Tucked away in a side street in Ikebukuro is a tiny New York-style eatery with gorgeous homemade burgers and an interior that is a unique slice of Americana right here in Tokyo. Most people don’t think the humble cheeseburger could ever be classed as gourmet, but visiting East Village changes that. The traditional American favorite has been revamped and upgraded as a sophisticated option, much in the same way gourmet coffee has. The price reflects the quality, but you really do get what you pay for—the beef used in the giant burgers is sirloin-quality, and the buns and toppings are clearly very fresh.
The micro kitchen sizzles with orders and there may be a wait for a table, as the tiny upstairs dining area seats only a handful of people. If you love your comfort food but are sick of chain restaurants on every corner, take a look at how fast food could (and should) be done.
There are some interesting choices on offer, from traditional burgers to more exotic and innovative combinations such as the Jamaican Jerk burger with fried egg. I decided on a chilli burger, topped with cheese and a spicy salsa sauce, and accompanied by an ice-cold root beer and a side of fries. The burger was perfectly cooked and wonderfully succulent. This combination set me back ¥1,700, but cheaper options such as the lunch set (¥1,000) are also available.
East Village is casual luxury at its best, and is a delight to visit. Everything down to the last detail has been carefully thought out, from branded napkins to the vintage American posters on the wall. After the seriously awesome food, you won’t leave here feeling hungry.