July 30, 2012

Burgers in Japan

When it comes to western foods, while Korea is known for its pizza, Japan goes crazy for hamburgers. American-style diners and fast food chains are ubiquitous in Japan, with the humble hamburger representing all that is hip, young and cool. Something that surprised me when I first came to Japan was that Burger King and McDonald's don't have the same negative image here as they do back home. Going to these places is a much more (dare I say?) classy experience; staff are impeccably dressed and even wear posh little berets, portion sizes are more ladylike than the western counterparts, and the overall atmosphere resembles a pleasant cafe more than a greasy fast food joint.

That said, I've hardly ever been to BK and McD's while I've been in Japan. Instead, I have discovered two of Japan's homegrown burger chains, MOS Burger and Freshness Burger.
MOS Burger in Kandai-mae
MOS Burger. Don't be put off by the slightly fungal sounding name. It is sensational. There is a MOS Burger three minutes away from our apartment, and it became a tradition to have it for lunch every Saturday. I always get a W Hamburger (double hamburger, because 'W' in a Japanese accent sounds like 'double'), fries, and a strawberry milkshake. The strawberry milkshake is probably my favourite thing on the menu, because it is delicious and provides me with the illusion that I am getting my intake of dairy and fruit, two things that are severely lacking from my Japanese diet. There are lots of interesting things on the menu I have not dared to try yet, such as a rice burger (flattened rice balls instead of buns), and a naan bread with spicy Mexican toppings.
Freshness Burger in Amerika-mura
Freshness Burger is a teeny bit on the pricier side, but is a truly gourmet burger experience. They have all the classic options - cheeseburgers, hamburgers - and then some slightly more unique combinations, such as the Salsa Burger or Spam Burger. I like the restaurant's namesake 'Freshness Burger', which is a simple hamburger with a tomato slice, red onion and sauces, and the buns taste like they are made from sweet potato or something. Healthy (sort of) and very fresh indeed. The cold drinks here are great too; lots of homemade options, with lemonade freshly squeezed in front of you, and the Mojito Ginger Ale contains fresh mint.
MOS Burger meal
As always in Japan, presentation is key, and just because it's a burger joint doesn't mean they're about to start slacking off. At both MOS Burger and Freshness Burger, each item of food comes wrapped neatly in a little paper bag, placed carefully in a wicker basket. Ultimate fast food experience.


  1. Mos Burger opened in Brisbane recently but I don't think it's as good as the original. Something indefinable was lacking.

    1. Wow, it's really going global! Shame about the taste though... maybe different ingredients?

  2. Ask for a rice burger without the rice. Oh wait, is that onion?

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