Burgers of Tokyo

Normally, when you think about Japanese cuisine, you think about Sushi — or maybe Ramen, if you are like me. One of the things you wouldn’t expect to find in Japan is a diversity of boutique gourmet burger shops — but there is! While on my vacation in Japan, I decided to take a couple of days and scope out some of the best burger joints in Tokyo.

My favorite so far is Zats Burger Cafe. As far as I can tell, they only have a few locations around Tokyo. I’ve only eaten an the location just outside the west exit of the Yoyogi JR station, but every burger they have there is masterfully crafted and some of their recipes are quite creative. My favorite burger is shown below, the avocado cheeseburger.

A picture of the grill at Zat’s is shown below.

Watching them make the burger is a lot of fun. Their grill master and burger dresser has all the skill and precision of a sushi chef. For the avocado burger, they cut an avocado in half, remove the seed, and slap a teaspoon of butter into the hole. They then drop this onto the grill flat-face down, adding a little teriyaki sauce along the way. As the avocado grills and develops a beautifully charred surface, they are also preparing the meat and the bun to perfection. The result is a wonderfully tasty burger with a texture and character that is unforgettable.

Their signature burger, the “sasebo burger”, is also very tasty, but it has a lot going on. Perhaps my Californian background has caused me to have a disposition toward avocado burgers.

An honorable mention is Pakuch! burger. Aside from having a cute logo (see below), their burger is a veritable tower.

This burger shop is near the Shibuya station, although I don’t remember the exact directions to it — I seem to remember it is somewhat north of the station. The burger is, as you would expect, a huge mouthful. The patty meat is well done, although I feel like the burger didn’t quite have the same soul as the Zat’s burger had.

The other two standbys that I visited were Mos burger and Freshness burger. The Mos burger store that we visited had a chalkboard that talked about all the ingredients that they were using that day, along with the name of the farmer or vendor that sold the ingredients to that store. Freshness burger, in my mind, is still the OG gourmet burger chain for Tokyo, as I have been eating their burgers since the mid-90’s when I first went to Tokyo.

Above is a photo of a Freshness burger.

The Japanese do make one mean burger. All of these burgers were better than say, the In-n-out burger that is quite popular on the US west coast region. Leave it to the Japanese to improve on something as American as a fast food cheeseburger…even the MacDonald’s cheeseburger in Japan has a superior quality to those prepared in the US.

4 Responses to “Burgers of Tokyo”

  1. Brad C says:

    Don’t forget to grab a Doutor hotdog while you’re over there. We’ve come to love the little treats. Besides – you need to balance the hamburger food group with the sausage food group.

  2. Wacky Burger Guy says:

    the Mos chain sounds very similar to Five Guys Burgers And Fries, a “high end” burger chain in the Mid-Atlantic that’s expanding into the South and North. They list where their potatoes came from for their fries.

  3. m c says:

    if you’re in kita-senju, check out sunny diner, good burgers, really good fries, and monster size drinks!

  4. Robb Hawley says:

    When i worked at NOVA in Kita-Senju during 2007, the Sunny Diner was a stop for me at least once a week.. burgers were great and the staff was very friendly..good memories.