Sydney opens its first rice burger bar, Gojima, at The Star in Pyrmont

Gojima merges together the chef's name and "gohan" - the Japanese word for rice.
Gojima merges together the chef's name and "gohan" - the Japanese word for rice. Photo: Supplied

Guess what? Burger nerds stuck in an unending "brioche vs milk bun" argument now have a new topic to battle: the bun-free burger.

They can test out the merits of this trend at Gojima, Sydney's first rice burger bar, which opens at The Star tomorrow.

It's the new creative project by Sokyo's Chase Kojima. After conquering ramen with his pop-up canteen last year, he's the latest hatted chef to start a burger bar (joining the ranks of Neil Perry, Kerby Craig and Warren Turnbull), but of course, Gojima is unlike anything in Sydney right now. It's the city's first dedicated rice burger joint.

Replacing the trademark buns associated with special sauce, pickles and patties was a tricky procedure for Kojima.

"For me, the mark of a good burger is one you can pick up without it all falling apart. Because we're using rice and not bread, a lot of engineering had to take place to get it just right," he says. Besides troubleshooting with various rice blends and techniques, the chef took on other research - of the waistline-expanding kind.

Gojima is Chase Kojima's new rice burger bar at The Star.

The Gojima Double is stacked with two Angus beef patties. Photo: Supplied

"I gained more than 10kg sampling burgers all around Sydney!" he says. "I also took some inspiration from my trip to Tokyo back in 2014 and made a trip to Tasmania to taste salmon, so we've been working on [the project] for some time now."

The chef adds that flavours that work with rice aren't always what's compatible with bread, so his menu - which features nine burgers made with Gojima's signature sushi rice and nori bun - cross-breeds burger staples with Japanese cuisine.

"One of the signature burgers is a remix of the classic hamburger, the Gojima cheeseburger. It is a combination of 100 per cent, all-natural Angus beef, melted American cheese, tomato, Japanese pickles, onion, lettuce and Gojima special sauce," he says. Stuffed between other burgers are sustainably sourced Tasmanian salmon, yellowfin tuna, Hiramasa kingfish, crispy chicken and crispy mushroom katsu. Each protein gets its own special sauce, which is made in-house.


And if you associate burgers with fried chicken - don't worry, Gojima will be offering a Japanese-style version (in four sizes, for all appetites). Want fries with that? They'll come as shoestrings dusted with umami seasoning.

Japanese-style fried chicken is also on the menu.

Japanese-style fried chicken is also on the menu. Photo: Supplied

"We've also got frozen custards and thickshakes that are spun in-house and include chocolate miso, green tea and strawberries and cream flavours. You can also add extra like Oreos or malt to taste – I can't get enough of the green tea frozen custard with Oreos on top!" he says. There is also Asahi on tap, sake and wine if you prefer your burgers with some booze.

Gojima takes over the original Adriano Zumbo site at The Star - which initially opened opposite Momofuku Seiobo with Willy-Wonka-style playfulness, thanks to a Luchetti Krelle design that included a dessert sushi train and macaron wallpaper. The Sydney studio returns to the site to give Gojima a Japanese look - complete with trademark blonde timber accents and "a fantastic origami-fold pattern on the walls", says the chef. The crowds of burger-hungry diners will not be far away.

Open Mon-Thurs 11.30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11.30am-11pm, Sun 11.30am-9pm.

Café Court, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Road, Pyrmont,