The western menu is constantly evolving and in recent years it seems consumers are demanding more and more outrageous culinary curiosities. These crazy combos, known as food mashup have become quite trendy. Some have even gained additional popularity after being spoofed on sitcoms, for example Two Broke Girls had an entire episode centered on the cronut. If you are not up with food trends, a cronut is a cross between and croissant and a doughnut. Even fast food restaurants are mashing it up these days. Taco Bell got in on the action with its waffle taco. Basically they took a waffle, folded it to form a “taco shell” and stuffed it with sausage and egg. I suppose this is a practical one-handed breakfast for the commuter on the go, who doesn’t mind having all the breakfast flavors combined. But everyday new mashups are created to tempt the pallets of the brave or simply curious. The latest in this mashup trend is the Sushi burger.
I admit the image that popped into my head when first hearing of this combo was not at all appetizing. I imagined a fast food hamburger with an over sized slice of sushi roll in place of the lettuce and tomato. Ugh! What a relief it was to learn that other than it’s shape a sushi burger doesn’t closely resemble the classic American hamburger. First off there is no bun. That will be welcome news to those trying to avoid wheat. The most popular form of the sushi burger is constructed of two “bun halves” molded from the classic Japanese sticky rice, these are filled with a variety of other sushi roll ingredients. If you are having trouble picturing this unique new hand held food trend, take a moment to type sushi burger into your search engine. In addition to being popular for consumption these babies are so photogenic that sushi burgers of every variety are popping up all over instagram. You can even find photos of a sushi burger version of sliders. This is more like a reshaping of the classic sushi roll, conveniently bite sized, but far more difficult to consume on the go.
Where the sushi burger diverges from traditional Japanese roll is in its ingredients. Some restaurants that server these sushi burgers are especially creative with their fillings. These burgers obviously come with the standard sushi fare including raw fish, or tempura shrimp, but in some restaurants you can order your sushi burger with beef patties, fried chicken or shredded pork. These varieties still offer the standard Japanese condiments of pickled ginger, wasabi and even eel sauce. The Café J Melbourne in Australia definitely takes the burger part very seriously. Their sushi burgers do include the traditional beef patty. Apparently, when it comes to food mashups the only limit is one’s imagination. I personally think the combination of a standard beef patty and my beloved dragon roll would taste nasty. But then I’ve never tried it, so what do I know. Thankfully, there are chefs out there adventurous enough to push the traditional flavor barriers.
The sushi burger offers definite appeal for those who already enjoy the more traditional sushi roll. Image a dragon roll, spicy tuna roll or even, the tamest, California roll, but in a burger shape. One obviously can’t consume this type of sushi in the traditional way. It is unlikely any normal human being could fit an entire sushi burger into their mouth at once. Some of us have trouble just fitting in a normal roll and having the ability to chew.
The sushi burger does offer the advantage of portability, especially if one wants to eat sushi on the go. Before the sushi burger, drivers were left to awkwardly balance a tray of sushi rolls on their knee and attempt to retrieve them one at a time while keeping full attention on the road. But the sushi burger has solved this driving dilemma. Now one can enjoy all the flavor of their favorite rainbow roll just as easily as scarffing down a Big Mac.
One of the most appealing things about the sushi burger is that it isn’t a Big Mac or similar cholesterol laden hamburger. The sushi burger also offers a unique culinary choice for those with specific food allergies. If you are gluten intolerant for example, the sushi burger would be an excellent portable alternative to the, rather dull, rice cake sandwich. Just make sure they hold the soy sauce. (Yes, most brands contain gluten.) Vegans will also be excited about this Japanese inspired mashup. Just like the sushi at your local restaurant, the sushi burger can be ordered without fish as well.
That’s about enough about the all the convenient and possibly superior aspects of the sushi burger. You are probably wondering what brilliant madman (or woman) thought this up? I’m afraid that information is classified or rather impossible to determine. While the sushi burger title and trend are new, this form of sushi has been around for many years. Apparently Japan’s MOS Burger restaurant has been serving this trending food item under the name “rice burger” since 1987. With the newfound popularity of this twist on traditional sushi, restaurants are being created just to satisfy the public’s sushi burger cravings and curiosity. If you are just dying to give this new mashup a try, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar already has locations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta and Orlando.
However, if you don’t happen to live near one of these trend setting sushi bars, don’t despair. The way this particular mashup is trending you will likely find the sushi burger cropping up on menus in local restaurants very soon. But if you just can’t wait that long and don’t want to drive miles in search of this unique sushi sandwich, there is always the do-it-yourself option. Asian specialty food stores are becoming the norm in small towns all over the US. There you can find the ingredient to construct a sushi burger. With a quick Internet search you will find instructional videos on how to create your very own sushi burger, with raw fish or not.