Raleigh, N.C. — Cow and fish - that is pretty much the staples of the menu at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, which is based in Charlotte. They specialize is tasty fusion cuisine - burgers, sushi and burgers and sandwiches prepared in sushi-roll style.
The Out and About team headed to their newest location in Raleigh on Friday for a special soft-opening. We were immediately hooked. Read below to find out why.
The Location: In North Hills shopping center inside the Captrust building near World of Beer and next to Yard House. There is a lot on the other side of Bruegger's you can park in and there is parking along the street. If you opt for the garage, make sure you take the elevator up to the lobby. I got lost in the garage because I started to take the stairs and that was bringing me to the other side of the pavilion near World of Beer.
The decor is awesome! The pictures on the wall are fun, quirky and hilarious! Look for the cow version of "Wicked" and the sign starring a certain red-head and a King!
In the center, they have a beautiful fish tank, featuring actual cowfish, and rocks designed to look like sushi rolls, burgers, sweet potato fries, burger and soy sauce bottles.
If you are in the mood to hit the sushi bar, they have screens built into the bar for you to place your order and play a few games while you wait.
The Menu: A mix of Asian-fusion and American cuisine. The menu itself is huge! We were so overwhelmed that it took us a while to order. The servers are well-versed on the menus and can help explain the highlights. They have appetizers, salads (which all come in vegetarian versions for $8), burgers (including beef, bison and turkey with everything from fried eggs to peanut butter!), sandwiches and sushi. Their extensive sushi list also includes Burgushi - these are their signature item and are sushi rolls created using beef and burger components and non-traditional ingredients, and sandwiches created using sushi components. They also offer Bento boxes with combinations of burgers and sushi.
Their desserts are big enough to share and all run about $7. They have unique takes on cheesecake, chocolate cake and apple pie. Their hand-spun shakes, which are decadently delicious, also come in spiked versions for adults.
After exhaustively looking through the menu, we decided to start with the Crab Rangoon Dip ($10). This is a great take on the classic crab Rangoon filling. You get the filling on the side served as a creamy dip topped with Parmesan panko crust. It is served with wonton crisps drizzled with a sweet chili sauce. This app was huge! It looked even bigger because of the mountain of wontons. We absolutely loved this dish. We could have made a meal on just this. The dip was creamy and you could see the crab meat in it. Our only complaint was that the chips could have used a side of sweet chili sauce or just need to be drizzled just a bit more. The sauce was so good!
Our entrees included the The Taste Explosion Roll ($14), which was one of their Burgushi items. They looked like sushi rolls, until you broke inside to find seasoned Angus beef, applewood bacon, jalapenos and a spicy cream sauce. The rolls were coated with tempura flakes and topped with a marinated Roma tomato and pepper jack cheese. Our non-sushi loving team member, Caitlin, opted for this meal. Her only complaint was the small piece of soggy bacon on each roll.
We found these rolls to be a great alternative to a traditional burger. The blend of flavors was nice and the cream sauce had a great kick to it.
We also tried the Blackened Tuna Roll ($17). I ordered this one because I couldn't resist a lump crabcake mix and cream cheese filled anything! It was rolled in tempura flakes and topped with a slice of seared blackened tuna and guacamole. It also comes with jalapenos on top, but I opted for them on the side. I eat sushi but mostly choose the cooked rolls. I'm also originally from New Orleans, so when I saw "blackened" I immediately thought that tuna was fully cooked and seasoned. I completely glossed over the "seared" part. Anyway, the rolls were so good. For someone who doesn't eat raw sushi too much, this was a great roll to try it out with. The tuna was perfectly seasoned and really didn't have a "fishy" taste. The inside of the roll was more crabby than cake - a good thing! And the guacamole on top was a great topping to help balance out the flavors.
Tara, our resident sushi expert at the table, said it was the best roll she has ever had.
Tara wanted to try out a few items, so she went with the Cowfish Specialty Bento Box ($12), which came with a mini-burger, sweet potato fries, Thai cucumbers, edamame and a four-piece sushi roll.
"After the appetizer, this was a ton of food but it is a great way to get a taste of everything," Tara said.
The cheeseburger was delicious and cooked perfectly. Tara opted for the spicy tuna roll and said it tasted "very fresh."
"After all this food, I was already feeling full but the sweet potato fries were so good I couldn’t stop eating them," she said.
They were good!
Dessert: They were only offering a few items during their soft opening. We chose the Apple Pie "Wontons" ($7). This dish was a great variation of a classic apple pie. The wontons were wrapped around homemade apple pie filling then flash fried. It was topped with sweet caramel cream sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Since we wanted to sample as much as possible, we also ordered the Gimme More S'More hand-spun milkshake ($5) and we had them split it so we could each get a small taste. This was really good. It was made with vanilla bean ice cream and then hand-spun with double dark chocolate, mallow cream and crunchy graham crackers. We would definitely order this again.
The service: The servers and managers were great at explaining the menu and answering any questions we had. They know the menu is massive and that this is a new concept in the area, so they are there to help. Food was served promptly and was great.
The bill: You can see by the prices we included, this isn't a cheap place. The portions are huge, but you will be paying more than $10 per person easily.
The verdict: While we can't afford to eat there every day, we want to! The food is fresh, innovative and tasty. We recommend that sushi fans and burger lovers give it a try. It is one of the rare places that might have a little something for everyone. We will definitely be back.