Don’t be fooled – this isn’t just another burger post, but a post about Japanese food with a twist. If the typical sloppy meat burgers aren’t your thing, or you’re looking to try something a bit different, did you know there are sushi and ramen burgers in town? If not, now you do! If curiosity is biting at you right now, read on.
J Cafe Restaurant: 176 Exhibition St
If you haven’t heard of this place in the city, this is where you can get your dose of sushi burgers. You are probably wondering what this actually consists of, but it’s not entirely surprising, it’s made of exactly what a sushi roll would have.
Two patties made of squished rice sandwich your filling, in my case, my soft shell crab and lettuce ($8.50 on its own, below) and in my friend’s case some prawns and avocado ($5.50). Then a sheet of seaweed encloses the entire creation and voila, you have your sushi burger!
It was fairly busy when we got there, so we had to wait about 10-15minutes before we were seated. As a takeaway place, there wasn’t really much space to stand without being in the way of the entrance so we were relieved when some people left and we got to sit down.
Apologies for the blurry picture, just included to show how they presented the food
A mere sushi burger would not fill me up, so we went for the set meals where you get your chosen meal with your burger (unsure of price, but quite worth it) and then you can choose between a drink or miso soup, so we had one of each. I’m not sure if this is the same as the bento meals ($12.50) on their current menu, but it doesn’t seem to be, as these are all packed into one bento box, whereas ours were served separately.
The presentation of the meals were quite impressive, coming on a large plate with sauce and extras such as cucumber, lettuce, tomato, corn, lemon and sauce. The ebi fry (deep fried prawns) are pictured above and our other choice was a good, safe serving of gyoza (Japanese pork dumplings, below). I don’t feel like you can go wrong with fried Japanese foods so I happily enjoyed the crumbed outside of the prawn and believe it always goes well with its mayo to dip in. From my bad memory, the gyoza were passable and I think it was a decent serving to go with the sushi burger.
My soft shell crab was not bad and just a bit bigger than what you would get in a normal sized sushi roll. It wasn’t mind-blowing though and could have been a bit crispier and golden rather than its murky brown colour. The downside was the wait. The prawn burger came out first, then the sides, however it seemed that the crab burgers took a little longer.
It was a busy Friday night, so it was lucky that I could enjoy the sides whilst I waited. I enjoyed the cute Sushi Burger cartoon character (right) on the waiters’ shirts and on the menu and I would come back to try some of their other burgers such as the salmon aburi or their burger and noodle sets. I would also simply come back, because it’s something different to your typical Japanese and a different way to consume sushi, which is an everyday thing in Melbourne. They do have your standard Japanese meals too if you’re around the area so don’t be afraid to give it a try!
Shizuku: 309 Victoria St, Abbotsford
You’ll be surprised to find this one towards the (funky) end of Victoria St, standing out from the abundance of Vietnamese eateries. Looking to choose between the Japanese and Korean we found on this particular end (closer to North Richmond Station), we wandered back to Shizuku and thought we would give it a chance.
It’s fairly small and was not busy at all for a Saturday night. The menu was quite small but their zensai or appetiser list was the most extensive section and had some dishes I hadn’t come across before. My friend was curious as to what eel tastes like, and I do enjoy my unagi (eel) don, so I was happy to order the unagi salad ($15) which included salad leaves, cucumber, apple, cherry tomato and some crispy noodles on top.
I was afraid that it would be a small serving as a starter, but it was a suitable size for two people to share and we managed to pick through it from the start and all throughout our meal. The dressing was light but gave a sweet edge to the dish, balancing out the sour apples and adding flavour to the greens. Unagi has always tasted like fish to me, which I love, so the chopped pieces of grilled eel and its fish flavour were really complimented by the whole combination of apple and dressing. Whoever decided to start using apples in salads (a-la Chin Chin and Red Spice Road), is a genius!
My friend went for the miso ramen ($15) and I couldn’t go past the novelty of the ramen burger ($15). I didn’t realise until I saw the burger on the menu, that I had come across this place once on Weekendnotes and thought I should try this sometime. Having stumbled into this exact place unintentionally, I took this as a calling to have the ramen burger for the good of my blog (and curiosity).
You can get it with either pork belly or eggplant, and although I do like eggplant, I can never pass on pork belly. It had candied pork belly, plum sauce, prune sauce and kewpie mayonnaise. I’m not entirely clear what “candying” pork belly involves, but I guess it’s similar to caramelised but maybe even slightly sweeter. Don’t expect a crunchy and crispy pork, but a soft and tender pork with some rich sauces to go with it.
The buns that enclose the burger are made from the ramen noodles, compacted into circular patties that sandwich your pork and lettuce. I’m also a big fan of plum sauce, so I enjoyed the combination of the sweet pork and rich condiments. The burger is served with miso soup and I was surprised as to how filling the burger could be.
The only problem was the usual burger dilemma – the messy end. Noodle buns aren’t exactly solid enough to hold everything together by then, and with the sauce seeping in, I found it difficult to hold and eat it without losing my dignity. The best I could do was put the leftover compacted noodles (there was no meat left) in my spoon and to eat it with my miso soup!
Despite the low ratings, I would suggest giving this place a try. I find the ramen burger much more interesting than the sushi burger, as their combination of sauces and the amazing, soft candied pork really won me over. But it will be more likely that you’ll find me at J Cafe in the meantime, merely for the convenience of location in the city!