Tokyo Food-Otaku: The Great Tokyo Tri-Burger Experiment

Granted, I’m no food critic, nor a bonafide epicurean specialist. But i do enjoy some good eats every now and then. Good eats, good meats and of course, a good burger. Having some of the best places to eat, i reckon it’s pretty hard to find a chow-down place in Tokyo that will disappoint, but when feeds of a certain Burger joint kept creeping up on my Facebook feed and subsequent Googling brought up some mad reviews. (Here, here and here) And with a food blog championing as the “Best in the World“, i knew i had to make a trip down.

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Truth be told, i didn’t exactly plan to hit 3 separate Burger joints during my short stay in Tokyo. Blacows was the pretty much the only one on my itinerary’s hit list. The 3rd Burger happened to just be there when i was hungry (haven’t had anything to eat the entire day prior) and i chomped down at The Great Burger because it was near the awesome Airbnb apartment i was staying at. But of course, I’m not complaining. All 3 Burger restaurants were fantastic in their own way they all added some wonderful flavor to my holiday.

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Getting things started, here’s The 3rd burger. It was on my first night in Tokyo when i stumbled upon this place in Roppongi. Like every bumbling tourist, i headed out the wrong exit in the train station but faced with a very inviting Burger cafe, i think i made a right mistake. They also have a main shop in Omotesando for those interested.

Catering to the more health-conscientious-ish set, The 3rd Burger presents itself as a more “healthy alternative” to the regular sandwiches we are more accustomed to. According to Timeout, “The patties are minced from fresh meat (no freezing allowed), the buns are free from additives and preservatives, and each burger comes laden with organic veg.” It all sounds pretty good, they even serve smoothies with meals. But of course at that point in time, i had no idea what this place was about, it just looked like they served some pretty good burgers and there was a screen broadcasting how they made those yummy patties. I was not disappointed.

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I had the Marinated Burdock Burger and coupled it with fries and a beer. All in, it was about ¥1,400. Pretty good value if you hail from Singapore, the land of expensive. The burger was good and the sauce had a nice tangy bite. With lots of those organic veggies stuffed between two buns and a patty, it made for a very tasty meal. Especially when i swapped out my smoothie for a biru. In a nutshell, it’s like Freshness Burger, only fresher, and more tasty with a fantastic variation of Burgers in the menu. The fries were nothing to shout (especially without some hot sauce) about but they usually play supporting roles when it comes to burgers anyway, no biggie there.

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Now onto the main event, Blacows! I’ve heard some pretty good things about this place so expectations were of course, on the slightly high side. With memories of the previous night’s healthy burger still fresh in my mind i made the trek up to Ebisu straight from Makuhari Messe. My feet were busted from the day’s activities but with images of freshly ground up Japanese black cow wagyu beef floating in front of me, there was no stopping me! (Be damned you little upslope towards the restaurant!)

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I stepped into the discreet looking joint, was very politely made aware of their last order and closing times (i did reach a bit late) and was presented with their menu. Off the top of my head, i pointed to the Cheeseburger as i wanted to discover what Mr Food Critic had been raving about. (Reference to prices above, still totally reasonable for some top quality chow)

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Minutes (or maybe 10-15 minutes) later, this hit my table. It looked honest, no fancy accessories to the burger, only some melted cheese, a nice brown caramelized sauce on top and some tar tar sauce sitting beneath the beef patty of destiny.

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The moment of truth.

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You know the saying, “never meet your heroes”. Well, that does not apply here. I can’t tell you if it’s the Best in the World or the Best in Tokyo since i’m no “expert” food blogger, but it was pretty good indeed. Not it wasn’t good, it was great, i didn’t really care about the cheese, i didn’t really care about the tasty sauce, what i cared about, was that black cow beef patty. For meat lovers that patty takes total center stage in the midst of 2 buns tasty enough to eat on their own, it was thick, juicy and oozing with some fatty cow flavor. On hindsight, i should have ordered a biru.

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The last bite before i call it a day and head back to my hotel near Tokyo Station. Blacows was so very worth the trip up and i’ll make it a point to return once again. Maybe next time i’ll try the Big. (Or maybe not)

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The Great Burger happened to be nearby as i was heading out for lunch on my last day in Tokyo, located smack in Omotesando and just a short walk away from my apartment, it was time for Burger number 3. While The 3rd Burger prides itself on providing a fresh and healthy new-age take on a traditional favorite and Blacows going on the full-on high-quality gourmet route, The Great Burger sticks with the tried and tested formula of an American Diner style, fat juicy sandwich. Bacon, cheese, pineapple, whatever works, just stack it in and serve it up.

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The decor in this place is definitely casual and friendly. I had a counter seat and got to see my Bacon Cheeseburger being prepared on the griddle. I opted for smaller thin cut fries as a matter of preference, you can choose thicker cuts if you so choose. All in, it was just slightly above ¥1,000 for my set lunch that came with salad, fries and a “home-made” ginger ale. Great value once again and for the quality of food you get, i’d even call it cheap.

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With nice big thick cuts on bacon slathered on top of the cheesed patty and topped off with a toast bun, it was chow time! On a nice winter afternoon, this sure hits the right spot, with those thick cuts of bacon slices really bringing it home. After washing it all down with a nice glass of Ginger Ale, it was time to hit the shopping trail for a full day before saying to Tokyo once again.

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So of all 3, which is the best? It really does boil down to how you like your burger. For those who crave the taste of meat and only want the very best cow in their sandwiches, a trip to Blacows is the only place to be, for those who insist the best burgers are American styled burgers, cheese, bacon and all things FREEDOM!, The Great Burger has got your back. And for those who much prefer a more healthy Japanese take on an American favorite, The 3rd Burger might be something you should try.

Many people come to Tokyo expecting to eat some top-notch JDM food, which of course can be easily found, but isn’t it a waste if they go all JDM food only and miss out on Japan’s amazing western style eateries.

Personally, i think you cannot go wrong with any of these 3 places, they all served up some of the best Burgers i’ve ever had, but if you really want me to pick one, I’ll be tapping my Suica (or Pasmo) once again for the Yamanote line to Ebisu. (Sorry Fergburger, but you will have to share space in my “Best-burger-in-the-World” spot from now on)

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