If you want to order a tuna burger at Redeye Grill, you'll need to be a little more specific. The bustling Midtown Manhattan surf-and-turf spot serves a cooked cut of tuna on a regular hamburger bun that goes by that name, but it's probably not the one you're there to try. "We've sent so many of those out to a table - and then back to the kitchen," laughs executive chef Jawn Chasteen. Not because they're bad; they're just not what guests have seen on Instagram. That's the sushi burger, which is deceivingly also tuna stuffed between two buns, but the buns are formed from rice and the tuna's the raw kind you'd find in a traditional sushi roll.
Chefs at Redeye Grill started making sushi burgers almost a year ago. Inspiration struck after seeing something similar in Los Angeles, and Chasteen knew it would take off for his restaurant, too. "The spicy tuna roll is one of our most popular dishes, so the burger is just an out-of-the-box presentation of something that's familiar to guests," he says. The gimmick blew up for Redeye Grill before chefs could even officially make it a menu item, hence the ordering confusion. And since it wasn't written in stone (or rather, printed on a menu), Chasteen had the chance to experiment with different combinations. You can order white rice buns or ones made from black rice or a quinoa blend. He's also tried different fillings - pickled vegetables and shrimp tempura - but the tuna remains the most-ordered. On a busy weekend night, nimble-fingered sushi chefs might send 100 sushi burgers out of the kitchen.
While it's got all the usual suspects on a sushi roll (ginger, avocado, seaweed), it's not the most traditional Japanese dish you can get. But then again, this is New York - concrete jungle where dreams are made of. And if those dreams include burgers made from sushi, you damn well bet we're gonna support them.
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