The signs outside of The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar and Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando Resort are beacons for the traveller looking to break free from the traditional, to have a battle between the left and the right side of your brain: A fish with a saddle—or hamburgers and sushi, appropriately named Burgushi®, and grown men covered in blue paint.
Our minds naturally want to put things into pretty little boxes, so things make sense. Mine put both The Cowfish and Blue Man Group into a group called: “Weird Things.”
Burgers don’t go with sushi. And grown men don’t wear blue face paint, let alone drum in paint—and at times seem to take great joy in it. And they certainly don’t, during an hour and 45 minutes, paid performance, catch objects in their mouths, while not speaking a single word. That would be weird.
Merriam-Webster defines weird as “of strange or extraordinary character; odd, fantastic.” Now, neatly classified in the box marked Weird, the left side of my brain was also surprised when the right side of my brain said that both were odd but surprisingly fantastic.
Knocking down the wall: Funny and weird and in your face
Spoiler alert: If the left side of your brain usually wins in the battle with the right side, now is the time to look away. Psst to the left side of your brain: the stories end up with a lot of success, based on the weirdness, so you may want to look up, for just a moment from your rule book, and give it a read.
The origins of the weirdness
“Burgushi was born by bringing down the wall!” says Marcus Hall, Co-Founder of The Cowfish.
Hall, along with fellow co-founder of The Cowfish, Alan Springate, were running a sushi restaurant called eeZ Fusion Sushi, in a Charlotte suburb. As eeZ grew, they sought out a second location in Charlotte, but the space they found wasn’t large enough.
At the time, Springate was running a gourmet burger joint next door to the space, “and that’s when he proposed knocking down the wall and combining the two restaurants,” explains Hall.
“I immediately called him an idiot,” says, Hall. “But the more we talked about it, the more we knew it made sense — we had the burgers, and we had the sushi, so why not combine them?”
“Sushi and burgers were each powerful restaurant segments at the time, so the idea of serving them both under the same roof started making sense,” adds Springate. “Being the first sushi burger bar would allow us a lot of freedom and creativity with the look of the restaurant and its food that we also found extremely exciting.“
“Once we committed to such a seemingly crazy idea, we knew we wanted something that was funny and weird and in your face,“ adds Hall.
Taking the chance on weird worked for them. Universal Orlando Resorts worked closely with The Cowfish founders, Marcus Hall and Alan Springate, to bring this one-of-a-kind dining concept to Universal CityWalk. Guests visiting this eclectic, three-story restaurant can enjoy an innovative menu made from scratch with the freshest ingredients, outdoor seating with incredible views of CityWalk, colourful décor and custom artwork, vibrant music and more.
How I embraced weird at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
I ordered the Cowfish Bento Box: A mini-burger with American cheese, pickles and chopped red onions, sweet potato fries, Thai cucumbers, edamame–and, wait for it–spicy tuna sushi rolls. I also tried the “Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll: A combination of lobster and cucumbers, topped with seared rare, seasoned filet mignon, pan-fried portabella mushroom slices tossed in truffle oil, green onions and spicy mayo. They all sounded weird but seemed to trigger a primal instinct for my mouth to start watering, especially with the Prime Time Filet and Lobster Roll.
Blue Man has its roots in the untraditional as well. After coming up with the idea for the group, three long-time friends and entrepreneurs, Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, who could easily be described as contemporary comedians, threw all of their furniture out of the window of their living room to make room for what they needed to build the show, then added drums—making the Blue Man show the way to make drumming creative and artistic. The art was inspired by artists like Jackson Pollock, who used paint in an abstract way to express his emotions, and the 20th Century Vaudeville Players.
The group also wanted an element of the show to be primal and tribal, and realised that performing acts, unlike what anyone in the audience could do—yes, this includes catching things in their mouths–and showing imagery no one has seen before, would captivate an audience. Today, they have award-winning shows all over North America, including Boston, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, New York, as well as in Berlin. They seem to wear the weirdness, masked in innovation, splashed in gooey, grease paint quite well.
Blue Man forced me, despite my left-brain tendencies, to embrace random. Ignoring cultural norms, I soon found myself waving my hands in their air doing random Rock Concert Movements, and loosening up and laughing when they commanded the audience to do leg stretches behind their head. They managed to literally find humour in every day shit…exploring topics like plumbing and sewage backups. Perhaps that’s the point, and I’m weird for not finding the humour in life’s backups more often.
It’s no wonder Goldman, Stanton and Wink have described their show as a ‘whacked out science fair’. From what seemed to be a science lecture that could be narrated by Ben Stein, on the rods and cones in our eyes, soon turned into flashes on the screen about how our rods help us see naked people. Soon you find yourself writing a love note, asking: Dear left side of my brain, If it’s so weird, why am I laughing?
Embrace the Weird — Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar and Blue Man Group
Eat the sushi and the burger. Watch the grown men covered in blue drum in paint. The traditional, stuffy left side of your brain needs a night off.
At Blue Man, you may surprise yourself, and start dancing and shaking what they call your ‘giggle twins, second face’, ‘freckle muffin’, ‘the place where all the burritos go’, or the ‘horn section’.
At the end of our show, we passed oversized balls that looked like beach balls on steroids, through the air. What’s stranger than that? When we looked over and watched our 16-year-old and her friend, they were laughing and enjoying a show with us old-timers.
It doesn’t make sense, it’s weird! Embrace it.
- You don’t want to be late! Three people were late to our show and were greeted with a spotlight…it was funny for the audience, but I’m not sure how funny it was for them!
- Use the washroom before the show. The shows run one hour and 45 minutes, with no intermission!
- In Orlando, the Blue Man Group Theatre is located in Universal CityWalk® between the Hard Rock Cafe® and the main entrance to Universal Studios Florida®.
- If you are attending the Blue Man group show after dinner, be sure to tell your Cowfish server that you have tickets to see the show. We were a bit rushed getting to the show.
Have you embraced the weird? What did you think?
We were guests of The Cowfish, Blue Man Group, and Universal Orlando Resorts. This did not affect our review. As always, our opinions are our own.