Senpai Burger Sydney; Rice burger Sydney; Sushi burger Sydney

The ‘nori-roll-hamburger’ comes in fried chicken, salmon, tuna and vegan options, all for less than $20.

Scott Bolles

Fans of Sokyo chef Chase Kojima’s “bunless” rice burgers will be queuing on Thursday, June 1, when Senpai Burger opens in Chatswood and Burwood.

Kojima’s obsession with rice-wrapped burgers (a “nori-roll-hamburger hybrid”) has hit new heights, says Howin Chui, Kojima’s business partner at Senpai: “Chase has developed new fried chicken and plant-based Impossible burgers, to go with salmon, tuna and normal [beef] burgers. They’ll all be under $20.”

Fried chicken sushi burgers are on the menu at Chase Kojima’s latest pop-up.
Fried chicken sushi burgers are on the menu at Chase Kojima’s latest pop-up.Kera Wong

The opening of the Senpai Burger pop-up is part of a major realignment of Chui and Kojima’s business.

It slides into the venues where the duo’s Senpai Ramen Chatswood and Senpai Ramen Burwood traded.

“We want people to be able to try Chase’s quality food in an affordable way,” Chui says.

Ramen and steak will also be on the new menu.
Ramen and steak will also be on the new menu.Kera Wong

There will still be a few ramen dishes on the new burger menu, but the plan is to give Kojima’s signatures different times to shine.

Chui explains a Senpai Ramen focused pop-up might make a mid-winter return, “or we might focus on sushi, or Japanese-style tacos”.

He points to the successful multi-national food chains, which maintain a pruned list of signatures while pushing a new product centre stage.

In mid-July both the Chatswood and Burwood spaces will be given makeovers to bring them into line with Senpai Concepts’ new orange and white palette.

It isn’t entirely a shift to the mid-market for the brand. Later this year they’ll open a 10-seat Senpai Omakase next door to the existing Chatswood shop.

The plant-based Impossible burger.
The plant-based Impossible burger.Kera Wong

For now, Chui and Kojima are focused on burgers, including plans for takeaway containers resembling video games and sneaker boxes.

They’ve also researched how a Senpai burger can best travel and be eaten at home. “A couple of minutes in an air-fryer and you still get that crispiness of the rice,” Chui says.

Senpai Burger pop-up opens Thursday, June 1

14/27 Belmore Street, Burwood and 5/88 Archer Street, Chatswood,

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Scott BollesScott Bolles writes the weekly Short Black column in Good Food.

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