Japanese food is very good; it’s delicious and normally pretty healthy. Having said that, I do miss decent beef! Japanese beef is amazing – it’s normally served as quite a small steak, cut with a large degree of fatty marbling, which makes it melt in the mouth but also incredibly rich, and often staggeringly expensive. Something which is much more accesible is a burger, and I’ve started keeping an eye out for gourmet burger places as a treat.
Tokyo has the usual array of fast-food burger places, with Western chains such as McDonalds alongside domestic brands like Mos Burger.
These places are okay when there’s nothing else on offer, but one of the great things about Tokyo is that there is always something else on offer! Having said that, McDonalds in Japan is actually somewhere that you’d possibly want to visit as the food is all cooked to order and the restaurants are friendly and clean. The last time I was there, I was presented with my Big Mac and all four members of staff solemnly bowed to me. When I went upstairs to find a seat I discovered that just like the UK, the place was filled with gangs of teenagers, however in Japan they were all sitting doing their homework in silence!
In my neighbourhood of Azabu Juban I have found a great cafe called Homeworks, which makes excellent burgers. My favourite is their sautéed onion burger, served with cheddar cheese and wasabi mayonaise, they even bake the buns themselves. I thought this was great, until I recently stumbled upon a restaurant called Hungry Heaven!
This place is only a burger joint by day, and at night it turns into a barbecue-your-own-meat-at-your-table restaurant, with a possible pirate theme (although that may have just been the sign they use at night – a skull eating a severed arm). The burgers here were huge, and delicious and apparently impossible to eat, as they had a huge skewers running through them. Our waiter instructed us to remove the skewers and place our burgers into waterproof paper bags, provided for the purpose, which meant you could eat these monstrosities without getting them all over your clothes or the table!
I’m very happy to have discovered a chain of superior burger places that are nowhere near my house, as not only does it mean that I can’t eat them very often, but knowing they are out there means I’m less inclined to visit my now-inferior, local gourmet offering.