Maybe one day in the future there’ll be a rice-burger restaurant in every Australian town. You’ll see one on a highway next to a McDonald’s or beside an inner-city pub. That’s the distant dream for Sokyo chef Chase Kojima and business partner Jie Han. For now, the duo brings us Gojima, Sydney’s first rice-burger restaurant.
Firstly, what is a rice burger? It’s a burger, but instead of using bread, there are crisp rice patties with a long sheet of seaweed holding it together on one side. It’s filled with all your regular burger ingredients.
This particular version was imagined by Kojima out of disappointment with the lack of quality, Japanese fast-food in Sydney.
“Fast, casual Japanese is not out there yet. Unless you want to eat takeaway sushi rolls,” Kojima says. Sushi rolls were actually his first idea, but he couldn’t make them delicious enough. The rice burger came after trialling fried chicken, frozen custard and booze concepts.
There are nine styles of rice burgers on offer, from cheeseburgers and crispy chicken to raw kingfish with sweet mustard or tuna with spicy mayo. “I tried to complement it with stuff that goes really well with rice. Ketchup, mustard and stuff goes really well with bread but it doesn't with rice,” says Kojima. He admits it took a marathon of rice experimentation to come up an umami-rich, Japanese, McDonald’s-style ‘special sauce’.
There’s also fried chicken. Kojima blends Japanese karaage (a soy-based marinade) with a Southern-American batter.
What are possibly Sydney’s thickest thickshakes come in green tea, chocolate miso or strawberries-and-cream flavours. They’re all made in-house with frozen custard.
Burgers, fried chicken and frozen-custard thickshakes in a food court sounds like a straightforward, albeit highly innovative fast-food concept, right? Kojima is hesitant to talk about it that way though. He says although it’s counter-service, it’s a step above the commercial chains.
The Luchetti Krelle fit-out and Gojima branding certainly hints at something braver. It’s all origami-inspired patterns and bold colours. “I didn't want it to be rustic, none of that. I wanted it to be identifiable. Bang, you're in Gojima,” says Kojima.
Hours: Mon to Thu 11:30am – 10pm Fri to Sat 11:30am – 11pm Sun 11:30am – 9pm