It took me a while to get there, but I finally did it.
Back when we had been going to Sunday yoga at Crunch Fitness in the city, Night Owl and I did a regular brunch thing, until we joined a gym closer to our home hub in Neutral Bay. Sunday brunches sadly became a thing of the past. But one of the items on my previous wish-list still remained: a visit to Gojima.
Gojima is located in The Star, and is award-winning chef Chase Kojima of Sokyo’s take on sushi burgers, as well as other classic favourites.
Sushi Burgers…? Is a burger still a burger if you sub out the hamburger bun for rice patties and nori? Is a burger still a burger if you put in hunks of salmon, tuna or kingfish sashimi?
Night Owl and I had a rare Saturday night free together, and so I suggested a date day around the city before heading down to The Star and finishing off with a walk around the Barangaroo precinct. It was probably about six or a little earlier when we arrived at Gojima, and it was less than a quarter full. The second time we visited on a weekday evening at 6.30pm it was bustling and lively, so I would recommend coming early if you want to peruse the menu.
I was very excited for the selection of drinks, as not only do they have green tea, chocolate miso and strawberry and cream shakes that you can get as “frozen custard” (ice cream), but an ample selection of bottled Japanese beers and sake, and draft Asahi Super Dry and Asahi Black – my all-time favourite beer. Amazingly enough, you can also get Asahi 50-50 – a combination of the Super dry and black. We got a classic Asahi pint each of the 50-50 and I absolutely loved it. The rich, caramel flavour of the black with the lightness and refreshing characteristics of the Super dry.
Aside from the burgers, you can also get fried chicken Japanese-style (but Southern fried?) with unique Gojima seasoning, and french fries with Gojima Umami salt. We got a burger each, and a large fries to share.
First things first: the fries are AMAZING. I first taste umami salt at Ume Burger down in Barangaroo, and it blows my mind every time I have it. Salty, slightly sweet, and amazingly moreish – I dare you to stop at a few fries!
Now to the burgers. I had ordered the fried chicken, and Night Owl the cheeseburger.
The fried chicken comes with crispy chicken, cheese, tomato, pickles, lettuce and Gojima Miso sauce.
I had previously had a MOS burger once and didn’t really like it at all – the rice buns were too soft, and reminded me a little too much of a rice ball (onigiri). But what Kojima has done here is form tight, firm squares of cooked rice and browned it, so what you get is deliciously crispy, savoury rice tucked into a sheet of folded nori.
It’s probably slightly messier to eat than a regular milk-bun hamburger as it’s a little harder to compress between your hands, but it more than makes up for it in texture and flavour contrasts. The salad and pickles are beautifully fresh, the chicken shattering crisp on the outside yet tender inside, and the Miso sauce was lip-smackingly good.
I had a bite of Night Owl’s cheeseburger, which had an Angus beef pattie, cheese, tomato, pickles, lettuce and special sauce. The pattie was tender and still a little pink, but I did prefer mine more!
On our second visit, Night Owl liked the cheeseburger so much that she ordered it again, and I decided to try the Gojima Mushroom Burger with crispy Katsu mushroom, cheese, tomato, pickles, lettuce and special sauce. No fries or beer this time – we were off to the Lyric Theatre to see Book of Mormon and didn’t want to over-indulge!
I really enjoyed how different the mushroom burger was, and I’m a person who would never dream of getting the vegetarian option on the menu. The mushroom was lightly battered and fried, crispy and still juicy inside. My only criticism was that the mushroom was a bit smaller than the rice patties, so there was still quite a bit of free real-estate between the top and bottom layers of the burger.
I’m sold enough to want to come back to try the sushi burgers – particularly the spicy tuna! Perhaps with another beer and more of those fries….and maybe I want to try that frozen custard too….
Level G, Cafe Court
The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009