Restaurants & Bars 13

Burgers in Tokyo

ninnikuramen | Dec 1, 2012 05:04 PM

Hi everyone, after a couple years of scouring the streets of Tokyo for burgers I thought I'd share a forced ranking with you all. Interested in any of your thoughts, if I've completely neglected certain gems, what is a must try next, if I've given an unfair read on any of these (most we only visited once - too many choices, new places to explore!).

Overall, my conclusion is that while many places go overboard on the bun or the lettuce and vegetables, not achieving the right balance with or focus on the meat itself, the fact that there are so many places alone indicates that the gourmet burger is alive and well in Tokyo. If anything, I think we may be missing a middle tier here - somewhere between the Freshness Burger and McDonalds and the Union Cafe or Cafe Hohokam. In the US, I'd equate this middle tier to places like Shake Shack (NYC), Five Guys, Cook Out, Wimpy's Grill (Durham, NC). Mostly take out places, usually messy, heavily focused on the meat, cheese dripping and melding, juices mixing and dripping, served in wax paper, not as cheap, processed, mass produced as McD but still mostly chains. If anyone has any thoughts on this aspect, please jump in as well, I may have just completely overlooked them !

Places visited, from most to least liked:

1. Union Café (Roppongi) - asked for medium, perfectly pink on the inside, juicy, seasoned perfectly with just salt and pepper

2. White Smoke (Azabu Juban) - made from trimmings of smoked BBQ, fell apart when eating, heavy on the salt, torn about placing this high on a burger list as it seemed closer to sausage but it was delicious

3. Cafe Hohokam (Harajuku) - great bread, nicely toasted on the outside soft on the inside, solid patty, could use slightly less lettuce (borderline salad)

4. Roti (Roppongi) - enormous stack of shoestring fries (found that a fork was most effective), had the blue cheese burger, great combination of flavors

5. Martini burger (Shinjuku) - had the right size and texture for the meat, was not overshadowed by the bun or toppings, only development point would be that it was cooked too thoroughly

6. Burger 5 (Ginza) * - solid burger, good balance of bun, toppings, and burger, cheese melds nicely with patties

7. Vibe (Mita) * - our go to burger shop, mainly due to proximity, however they season the patties nicely with salt and pepper, have a good range of extras including Frank's Red Hot

8. 7025 Franklin Ave (Gotanda) - with the atmosphere, done up like a warm French living groom, I somehow felt obligated to consume my burger with knife and fork

9. Homework's (Azabu Juban) *

10. Eat (Gaienmae) - thoroughly enjoyed the lamb burger

11. Blacow (Tokyo Station take-out) * - from the same bento stand that serves the 9,600 yen wagyu steak box; wagyu beef for burgers, including this one, comes across slightly mushy for me

12. Brozer's (Ningyocho) * - good atmosphere, burger relies too much on sauce (they cover in a BBQ like sauce)

13. Munches (Mita) * - good range of burgers, particularly appreciated their Bhut Jolokia geki-kara burger campaign; meat not quite ground enough though, occasionally had chunks of chewy, sinewy pieces

14. Bubby's (Yokohama, Tokyo Station) * - filling burgers, barely enough room left over for sampling pies

15. Kua-ainu (Marunouchi, Odaiba) * - good size to the burgers, Marunouchi location definitely better than Odaiba, both overcook

16. Arms (Yoyogi take-out) - felt like eating a salad, too heavy on the lettuce and vegetable toppings
Westpark Café (Marunouchi Building)

17. Lauderdale (Roppongi Hills) * - great bread, but it overshadows the burger itself which was not terribly memorable

18. Gotham Grill (Ebisu) - had potential, but the experience was marred by finding several chewy, sinewy portions of the burger; liked that they offered Gruyere

19. Golden Brown (Omotesando) - overly dried patties

20. One's Diner (Sendagaya) - good atmosphere, setup like a 50s US diner; soft, fresh seeming bread, however the burger itself was too grey, meat seemed processed

21. Rigoletto (Roppongi Hills)

*Multiple visits; all others once

Not tried but on the radar:

The Great Burger (Harajuku)
Beacon (Shibuya)
Burger Mania (Shirokane)
Fellows (Komazawa)
Goro's Diner (Jingumae)
Trader Vics (Kiocho)
Ekki Bar and Grill (Marunouchi)
Sunny Diner (still open?)
AS classic diner (Meguro)
Good Morning Cafe (Sendagaya)
Authentic (Akasaka)
Teddy's Bigger Burger
Baker Bounce (Roppongi Midtown)
Longboard Cafe (Odaiba)
The Beat Diner (Hibya)

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound