If you have read some of my blog posts, you know I enjoy food history and cooking. Being raised in a family that prefers spicy over salty, I have a particular pallet that clashes with traditional Japanese foods. What my pallet loves more than anything else is meat, especially hamburgers.
Fortunately, hamburgers are popular in Japan. Fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Freshness Burger, and Mos Burger bring small, cheap burgers to almost every corner of Japan. But this article isn’t about the shorties.
With my appetite I wanted to find gourmet burgers stacked so high that Godzilla would have a hard time chomping down. As a blogger it’s my duty to find places that aren’t your average burger shops. So grab your antacids and loosen your belt, because here are a few Tokyo burger joints that will fill those carnivorous cravings.
Brozers’ – Ningyocho
With two locations, one in Ningyocho and one in Shintomicho, Brozers’ is a great choice for burgers and sandwiches. With chicken burgers, fish burgers, hot dogs, and club sandwiches Brozers’ provides the complete vintage American diner menu. The interior of the restaurant also fills out the American diner feel; it is painted in bright red and the walls are decorated in vintage illustrations and even comic book covers!
As for the food, I sat down for lunch and had the Double Cheese Burger with a chocolate milkshake and the fries/onion rings combo. The total ran me 2,300 yen (1,650 burger + 650 milkshake), which is pretty normal for the quantity and quality that I received.
The burger itself was great as it was stacked well and didn’t fall apart while I was eating it. The fries and onion rings left a little to be desired but were easily washed down by the ice cream heavy milkshake.
When I was through, I didn’t feel like I would need dinner and actually had to waddle back to the train station. With only twelve tables (two person tables) and five seats at the bar, the line at Ningyocho can get moderately long.
Hungry Heaven – Meguro
There are two shops, Meguro and Itabashi. I went to the one in Meguro, right on the Yamanote Line. What is really interesting about this shop is that it also doubles as a Yakiniku BBQ, named GYUBIG, at dinner. It does give everything a nice BBQ smell and taste, but as a bonus, it means that you can order burgers from 11:30-17:00! Tables are nice and big, meant for parties of four to six, and the restaurant fits about forty people.
The Double Burger comes with two patties and a heaping of cheese, lettuce and condiments. It was a delicious mess that had to be eaten with hamburger paper. Hamburger paper is not unique to Japan or Hungry Heaven, but can be found in all hamburger shops here. Hamburger paper is shaped like a square bag with two adjacent sides open so you can slip your hamburger in and eat it without the juices running down your hand and pickles falling on the floor.
As an American, I was raised on hamburgers and sloppy sandwiches and can eat them like a champion, but Hungry Heaven’s Double… there was just no way to handle the tower of toppings and patties without it coming undone! The burger plus drink was 1,100 yen. The fries/onion rings combo was 250 yen.
Yokozuna Burger – Azumabashi
Yokozuna Burger is as simple as you can get. No really, it is. That’s because Yokozuna Burger is actually a butcher shop. Selling meat is their primary source of income. Here you can walk in, have a burger, and walk out with a nice cut of beef for dinner later. Get lucky and maybe you can dine inside, seeing as they only have two seats!
The burgers are great for the exact opposite reasons that make Hungry Heaven and Brozers’ great: the simplicity. While the first two restaurants stack toppings and fries, Yokozuna lets the beef do the talking.
The chef knows exactly the right time to flip and serve the minimalist burger. It’s cooked to perfection and served with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and optional cheese. If you want to take a walk around to burn off all the food, Tokyo Skytree is only a short jaunt away.
There are many different hamburger shops in and around Tokyo. You can spend months eating at different places. Unfortunately, most of the time you will encounter American chain restaurants with lines out the door (I’m looking at you Shake Shack).
Gourmet burgers are great not just for the taste but also because it becomes the buried treasure that takes wading through Tabelog and Google reviews. Sometimes I feel like the Indiana Jones of food, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Taste”.
Now if you will excuse me this is making me hungry…