Culinary Journeys

Sushi burritos and donut burgers? 16 insane food mashups

Latifah Al-Hazza, for CNNUpdated 22nd October 2015
(CNN) — When one thinks of fusion food, dishes that balance the elegance of two distinct cuisines come to mind.
Maybe a plate of spaghetti livened up with Thai-inspired spice. Or sushi given an American twist by adding cream cheese and smoked salmon. Fusion is far too delicate a phrase to describe these 16 wild food mashups, most found in U.S. restaurants. Some will leave you horrified -- "That's culinary blasphemy!" -- but others will make you wonder why you didn't think of it first.

Ramen burgers

The ramen burger combines the best of American and Japanese food culture -- not to mention two of America's favorite fast foods. Basically, it's a beef patty sandwiched between two ramen noodle "buns." A secret shoyu sauce, arugula and scallions are also found in this brilliant concoction.
Where to find it? Ramen Burger has two locations: Los Angeles and New York. According to the restaurant's website, the burger's creator, Keizo Shimamoto, says its version is different from other ramen burger joints. "The ramen noodles stay together as a bun, but when you bite into it, it falls apart in your mouth. That's something knock-offs are not able to do."

Macaroni and cheese pancakes

Pasta and cheese in a matrix of pancake batter. It's the Macaroni + Cheese Pancake, served at Morning Glass Coffee in Honolulu, Hawaii. Made with aged Vermont cheddar, elbow macaroni and batter, the pancakes' crispy cheesiness mimics everything we love about grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ravioli pizza

RaviolPizza combines two of Italy's greatest hits.
Courtesy Melissa Hom
Well, at least you can still call it "Italian." A huge piece of ravioli serves as the base of RaviolPizza. Filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce, Parmesan and basil, this culinary delight can be found at Giovanni Rana Pastifico & Cucina in New York's Chelsea Market. It's lightly fried and topped with fresh tomatoes, then served with a pizza-cutter for that truly authentic experience.

Doswaffle

The doswaffle is South Indian dosa batter cooked in a Belgian waffle iron, resulting in a creation that's crispy on the outside and lightly springy on the inside. Created by Preeti Mistry of Oakland's Juhu Beach Club Restaurant, it's accompanied by all the elements served with a traditional masala dosa, such as masala potatoes, coconut chutney and sambar (a fiery lentil soup).

Pastrami bao

Ever thought to yourself, "Traditional Asian dumplings would taste a whole lot better if they were stuffed with pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut?" Then you're going to love the pastrami bao served at Bing Bing Dim Sum in Philadelphia, which comes with a side of Russian dressing.

Egg-stuffed muffin

This treat's name speaks for itself. The Rebel Within -- named after a Hank Williams song -- is an American twist on the U.K.'s beloved Scotch egg. Served by San Francisco restaurant Craftsman and Wolves, this savory muffin is made with sausage, Asiago cheese and green onions. In the center is a soft-cooked egg.

Mapo tofu chili cheese fries

King Noodle's menu is filled with ingredients from Korea, Japan and China. But the Brooklyn restaurant's most creative dish is mapo tofu chili cheese fries. It pairs American cheese and ground pork with French fries and the classic Sichuanese tofu stew.
Love spice? The name alone should lure you in but the mouth-tingling sensation you get from the peppercorns will have you coming back for more.

PB&J grilled cheese duck sandwich

And you thought PB&J with pickles was strange.
Courtesy PBJ's Grilled
Peanut butter and jelly... combined with blue cheese and duck? Served at Portland, Oregon's PBJ Grilled, this quirky version of the childhood classic is called the Oregonian. First, challah bread is spread with hazelnut butter. Then marionberry jam is layered on top. Next comes the best part... the blue cheese and pan-seared duck.

Falafel tacos

Middle East meets Mexico in this cross-cultural delight. Sancho Pistola's, in Philadelphia, has created the tafel: a mashup of falafels and tacos. Each corn tortilla is coated in jalapeno-infused Greek yogurt to round out the heat coming from the smoked cumin, pepper flakes and guajillo peppers. The falafels themselves are made in-house using a combination of Middle Eastern chickpeas and Mexican lima beans. The creator, chef Adan, says he's always been a falafel fan but felt it needed a spicier kick.

Pastrami egg rolls

Philadelphia isn't the only city that seems to think Chinese cuisine would be greatly improved by the addition of pastrami. The distinctive dishes found at New York's Red Farm restaurant include Katz Pastrami Egg Rolls, which come with a tasty mustard dip. The restaurant is famous for its unique take on Chinese classics, but this one has to be the most intriguing dish on the menu.

The donut burger

Red's True Barbecue's donut burger allows you to eat lunch and dinner at the same time. Two beef patties and strips of bacon and cheese are sandwiched between two glazed donuts. Accustomed as we are to hearing about odd mashups in the U.S., this one's actually on the menu in Leeds, England. Red's True calls its donut burger "the holy union of sweet, meat, and heat!"

Mac and cheese pizza

A Los Angeles restaurant has the perfect solution for those who are craving cheese but can't make up their mind what to order. Pizzanista!'s homemade mac and cheese pizza features cheddar, fontina, asiago and grana padano cheeses. Unfortunately, it's only served on Sundays so you'll have to keep your cravings in check for the week.

The bacon mochi

Oakland's FuseBOX describes its bacon mochi as sticky, savory, satisfying and fun to eat. A mochi's a Japanese rice cake, and the ones served here are crisp yet gooey. The crusty outside has the flavor of miso butter, while inside the salty chew of bacon is combined with chopped scallions. The final flavor surprise comes when you dab the mochi into Korean hot mustard.

Nutella lasagna

Lasagna with Nutella "sauce?" Might sound like something dreamed up late-night when the cupboard's bare, but it's actually on the menu at a Brooklyn bakery. This dessert involves pasta sheets with Nutella chocolate layered in between. Don't live in New York? Not to worry, its maker says Nutella lasagna can be shipped nationwide.
Robicelli's Bakery, 9009 5th Ave. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York; +1 917 509 6048

The sushi burrito

San Francisco's Sushirrito -- the original sushi burrito in a sea of imitators -- has taken Asian and Latin flavor combinations to new heights. The hand-held sushi burrito was created when founder Peter Yen couldn't find a quick, high-quality sushi lunch spot. Crispy chicken, oven-roasted pork belly and spicy Japanese eggplant are among the options you can toss into your sushi burrito. Instead of a traditional tortilla, it's wrapped in seaweed and rice.

Butter chicken poutine

By combining Indian flavors with Canada's unofficial national dish, butter chicken poutine was born. There are a few versions of this dish found throughout the country. The butter chicken at Toronto's Nawab's Fusion Grill features hand-cut white potato fries tossed in cornstarch, garlic and ginger. The potato slices are then double-fried before getting a splash of creamy, butter chicken sauce made up of tomato, onion, coriander, ginger and cumin. Throw in some cubed white chicken breast and cheese and you've got yourself a butter chicken poutine.
Got photos of your own fusion delights? Share them on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood for a chance to be featured on CNN.com.
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