It’s International Cheeseburger Day on September 18, so of course we’ve got burgers on our mind. Below are five of the best ones we’ve eaten in Tokyo this year – and even though they aren’t all technically cheeseburgers, they’re all pretty darn delicious. ‘Nuff said.
Shack Burger at Shake Shack
Since its establishment last November, Shake Shack has been serving up a storm – the launch of its second outlet a mere five months following its debut, with a third in its wake. We’ve queued, tasted, and been back for more. Relying on heat and the slow drift of time, burger pucks are smashed into juicy, sublime submission, their meat caramelizing like hickory-smoked bacon on a fry; leeching fat adding fuel to the fire. Potato rolls from Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe are toasted on the inside so they bronze like French toast, turning crisp and buttery, before the chefs slap on American cheese, juicy tomato slices, shreds of lettuce, and of course, the iconic secret Shack sauce. Cradled in Shake Shack’s signature waxed paper, the Shack burger is simplicity at its best.
Famous Cherry Burger at Burger Mania
It is no secret that cherries and cream cheese are a match made in heaven, but who would’ve thought of beef in that equation? The juicy beef patty crumbles in the mouth with spices that blur fragrance and flavor ever so gently; no one flavor lording over the others. Attention is paid to ingredients – only the finest emerge triumphant. It is a finely tempered burger transmuted by market-fresh greens, cream cheese and sweet, dark cherries that yield peaceably to the teeth. The depth of flavor is something of a surprise, and a good one at that – sweet, crunch and tang commandeer our tastebuds, shimmying in excitement on the tongue, profound without belligerence. Needless to say, we will be back for more.
The Oak Door Burger at The Oak Door, Grand Hyatt Tokyo
There is a swath of time when we don’t speak, allowing the flame-woven, juicy meatiness of The Oak Door burger to dance on our taste buds, our minds susceptible to 220 grams of Wagyu beef immured in bacon, cheddar, tomatoes, lettuce, and fried and caramelized onions (and as if crunchy fried onions alone wouldn’t suffice, they are carefully tucked under a liberal slop of barbecue aioli). It is a precise balance of unmistakable flavors; rich without smoldering, and bright as day. It took one bite for us to heave a sigh of sweet surrender.
Famous David Burger at David Myers Cafe
Raved by the New York Times as “the perfect burger,” the Famous David Burger by Michelin-starred chef David Myers sure lives up to its name. Juicy to the point of lusciousness, the meat patty is seasoned beautifully – its middle is a rosy shade of medium-rare pink; while its crisp, charred exterior has the fervor of a good hard plancha sear, finished in a 375-degree oven. Cheddar is melted over the perfectly grilled steak patty, which is topped with fresh iceberg lettuce and spicy mayonnaise before being placed between a warm, toasty, buttery bun. There’s a reason it’s called the “Famous David Burger.”
Bacon Cheese Avocado Burger at Blacows
It begins with the classic hamburger, and ends in a bacon cheese avocado burger. Only the very best ingredients are used, such as A5 Japanese Black Wagyu from Yazawa Meat Inc. Between buttery wedges of avocado, a tongue of Colby Jack swirled into Monterey Jack cheese is revealed. We tentatively take a bite. The beef is dressed with a crumple of jalapeno, mushrooms, prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella, all folded in Blacows’ original barbecue sauce and tartar, which adds both punch and depth. It is intensely flavorful, so much so that we close our eyes to bask in the fullness of its glory. There is a mild, clarifying heat from petite cubes of fresh onion marinated in herbs and spices so that its sweetness and texture enhances the flavor of the beef, leveled with Nadeshiko pork bacon that is all crisp and crunch. It is the holy grail, most deserving of its name.