Numerous Japanese TV shows and magazines have already discovered that Arms is one of the best hamburger shops in Tokyo. Chef Takuji Iwata uses his ten-plus years of experience to cook up some mean hand-grilled burgers, all of which come with a side of thick, wedge-shaped fries. Arms’ famous cheeseburger includes plentiful amounts of melted cheese atop a crunchy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside patty with crisp lettuce and housemade sauce. With 15 types of burgers and 11 sandwiches, Arms offers up something for everyone, including vegetarians. Its location right next to Yoyogi Park entices both locals and regulars who come from the suburbs to enjoy a juicy one in Arms’ warm, country house-like interior. The latest menu addition—a seasonal burger that will change every two months—allows even longtime customers to venture into new territory. For those looking for a picnic feast (or just a chance to be lazy), Arms’ takeout- and delivery-only location on the other side of the park lets fans of the restaurant enjoy their burgers and sandwiches alfresco or at home. Party platters of all your favorites are also available; call the takeout and delivery location for details and reservations.
● Park Side Shop: 5-64-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3466-5970. Open Tue-Sun 11am-11pm, closed Mon (except hols). Nearest stn: Yoyogi Koen.
● Takeout & Delivery: 1-9-21 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3466-5974. Open daily 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Yoyogi Koen. http://meturl.com/arms
AS Classics Diner
Stopping by AS Classics Diner, tucked away in the suburbs near Komazawa Olympic Park, is like hopping on a shuttle back in time to ’60s-era America. Besides the retro interior, the menu boasts 19 varieties of burgers, including such popular items as the Loco burger (topped with avocado, fried egg and secret sauce); the Baked Apple burger (garnished with an apple cooked in cinnamon and Calvados cider); the Hot Mexican burger (with salsa and avocado); and the ASC Special “Hot Rod” burger (smothered in cheese, fried egg, avocado, home-cured bacon and chili). And of course, all the burgers come with a pile of delicious fries. What really sets this diner apart, though, is the focus on freshness. The patties are made with Australian beef and topped with the freshest vegetables, and the housemade buns use all-natural yeast. If you’re not in the mood for a burger, AS Classics Diner also offers burritos (takeout/delivery only), baby back ribs, salads and great coffee drinks, plus 15 kinds of sandwiches like smoked turkey and cheese (¥1,155), roast beef (¥1,050) and avocado (¥997), on your choice of bread. The outdoor seating area is popular with dog owners, and a delivery service is available 10am-6pm.
1F Orion Komazawa Bldg, 5-9-22 Yagumo, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-5701-5033. Open Wed-Mon 9am-11pm, closed Tue. Nearest stn: Komazawa Daigaku or Toritsu Daigaku. www.asclassics.com
Owner-chef Takeshi Sato had never given the humble hamburger a second thought before he began his apprenticeship at Tokyo’s famed Firehouse. But he’s certainly a fast learner: just a few years later, he’s creating gourmet masterpieces at Akasaka’s Authentic. From simple cheeseburgers to the monstrous Authentic burger—a mad combination of three beef patties layered with chili, egg, cheese and bacon—Sato personally crafts each sandwich into that perfect balance of crispy toasted bun and juicy, 100 percent beefy goodness. Not to be missed are the bacon cheeseburger, with three thick strips of bacon that are double-fried to an exquisite crunchiness, and the original broccoli cheeseburger, featuring a patty piled high with sautéed broccoli florets and drizzled with Monterey Jack cheese. Five fresh and healthful deli-style sandwiches are available for those looking for something a little different. While the queue is often out the door during lunch on weekdays, Authentic really shines at night—with a perky ska soundtrack and playful university-like atmosphere, it’s a funky and relaxing spot to grab a burger and a beer on the way home.
2-18-19 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3505-8584. Open Mon-Fri 11am-10:30pm (LO 10pm), Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-8:30pm (LO 8pm). Closed during New Year and Fuji Rock Festival. Nearest stn: Akasaka.
Situated on a quiet backstreet between bustling Shibuya and upmarket Aoyama, Beacon is a bastion of fine dining in a centrally located neighborhood. And the Beacon burger—made from freshly ground beef, hand-shaped and grilled to order—is undoubtedly one of Tokyo’s best gourmet burgers. It comes served on a housemade brioche-style bun garnished with lettuce, tomato, red onion and crisp natural-cut fries, with Heinz ketchup and a weekly special sauce on the side. For an extra kick, you can add toppings like real red cheddar, smoky American bacon and ripe avocado. The Beacon burger is available at lunch every day, at the bar every evening, or you can stop by on Sundays for the “Burgers & Barbecue Night” promotion, featuring an expanded burger menu and lots of good barbecue. Choose from different sizes and toppings, plus a variety of unusual fries and side dishes. A fantastic list of Zinfandel wines, all priced at ¥4,000, provides the ideal complement to a gourmet burger. Children are always welcome at Beacon’s weekly burger and barbecue evenings, which makes this restaurant the perfect place to bring the whole family for a casual Sunday dinner.
1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-6418-0077. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-11pm (LO 10pm), Sun & hols 11:30am-10pm (LO 9pm). Nearest stn: Omotesando or Shibuya. www.tyharborbrewing.co.jp/restaurants/beacon_e.html
While the maze of narrow alleys under the tracks around Yurakucho station may be known as a haven for izakaya-seeking salarymen, the newly opened Beat Diner is starting to change all that. The restaurant offers up some mean burgers in a funky, red-brick hideaway reminiscent of a New York or Chicago eatery. These sandwiches give new meaning to the term “smash a burger”—some stand over 16cm tall, packing in layers of 100 percent Aussie beef patties, fresh veggies and cheeses between two chewy, slightly sweet buns. Try an old favorite like the bacon cheeseburger (¥1,150), or get down to business with the 14cm-tall B.E.A.T. burger (¥1,400), topped with bacon, eggs, avocado and tomato. If scarfing that down doesn’t sound like enough of a challenge, the 16cm-tall Beat Devil burger (¥1,800) comes with double patties topped with ham, habanero peppers and an ultra-spicy sauce. Come in for a burger at lunchtime, but with cocktails starting at ¥380 and beers also at ¥380, you’ll definitely want to stop by for some after-work drinks on the cheap at a place you can be sure won’t pull any surprises when you look at your wallet the next day. All-you-can-drink courses are also available for groups, and the whole restaurant can be rented out for parties and events.
2-1-13 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3580-7510. Open Mon-Thu Sat 11am-11pm, Fri 11am-2am, Sun 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Hibiya, exit A4 or Yurakucho.
Located in the heart of Ginza, Burger 5 is a place where customers can relax and enjoy a space that encourages free thinking and creativity. The motto here is “Simple is the Best”—patties are made with 100 percent beef seasoned only with rock salt and black pepper, which allows customers to enjoy burgers with an authentic taste. Burger 5 is perfect no matter how small or large your appetite for red meat may be, and diners are free to choose the quantity of beef used in their patty. Big eaters will want to order the Manhattan (¥1,800), which features three beef patties (totaling over 450 grams), also available topped with three slices of cheese (¥1,950). Other popular burgers include the Avocado Classic (¥1,100) and the Big Apple Classic (with baked apple and cinnamon, ¥1,150), and all the sandwiches are served with French fries and homemade pickles. If you’re an aspiring photographer, take note: you are welcome to display your work on the restaurant’s walls.
B1 Ginza 5, 5-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-5568-3110. Open Mon-Sat 11am-10:45pm, Sun & hols 11am-9:45pm. Nearest stn: Ginza, direct access via exit C1.
Enjoy fantastic burgers in a modern, New York-style interior—complete with real Seletti dinnerware—at Burger Mania, located in the upscale Shirokane area. The must-eat choice for cheese lovers is the Ultimate Blue Cheese burger (¥1,300) topped with gooey, melted Roquefort and Gorgonzola cheeses. Other menu items include the grilled chicken burger (¥1,050), the totally meatless grilled vegetable burger (¥1,050) and the irresistible classic patty melt (¥1,000). Be on the lookout for Burger Mania’s cute, hand-drawn menu inserts announcing the burger of the month—usually a culinary adventure and always worth a try. All burgers and sandwiches come with a side of French fries; at lunchtime (until 4pm), the price includes a side salad as well, and customers can upsize their fries for free. The restaurant also offers housemade pies and cakes, including a to-die-for cherry pie à la mode, plus authentic milkshakes in flavors like strawberry, chocolate and cookie cream. Toast spring on the terrace with bottled world beers starting at ¥550, and check out the fashionable young locals that have made this a Tokyo hotspot. Delivery is also available; inquire for details.
1F, 6-5-7 Shirokane, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3442-2200. Delivery orders: 03-5791-3130 or www.visite.jp. Open daily 11:30am-11pm (closed every third Mon). Nearest stn: Shirokane-Takanawa. www.burger-mania.com
Nothing says the good ol’ US of A like hotdogs in the park, and that is exactly what Aoyama establishment Doggy’s Diner is offering. The restaurant serves some of Tokyo’s most reasonablypriced—and tastiest—housemade hotdogs, right along Kita-Aoyama’s famous gingko tree-lined boulevard. Chill out on the downstairs patio, or head up to sit under the skylights and dig into one of 13 delicious dogs, like the sauerkraut-topped plain dog (¥290), the chili-cheese dog (¥650, and as close to a Coney dog as you’re going to find in Tokyo) and the Mexican dog (¥390). Foodies can feast on other American classics, including a real cheese steak sandwich (¥850) and of course the Doggy’s Diner charbroiled burger (¥1,100), available with additional toppings like cheddar cheese and pineapple from ¥100. Other highlights include meat pies, chili cheese fries, curly potatoes and onion flowers—in other words, all those indulgent comfort foods you’ve been craving. Doggy’s even serves root beer floats. The sauerkraut, sauce, sausages and pickles are all housemade, and as the name indicates, Fido is welcome on the terrace.
1-5-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3405-7009. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm (special set menu only until 2pm; LO food 9:30pm, drinks 10:30pm), Sat 11:30am-11pm (LO food 9:30pm, drinks 10:30pm), closed Sun. Dogs welcome weekdays from 2pm and all day Sat. Nearest stn: Aoyama-Itchome. www.doggysdiner.jp
Ekki Bar & Grill
Sometimes the occasion calls for something a little out-of-the-ordinary, and Ekki Bar & Grill at the Four Seasons Hotel is more than happy to provide. Here you can enjoy both classic and innovative cuisine in a relaxing yet sophisticated setting. Large windows afford a spectacular view of Tokyo station and the city below, and provide the perfect sunny spot to dine on one of the city’s best 100 percent wagyu hamburgers. Ekki’s take on the Japanese beef burger uses A5-grade domestic beef cooked on a stone grill and delicately seasoned with salt and pepper. The patty is served open-faced on a Maison Kayser bun, topped with rocket lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Unlike a typical wagyu burger, this meat is tender and juicy—which is fortunate, because Ekki grills up one hefty sandwich. For a truly gourmet flourish, the burger is served with a towering cone of thickly cut fries and fragrant truffle mayonnaise. Extras like cheddar cheese and avocado are also available if you need an even more decadent experience—but these toppings won’t be found on the menu, so be sure to ask your server. The burger’s ¥3,500 price tag may cause you to do a double-take, but sometimes a quality experience is worth a little extra green—and here, that’s definitely the case. From June 3, stop by for the Sunset Happy Hour from 5:30-9:30pm, when you can enjoy unlimited draft beer, wine and over 30 kinds of cocktails including Ekki’s original, dessert-like “spoon cocktails” (women ¥2,900, men ¥3,800).
7F Pacific Century Place, 1-11-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-5222-5810. Open daily 6:30am-10pm. Nearest stn: Tokyo, Yaesu south exit or Kyobashi, exit 5. www.fourseasons.com/marunouchi/dining/ekki_bar_grill.html
Film & Burger Icratt
A burger and a movie—it’s the classic date, right? Well, Icratt in Ebisu has actually managed to combine the two, bringing customers fine entertainment and even finer hamburgers. While chowing down, check out the daily changing lineup of indie films screened on a series of sixteen monitors spread throughout the restaurant. Some may find the dinner-theater concept a bit unusual, but then, so are the burgers. Icratt’s sandwiches are completely housemade, from patty to buns, and grilled up to mouth-watering perfection right in front of the diners. Don’t leave without trying the eponymous Icratt burger (¥1,300), featuring a juicy patty topped with rich, savory tomato sauce and sandwiched between fluffy, housemade raisin buns. For cheese lovers, the Royal with Cheese burger (¥1,250) won’t fail to satisfy. It comes topped with a total of four rich and tangy cheeses—Gruyere, Parmigiano, cream and cheddar—and served between two fragrant, cheesy buns. Dinner courses, which include burgers, are available from ¥2,800, and cinephiles will be glad to hear that Icratt is available for rental for parties and other events. So the next time you’ve got a date, shake things up and combine two classics for a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary experience.
2-25-3 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-6412-8746. Open daily 11:30am-midnight. Nearest stn: Ebisu. http://icratt.com
We’ve all ventured out to Tsukishima at one time or another, usually to partake of that soupy Tokyo imitation of okonomiyaki known as monjayaki. If you’ve ever left one of the area’s little eateries with an empty stomach after scraping at grilled batter for an hour, Furusato is for you. With over 40 years of history, Furusato may look like a classic Showa-era diner both outside and in, but they grill up some of the meanest burgers in the area. Cheese lovers will delight in the bacon (¥1,000), teriyaki (¥1,100) and avocado cheeseburgers (¥1,150), and all beef fans will want to take advantage of the weekday lunch set, where a burger with drink and dessert is only ¥1,000 (toppings extra). And we can’t forget to mention the crispy curly fries, an American favorite that’s oddly hard to come across here in Tokyo. Furusato may be slightly off the beaten path and a bit hard to find, but it’s definitely worth a trip—either before or after a monjayaki snack.
1-23-10 Tsukishima, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3531-6916. Open Tue-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun & hols 9am-4pm, closed Mon and Tue after hols. Nearest stn: Tsukishima, exit 8.
Sister shop to The Great Burger (see page 8), Gramercy Kitchen takes the peaceful, green atmosphere of its New York neighborhood namesake and transports it straight into the backstreets of Harajuku. Gramercy Kitchen is a homey yet classy little place, with blue checked bench seats and a red-and-white-tiled pizza oven warming the room from behind the wooden bar counter. Take a seat on the terrace and dig into one of their 130g Australian beef burgers, crafted with the same seasoned skill as at Great Burger, char-broiled to perfection and topped with thick slices of fresh tomato, lettuce, red onions and a dollop of mayo. Recommendations include the Spanish ham-topped avocado jamon serrano burger (¥1,350) and the mammoth double-cheeseburger (¥1,600). Alternatively, build your own burger by starting with the regular patty (¥1,000) and adding all your favorite extras (from ¥100). Gramercy does more than just burgers, boasting a lengthy menu of Italian favorites like authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, risotto and gnocchi. Be it a lively burger lunch or intimate Italian dinner, Gramercy is a hidden Harajuku spot that even seasoned Tokyo explorers will want to check out.
101 Mode S Bldg, 6-14-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3409-2018. Open daily 11:30am-11pm (LO 10:30pm). Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-Jingumae. www.the-gramercy-kitchen.com
The Great Burger
One of the essential stops on any foodie tour of Tokyo is The Great Burger. Located just off Harajuku’s trendy Cat Street, this homey restaurant attracts flocks of local students, designer types and other members of the city’s youth brigade. Like a cross between New York and random Americana, Great Burger’s atmosphere is stylish yet strangely relaxing, and lets diners focus on enjoying some of the best burgers in town. The patties here truly rank among some of Tokyo’s best: 110 grams of Aussie beef, coarsely ground and perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper then cooked to order on a sizzling teppan grill. Crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, chomping into one of these flavorful creations is something that must be experienced firsthand. Popular burgers include the classic bacon cheeseburger (¥1,250), the oozingly delicious gorgonzola burger (¥1,150) and the lamb burger (¥1,100). The sandwich menu is full of firm favorites as well, including turkey pastrami (¥1,300) and tuna melt (¥1,150). For a true taste of home, order one of Great Burger’s Super Rich Shakes (¥800). Some diners have been known to down not one, but two of these refreshing treats—and with flavors like strawberry, chocolate-banana and cookies & cream, we can’t blame them.
1F J-Cube A, 6-12-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3406-1215. Open daily 11:30am-11pm. Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-Jingumae. www.the-great-burger.com
Grill Burger Club Sasa
Grill Burger Club Sasa, located just meters from Daikanyama station, grounds the local hipster crowd by serving up real, down-to-earth hamburgers, sandwiches and hot dogs tailor-made to satisfy. Take a seat in this classic, airy restaurant and try one of their ten wagyu burgers, developed after the owner of Sasa spent a month traveling across the US and researching the essential elements of a good sandwich. Most burgers come in three sizes (80g, 100g and 125g) and all are nestled between whole-wheat buns with fresh veggies, grilled onions and relish. Popular choices include the bacon cheeseburger (¥1,250) and avocado burger (¥1,200), but if you have a chance, be sure to try the grilled mushroom burger (¥1,350)—topped with Gouda cheese and three types of mushrooms sautéed in garlic, this is always a popular selection, but quantities are limited so only a few lucky customers can enjoy it each day. Meanwhile, the four variations on the classic American club sandwich are a must for fans of the original. At night, Sasa turns from café to bar, while still grilling up the same delicious burgers, and courses are also available starting at ¥4,500. Sasa has space for strollers, too—so don’t be afraid to bring the kids!
2-21-15 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3770-1951. Open daily 11am-11pm (LO 10:30). Nearest stn: Daikanyama. www.hijiriya.co.jp
Nestled deep in the low-key yet trendy neighborhood of Sangenjaya is Harakara, a homey little burger joint that grills up hearty, classic sandwiches which are low on grease and high on taste. Owner and chef Hirotsugu Hagiwara likes to keep things simple and modest, which is why he makes just one request to customers taking their first bite out of one of his juicy creations: try it without ketchup and mustard first. If you relish the tang of condiments on your burgers, this may seem a difficult transition, but these 150g patties made with New Zealand beef are seasoned so expertly—with all-natural Shikoku salt and pepper—that they don’t need any help in the taste department. The avocado (¥1,050) and pineapple (¥950) burgers are classic, while diners with insatiable appetites and bottomless stomachs should go for one of the enormous triple burgers (¥1,450). The menu also includes such Japanese touches as Karuizawa pickles and chowder made with local clams. On a sunny day, head for the patio for a side of people-watching with your lunch.
2-16-8 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-6323-1760. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-4:30pm (LO 4pm), Tue-Fri 6:30-10pm (LO 9:30pm), Sat 11:30am-10pm (LO 9:30), Sun 11:30am-8pm (LO 7:30pm). Nearest stn: Sangenjaya. http://ameblo.jp/hagisann
Tokyo’s gourmet burger boom can be traced to the opening of the first Homework’s restaurant. This burger shop bases its food around the “3 H” policy: healthy, hearty and homey. The patties are made of charcoal-grilled 100 percent beef, served on either graham or white bread baked specially for Homework’s. Popular items include the 150g burger accented with sharp Italian blue cheese (¥1,550), as well as several vegetarian options, like the Golden Veggie burger (¥1,000) made with soybeans and pecans, and the fresh, entirely meat-free falafel burger (¥1,000). This year also saw some new additions to the menu, including Homework’s “sticky mochi buns,” a softer, fluffier rice flour alternative to their traditional graham buns. Interested parties should definitely give them a try! Besides the two Homework’s branches in Hiroo and Azabu-Juban, the parent company also operates the popular The Pantry delis in Roppongi and Marunouchi. Delivery is available from all four eateries for orders over ¥2,000.
● Hiroo: 5-1-20 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3444-4560. Azabu-Juban: 1-5-8 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3405-9884. Both open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun & hols 11am-6pm.
● Pantry Roppongi Hills: 03-5786-9861. The Pantry Marunouchi: 03-5221-8666. www.homeworks-1.com
There’s not a lot in the way of burger fare in Ebisu, but that’s something American eatery Hummingbirds’hill is trying to change. Opened in September 2009, this sophisticated yet casual restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows and stylish decor from New Mexico, with an open kitchen and bar that keeps the room warm and lively. But Hummingbirds’ is about more than just looks. The menu features a wide range of comfort food favorites including seafood gumbo (¥980), US rib-eye steak (8oz, ¥2,600) and housemade Mexican chocolate fudge cake (¥550). Their charcoal-grilled burgers are the undisputed stars of the kitchen, made with 100 percent beef coarsely ground for a rich, chunky texture and served with a variety of classic toppings. Try the bacon cheeseburger (¥1,300), topped with thick slices of housemade bacon; the Hungry Hills burger (¥1,800), featuring double meat patties and slices of Monterey Jack cheese; or build your own starting with the plain burger (¥1,000) and adding toppings from there. Be sure to devote a few minutes to the beer menu, which features American craft brews including Brooklyn Lager and Anchor Porter (both ¥850). Hummingbirds’ also offers secluded terrace seating where diners can bask in the afternoon rays, shielded from the street by a rustic wooden wall.
1-16-11 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-6412-8989. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-11:30pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Ebisu. www.hummingbirdshill.com
J.S. Burgers Café
The concept of a “burger café” may sound like a purely Japanese idea, but the folks at J.S. Burgers Café in Shinjuku take their craft seriously, offering up hefty 100 percent Australian beef patties in natural yeast buns, topped with garden-fresh vegetables. While the avocado burger (¥1,080) ranks as the most popular sandwich, the menu also features classics like the American bacon cheeseburger (¥1,180) as well as unique items like the salsa fish burger (¥900)—a total of eight burgers in all, plus three kinds of hot dogs and a seasonal menu that changes every two months. A veggie burger (¥900) is also available and extra toppings can be added from ¥100. The “café” aspect of J.S. Burgers comes into play with the relaxed, open interior; even people who aren’t into burgers will feel equally at home with a cup of coffee and something off the dessert menu. Terrace seating is available rain or shine, offering a peaceful oasis for relaxing and people-watching above the chaotic hustle and bustle of Shinjuku. It just goes to show that if done right, the fusion of burgers with café style isn’t all that strange after all—and J.S. Burgers definitely gets it right. It’s Japanese concept meets American taste, and when mixing the best of both worlds works this well, why not?
3F, 4-1-7 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-5367-0185. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-10:30pm (LO 10pm), Sat-Sun & hols 11am-9:30pm (LO 9pm). www.jsb-cafe.jp
This light and airy eatery located directly behind Mori Tower bills itself as a “bistro and diner”—and doesn’t disappoint. With a familiar list of both French and American favorites in a casual and friendly atmosphere, Lauderdale is the place to come when you’ve got an insatiable hankering for buttermilk pancakes or sticky-sweet pork ribs. The Untitled Beef burger (¥1,400) features a thick, all-beef patty that won’t fail to satisfy, served in the classic American style with thick-cut tomatoes, pickle and onion slices, and nestled next to a pile of piping hot fries. For just ¥150, top your burger with extras such as avocado and chili con carne. Variety is the spice of life at Lauderdale, though, and those not in the mood for a burger should be sure to check out the baked-to-order soufflés (from ¥650), falafel (¥850) and duck leg confit (¥1,800). To seal the deal, Lauderdale offers bottomless coffee during its weekend brunch, the ideal accompaniment to a plate of eggs Benedict (¥1,800) or a Floridian omelet (¥1,700). Now that spring is here, snag a spot on the terrace for an extra-leisurely dining experience.
Roppongi Hills, Keyakizaka Dori, 6-15-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3405-5533. Open daily 7am-11pm (brunch Sat-Sun 8am-4pm). Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.lauderdale.co.jp
Madosh CafE AVOCADO SHOP
Tucked away in the quiet backstreets between Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando lies a place that’s a dream come true for any lover of that creamy green fruit from the New World. Madosh Café is one of Tokyo’s few shrines to the avocado; in this homey little space, chef Shunsuke Satoh serves up everything from classic guacamole to avocado and shrimp paella. Like the unusual nature of the restaurant itself, Madosh has taken an innovative approach on its first foray into the burger world, grinding up 100 percent Mangalica pork into fragrant and juicy patties and serving them atop fluffy buns with, of course, generous scoops of that green goddess. For the veggie lovers out there, a no-meat, pure avocado “burger” is also available. Other particularly mouth-watering selections include the deep-fried avocado- and mozzarella-wrapped prosciutto (¥780) and the chicken and avocado white wine stew (¥680). Madosh isn’t only an avocado paradise, though—Satoh is an avid fan of everything from Detroit techno to bossa nova, and regularly opens his lounge up for sets by local DJs and musicians. The space can also be rented for parties of 20 people or more; take advantage of the DJ booth and three analog turntables, and heat up your next event with all-you-can-drink avocado-packed courses from ¥5,000.
5-28-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3400-1188. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm and 6-10pm, Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun & hols 11:30am-10pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae or Shibuya. www.mado.in
Old Fashion Burger & Bar Kahala
You might assume the market for Hawaiian burgers in the Tokyo area is already covered, but Yokohama’s Old Fashion Burger & Bar Kahala is ready to heat up the competition. Located in residential Kohoku Newtown, Kahala offers up standard Hawaiian favorites alongside some massively delicious burgers. The perfectly seasoned, 160g patty is grilled slightly crispy on the outside and mouthwateringly juicy on the inside, making this one burger that just begs to be eaten without those globs of ketchup and mustard. The freshly baked buns, accented with a slab of mayonnaise butter, provide a slightly sweet and fluffy cradle for the patty. Start with a classic (¥1,100) and build your own burger with toppings like avocado, cheddar cheese, bacon, salsa and pineapple, or try it with a dollop of housemade teriyaki sauce. The mountainous Kahala Special burger (¥1,650) is worth a challenge if you’ve got the appetite of an entire rugby team, or take things easy with one of the restaurant’s more conventional choices. A veggie burger is also available for non-carnivores, and all sandwiches are offered in regular and small sizes. Kid-friendly favorites abound, and the casual location and wide terrace make Kahala a great place to enjoy the fantastic spring breezes with the family.
1F North Port Mall, 1-25-1 Nakagawa-Chuo, Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-532-4001. Open daily 10am-2am. Nearest stn: Center-Kita (Yokohama Green and Blue lines). http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e851400
MLB CafE Tokyo
You don’t need to be a baseball fanatic to enjoy MLB Café Tokyo’s spacious and sophisticated interior. In fact, if it weren’t for the authentic MLB memorabilia decorating the walls and games being played on the main dining room’s 360-degree projection monitors, you’d hardly know this was a baseball-themed restaurant at all. But despite the grand interior, Ebisu’s MLB Café Tokyo is a great place to relax with friends over a meal or a few beers while watching the big game, be it baseball, soccer or rugby. The food lives up to its American roots, with favorites like spicy chili dogs and crab cakes. Manager and chef Massa’s pride and joy is the MLB Café Tokyo Original Smoked burger (¥1,580), a home run of a hamburger featuring a 150g, 100 percent US beef patty, double-smoked and piled high with cheese, smoked bacon and sautéed onions and served with the traditional lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. For those in search of something more Japanese, a 100 percent wagyu burger (¥1,900) is also available, but we recommend heading for the all-American favorite. Wash down all that beef with a Yebisu beer (this is Ebisu, after all), or one of MLB Café Tokyo’s many Californian wines. Reservations for parties and other events are always welcome, so inquire for details.
4-19-19 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3448-8900. 1F open Mon-Fri 11am-midnight, 2F & 3F open Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm and 6pm-midnight. Open Sat-Sun & hols various times; call for more info. Nearest stn: Ebisu. www.mlbcafe.jp
Place in the Sun
Some may wonder about choosing a name like this for a restaurant located near the leafy green groves of Shiba Koen. But Place in the Sun is truly an ideal spot to stop off during a day in the park or for lunch on a, well, bright and sunny day. Having honed their skills in the sandwich arena, the staff here kept that same devotion to quality when numerous customer requests prompted them to roll out their own line of healthy, gourmet burgers. Each hamburger is expertly stacked with the freshest veggies and toppings to produce a sandwich that’s hearty without being overly meaty. The 100 percent wagyu beef used in their patties comes from a butcher shop run by a Michelin-starred sukiyaki restaurateur, and vegetables are purchased daily to ensure maximum freshness. Burgers range from the conventional yet always delicious sautéed onion burger (¥1,180) to the adventurous mango Genovese burger (¥1,280). The sandwiches—on toasted bread and piled high with vegetables—should definitely not be ignored, and vegetarian sandwiches are also available. Those who can’t be bothered to move from their own sunny spot can take advantage of the delivery service to grab some healthy eats.
2-20-3 Shiba, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3451-2133. Open Mon-Fri 11am-10pm (LO 9pm), Sat 11am-6pm (LO 5pm), closed Sun. Nearest stn: Shiba-Koen, exit A1. www.placeinthesun.jp
There are many reasons to choose Roti for your next evening out—not least of which are the delectably thick and juicy burgers, voted the best in Aoyama/Roppongi by a popular Friday evening Fuji TV show. Roti recently expanded its burger menu, which now boasts over ten mouth-watering varieties like the blue cheese burger (¥1,800), glazed in a rich red wine sauce with grilled onions and horseradish cream. Or try the vegetarian burger (¥1,400), featuring a patty made from brown rice, veggies and wheat grains. The highlight of the spring menu is Roti’s new, healthy burger bowl, a crisp, fresh salad topped with a char-grilled beef patty (¥1,800)—perfect for those who want all of the protein-derived energy without the carb-heavy bread and fries. The bowls are available with vegetarian, swordfish or turkey patties as well, and toppings like avocado and bacon can be added for ¥200 each.
6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5785-3671. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-5pm, brunch Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-5pm, dinner daily 6-11pm (LO 10pm, Fri 10:30pm). Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.roti.jp
For a real taste of retro Tokyo—and the taste of a real burger—head down to the classic old school town of Kita-Senju and check out Sunny Diner. Rumor has it that the owner set out to travel the world at the ripe age of 25 and so loved the people he met on his journey that he began the restaurant as a way to express his appreciation to foreigners passing through Tokyo. He’s certainly done us a favor, offering up 100 percent wagyu burgers piled high with fresh veggies atop buns produced especially for the diner. Combo sets are certainly reasonably priced, starting with the Sunny Burger Combo (¥880) and hitting all the bases with cheese, bacon and avocado combos. Drinks are included with each set until 3pm and every burger order is accompanied by a massive “American size” pile of piping hot fries. It’s enough to make any expat sniffle with memories of the good old days. Even if Kita-Senju is a bit out of the way, a visit to Sunny Diner is the perfect excuse to see this nostalgic area of the city while indulging in a little nostalgia trip of your own.
● 3-45 Senju, Adachi-ku. Tel: 03-3888-3211. Open daily 11:30am-midnight (LO 11pm). Nearest stn: Kita-Senju.
● 8F Kitasenju Lumine, 42-2 Senju-Asahicho, Adachi-ku. Tel: 03-5284-3211. Open daily 11am-10pm (LO 9:30pm). Nearest stn: Kita-Senju.
Frequent pub-goers know all the Shibuya watering holes—after all, we practically live there! And the brand new Tap Borrow, opened in October last year, is definitely one establishment to mark on your map, especially if you’re bored with trawling the same old spots and fancy a new home. Located just 30 seconds from the station, this classy second-floor watering hole is a great place to grab some real pub grub for lunch or hang up your hat and down a few beers after work. One menu item you should be sure to reach for is the unique Ore burger, a fork-and-knife creation that comes with a grilled rice “bun” instead of bread. The bar is run by the owner of the Japanese-style “hamburg” shop below, so needless to say the folks at Tap Borrow know a lot about meat. Their answer to the burger craze is a juicy yet firm cheeseburger that doesn’t fall apart in your hands like so many other so-called gourmet creations. Topped with cabbage, mushrooms, cheese and a special sauce, and accompanied by a veritable mountain of fries, this mammoth meal is only ¥980 for lunch and ¥1,000 for dinner. Also not to be missed are the fish and chips (¥1,200), without a doubt the biggest and best in Tokyo.
2F Wada Bldg, 3-18-5 Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3486-8141. Open Mon-Thu 11am-3pm and 5pm-1am (LO midnight), Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-4am (LO 3am), Sat 4pm-4am (LO 3am), Sun 4pm-11pm (LO 10:30pm). Nearest stn: Shibuya, east exit. www.tapborrow.jp
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
Ranked Hawaii’s number one burger joint for six years running, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers has begun its Asian invasion with Tokyo, bringing that same great American dining experience to the streets of Harajuku. “Authentic” is the first word that comes to mind when describing these Hawaiian favorites, but it’s hard to say any more about them without drooling all over our keyboards. With the smallest size weighing in at 5oz (140g), these 100 percent beef patties are big and grilled to order with special seasonings, piled high with the classic lettuce, tomato and onion combo, and finished off with Teddy’s original secret sauce. All burgers are available in three hefty sizes—5, 7 and 9 ounces—cradled between fluffy-yet-firm toasted buns that are plenty big enough to hold in all that meaty goodness. To personalize your burger, add toppings like avocado, grilled onions, blue cheese, pastrami or jalapeño peppers. For the extra-ravenous, we recommend the Monster Double burger, containing two patties of your chosen size, or a combo meal with a mountain of extra crispy fries and a drink. The location, right on Meiji-Dori just minutes from the Harajuku crossing, makes this a can’t-be-beat spot for a quick lunch between bouts of shopping or street photography. If you’re going to travel “big America,” skip the fast food joints and start your journey here.
2F Miyazaki Bldg, 6-28-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5774-2288. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9:30pm (LO 9pm), Sat 11am-10pm (LO 9:30pm), Sun 11am-8:30pm (LO 9pm). Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae.
The char-broiled cheeseburgers at T.G.I. Friday’s (¥1,580), made from 200 grams of 100 percent pure ground beef, are literally world famous. Diners know what to expect from these tried-and-true burgers: thick and juicy, served with fresh lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle slices, with a side of Friday’s famous seasoned fries. Stick with the classic recipe or mix things up and try the bacon cheeseburger (bacon, cheddar cheese, onion rings, tomatoes, lettuce), the southwest burger (pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, sliced jalapeño, chili sauce, and a side of guacamole) or the Jack Daniel’s burger (bacon, mozzarella cheese, Jack Daniel’s sauce)—all for just ¥1,680. The Jack Daniel’s burger is also available as an “Ultimate,” i.e. served up with an extra beef patty and fried Cajun onion rings. And of course, extra toppings can be added to any burger as you like. Friday’s has 900 branches in more than 60 countries, including eight in Tokyo and Yokohama.
● Machida (042-710-1161)
● Roppongi (03-5412-7555)
● Shibuya Jinnan (03-5459-3555)
● Shinagawa Le Meridien Pacific Hotel (03-5798-2755)
● Ueno Chuo Dori (03-5807-9655)
● Sakuragicho MM21 Cross Gate (045-222-0691)
● Yokohama Nishiguchi (045-290-4755)
● Yokosuka (046-820-6887).