Japanese food is well loved around the world, but one thing that isn’t known by most people wanting to travel to Japan is that cuisines of other countries are really well done here, too. In fact, there’s one quintessentially American dish that Japanese restaurants do just as well if not better than their American counterparts: the classic hamburger!
Good burgers are not hard to find in Tokyo. There are many chains and small restaurants that specialize in burgers from the most gourmet-style burgers to ones with the ground beef on a bun with very little frills. For travelers that don’t want to lose a sense of home, there are many American chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s available throughout the city. In fact, there are six McDonald’s located in the famous Akihabara district alone! There are also a few Japanese chains unique to Japan and definitely worth the time to visit: Freshness Burger, MOS burger, and Lotteria.
Many of these burger chains also tend to have special gimmick hamburgers to try every month. Some of them can range from the good, but not exciting, to totally unusual blends that can tend to surprise. For example, I came across a sort of hot dog sausage burger at Mosburger, which ended up as a coiled sausage link inside a bun and covered in marinara tomato sauce. The idea seemed stranger than how it tasted though, which was reasonable to anyone who has ever had a hot dog with sweet tomato sauce on it. On the other hand, I once encountered a “keema curry” burger with the curry and fried pea pods on the burger, which was not completely good tasting, but wasn’t bad either. Some ingredients that Americans once found unusual on burgers, however, can easily be found in some of the larger chains that specialize in gourmet takes. Egg, which was once found bizarre to include in a hamburger but was normal to find in some Japanese burger choices, can now be found in a few places in the United States.
Some areas of Japan also have their own take on burgers. The Sasebo Burger, which comes from Sasebo in Kyushu, is one such example. American military stationed at the Sasebo air base used to enjoy this burger, and is a staple of unique Kyushu cuisine. The Sasebo burger that I tried was good, but the burger itself tasted a little different from the usual flavor I’m used to knowing. Of course, Okinawa also has its own style of burger, but as of this writing, I haven’t yet experienced it.
Although I am still exploring the world of hamburgers in Japan, I have found a few that are worthy of mention and have delighted my senses with their delicious taste. Kua’aina is inspired by Hawaii and has a great burger. Brozers, with two locations in Chuo City, have an amazing burger which people travel to experience from around the world. West Park Café also serves an incredibly good burger. There are many other places I have yet to experience, so hopefully I can visit them in the future.
In short, Japan is a surprising paradise for the burger lover. The care and technique given to the quintessentially American sandwich is surprising, and the result is some of the most delicious burgers you will ever find.