Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Japan - Burgers of Tokyo

A curiosity about Tokyo I wasn’t previously aware of was their love of a good burger. It’s not hugely surprising – Japan and the US probably have the most genuine post-war friendship and forgiveness of any two opposing nations, and shared a pretty phenomenal boom afterwards. And so Americana in post-war Japanese society is everywhere; the English used, the school system, even the popularity of baseball. And of course the food.

I would say the best burger I had was at Glorious Chain Café towards Jingumae, Shibuya. We were massively hungover after 4 hours of all you can drink karaoke (tequila and tonic is delicious, who knew!) and managed to haul ourselves into here.

The bacon cheeseburger (about £12) was a hangover dream. Gloopy melted cheese, proper bacon and plenty of it, and a charred, pink patty, full of flavour. The ultimate dirty burger and exactly what I needed. Here’s the money shot:

Golden Brown was an understated yet cool place in Omotesando Hills. It’s small, cosy and takes its burgers seriously.

It wasn’t quite as good though. It came out automatically medium-well (whereas Glorious had asked how I wanted it) and the patty was a little slim. Good brioche bun, but anaemic, overly salted fries. Also about £12.

Ho Ho Kum is an upstairs Native American themed place in northern Harajuku. They have a great selection of beers, and do heaps of burgers, in addition to other food. They’re owned by The Great Burger, who have two outlets in the area.

The burger here was juicy, oily and perfectly satisfying, but was not as flavoursome as I had hoped, or indeed as it looks. The bun was a tad dry, and the fries were quite disappointing too. All for about £10. This Yokohama brewed US-style pale ale was about £7!

You find Hawaiian restaurants everywhere too, which is notable considering Pearl Harbor (sic). Kua Aina burgers which we have in London, have a couple of branches too. These groovy Hawaiian micro-brews I found everywhere were particularly delicious:

And finally…for some reason, the Japanese seem to love these retro steak burgers, which I can only recall frozen courtesy of Bird’s Eye or Findus as part of a kids’ tea. However, they serve them with a soy sauce, rice and all the traditional accompaniments. Quite odd – so of course I had to try one:

That was in Kyoto, and bloody tasty actually.

We saw loads more burger joints, especially in the youth centric areas of Shibuya and Harajuku, but eating more probably would have been a bit excessive considering where we were. Metropolis magazine (a quality, upmarket TNT) had a burger special while we were there, which highlighted many more places serious about their burgers.

I’m glad to have experienced a few solid burgers and some Japanese Americana. I was impressed with the thought given to the cheese, bacon and especially buns, but the fries were lagging and McDonalds-y. Not a triple cooked chip in sight…


  1. Oh how curious! Good to know though and shall note your recommendations for our October visit in case we have a hankering for some burger action!

  2. It sure looks yummy.

  3. Kavey - certainly useful if you need a burger hit. Mainly around Shibuya/Harajuku/Omotesando.

    Naoto - thanks!

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