Very unassuming, Arms Burger is a classic American-style burger hangout that sits unassumingly behind Yoyogi Park, just a few steps away from Tokyo’s favourite take-away coffee joint Little Nap. Cosy, laid-back and very family-friendly, this place really chooses substance over style, which is where it finds its timeless, rustic charm. Unlike newer American-style burger restaurants, Arms is all about serving up the comfort classics without the flash. A local cult favourite, this place gets pretty busy on the weekends, but during the week it’s easy to nab a sunny spot by the floor-to-ceiling open windows.
The Great Burger
Located between Omotesando and “Cat Street” (premium location), The Great Burger is a real popular burger joint in Tokyo. The never-ending queue in front of the entrance is proof enough, if need be, of their incredible popularity, especially among college students and young adults. The burgers are, of course, on par with the popularity of the place: just excellent. They are well-balanced, cooked to order and made with the finest ingredients. In clear, these are true premium burgers. The menu includes both classic items (cheese burger, avocado burger) and original burgers (mango burgers, asparagus burgers) including their monthly burger selection. Note that the menu also includes pancakes
An American diner style burger joint, BLACOWS uses 100% kuroge wagyu beef in its burgers (hence the name in English) and add yakiniku flavor on top. And the meat is fresh; not only do they grind it by hand, they also carve it in-house. The meat, combined with fresh toppings, makes excellent burgers. An important note: You need to choose the toppings yourself, even the lettuce and tomato (by default, the burgers come without toppings).
One that you’ve really got to work for is Baker Bounce, a popular well-trafficked haunt hidden in the weaving, ramshackle backstreets of Sangenjaya. The faux American vibe can be a little cheesy, but there’s not a single bad word to say about their burgers. A little pricier than some of their contemporaries, it’s definitely a ‘you get what you pay for’ situation. In order to ensure they serve their guests the very, very best, Baker Bounce offers a very relaxed and open ‘request’ policy, so you can specify exactly how you want your toppings.
Authentic is an excellent burger joint next to Tameikesanno station (it’s hidden at the end of a back street so look for it). As the dancing burger on the signboard implies, Authentic is first about “good vibration” (the owner is said to be a fan of Jamaican music). The menu stays traditional (with one or two original creations like their broccoli burger). The burgers they serve are true premium burgers though: tasty, balanced and made of the freshest ingredients. The meat, a mix of Angus and wagyu beef, is well seasoned and tasty. The bun, soft but dense, does its job perfectly. The original thousand-island sauce they use in some of their burgers creates a nice effect, a sweet touch in a meaty world.
Burger Mania is an extremely popular fast food chain with locations scattered throughout the city. They’re the masters of recreating classic-style burgers in a uniquely artisanal style. From smoked salmon and relish, to avocado and asparagus, nothing is off limits here. If the choices look a little overwhelming, try the fried chicken and bacon option served with creamy mayonnaise and salad of your choosing. The homemade chips served with an innovative gorgonzola and balsamic glaze has to be tasted to be believed.
Freshness Burger Tomigaya
Freshness Burger is by no means some secret underground Tokyo burger player. In fact, in Japan it’s about as (if not more) ubiquitous than McDonalds. However, visiting Freshness Burger Tomigaya is a very special experience. Opened in 1992, this is the very first Freshness Burger shop, and it remains relatively untouched. Keeping it classic and simple is their agenda, and it’s proven over the past two decades to be incredibly successful. The meat here is griddled until it is crisp and laid on a floury roll before it is laden with a runny egg and fresh vegetables – a true masterpiece in the art of burger making.