresh each day in flavours including chocolate miso, green tea and strawberries and cream. Wine and Asahi are on tap and Japanese-imported sake is also available.
Kojima hopes to open two more stores in Sydney by the end of next year before tackling the overseas market. If his own daily quota is anything to go by, it’s safe to say these rice burgers stacks up to the rest.