Food adventure @ J Cafe Restaurant
Like most people, my mind will conjure up images of bread buns sandwiching a meat patty and veggies when I hear the word ‘burger’. But this is not the case for the burgers at J Cafe. Home to what may be Melbourne’s only SUSHI BURGER, J Cafe prep their burgers with not bread but with sushi rice ‘buns’ and two nori (Japanese seaweed) sheets. As the name succinctly suggests, it’s a sushi in burger form.
For those of you looking for a quick getaway or if the tables in the cosy space are all occupied, a takeaway option for $1 less than the dine-in price is available during the lunch and afternoon hours. We arrived at 6.30pm for dinner on a Thursday night and we were able to easily secure a table for four people in the back area.
Their sushi burger sets offer great value for money and will ensure that you leave the restaurant full.
Spoilt for choice, picking a meal was difficult enough… but then we had to also choose the burger. First world problem, I know! It took a while but we finally managed to place our order.
Our meal sets allowed us to choose between a bowl of miso soup or a canned drink. With the cooler Autumn weather starting to kick in, we all ordered the miso soup.
Ebi fry - deep fried crumb prawn.
I had previously tried the ebi (prawn) mayo sushi burger and loved it. This time around, I was told about the legendary soft shell crab burger and as a result, I couldn’t choose between the two burgers. Solution? Order the prawns as part of the meal set, with a soft shell crab sushi burger. I was disappointed to see what looked like ordinary tempura prawns when the dish was first placed in front of me, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. The batter was the crispiest and crunchiest I had ever encountered. A dip into the creamy mayo and a thick teriyaki sauce, plus a squeeze of lemon juice provided the perfect flavour combinations for the prawns.
Agedashi tofu - deep fried tofu, served in a special dipping sauce.
J Cafe’s reputation for tasty sushi burgers may need to be revised to include other Japanese dishes because their Agedashi tofu was also among the best I have tried to date. The batter on the exterior actually possessed some crunch before softening in the presence of the dipping sauce. The tofu was tender and silky. The serving size was extremely generous. The only thing that would have made this dish even better would be some rice.
Soba salad - Japanese cold buckwheat noodles, with special dipping sauce.
The soba noodles possessed a light but aromatic sesame oil flavour that teased the palate with each bite. This dish is highly recommended if you’re after a light and refreshing selection.
Now for the sushi burgers…
Presenting, (drum roll), the soft shell crab sushi burger.
The burger was made up of the following components: rice patties, soft shell crab, lettuce, teriyaki sauce and tartare sauce.
The word legendary often follows with disappointment when high expectations are not met. While the soft shell crab burger wasn’t bad, it also wasn’t mind-blowingly awesome. The batter on the soft shell crab was crispy but lacked that fine and delicately crumbed texture that is, what I think, a crucial feature of great soft shell crab. Thanks to the presence of two huge dollops of mayo, I thought the rich creaminess and sweetness of the mayo overpowered the crab and rice in the first few bites. The remainder of the burger tasted fine, and the light soy sauce-like teriyaki sauce and brief encounters with wasabi brought out the best of the burger.
Spicy tuna sushi burger.
Now THIS was a sushi burger worth raving about! I have only recently acquired the taste for raw fish but raw tuna had remained on my dislike list. After trying this sushi burger, I may have to reconsider! The fresh-tasting tuna was tender and soft, and the natural flavour of the tuna was spruced up by the perfect ratio of spice to creamy mayo.
If you like sushi as well as burgers, then the sushi burgers at J Cafe are a must-try!
J Cafe Restaurant
167 Exhibition St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9650 9877