Despite (or perhaps because of) our recent dabbling at the more extreme end of Japanese cuisine, Keeley and I have begun the search for Tokyo’s (and Japan’s) best burger. Ably abetted by our good friends James, Joe and Tom, over in Japan for a holiday, we have spent the past few days traipsing the streets of one of the world’s biggest cities in search of the kind of sustenance only a slab of ground meat in a bap can provide.
Initially, the results were disappointing. Having pumped 300 yen into a web connected PC in a Ginza department store and checked out Time Out’s authoritative Tokyo burger round up, as well as Metropolis’s wide-ranging guide, we set out for Burger 5, a small joint near Ginza station.
Address and map in hand, we struck out. And promptly got lost. Having gabbled a request for directions at staff manning a department store entrance, we were pointed in the right direction by a bridal suite manager, fetched to help thanks to his impressive English. Two hours after we’d scanned the web, we arrived at our destination. Only to be given ‘X factor arms’ by a restaurant proprietor, signalling Burger 5 was no more. Hungry and deflated, we postponed the search.
The next day, however, yielded impressive results. Having taken the Keio line out to Kichijoji to visit the Ghibli Museum, we stumbled across Village Vanguard. An American-themed burger bar, cranking out Beatles hits, it was the perfect find. Not mentioned in any Tokyo burger round-ups, this was a place worth missing breakfast for. Avocado burgers the size of a human head, chili dog burgers to overwhelm even the biggest of meat fanatics and stacks of US craft beers to guzzle on. At 1100 yen a burger, Village Vanguard was a steal too.
But by no means is the search over. We might have left Tokyo for a few weeks, but we’ll be hounding out more meat treats in Osaka and Hiroshima, before returning to the capital and seeing if we can find a place that serves up a burger better than Village Vanguard. Wherever that is, it has a lot to live up to.