Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Burger wars ( Kyoto )

A couple of posts back I wrote about the fact that when you live in Japan you occasionally crave  something other than Japanese food.  Burgers seem to have taken off in Kyoto recently and we've sussed a couple out that we'd like to pass on to you.  

 GRAND BURGER serves up this pretty specimen above. 
It wasn't bad at all and if you are in the area North East of Gosho (the Imperial Palace) it's a happy choice with friendly service and all the basic condiments you need. 
They also have a fairly well stocked bar for a burger joint. 
Someone's happy....
As you can see, it's easy to order if you don't speak Japanese.  

***OUR PICK!!!!  Now TOM'S BURGER BAR is a little bit north of the town centre but absolutely worth the trip if you are looking for a truly delicious burger in Kyoto town - it might not be as picture perfect as Grand Burger but the succulent patties are full of quality beef flavour and the whole package is an absolute cracker.  If we'd lived in this neck of the woods we would have formed an unhealthy addiction. 
Yep -there's the charming, and very F-ing funny, Tom in the background - say hi from me when you visit!

A few more Kyoto Burger related tips :

1.  I was not expecting it at all but the popular CAFE REIMS right in the heart of town, also does a great burger/shake etc alongside a whole range of other foods. I'd mistakenly believed it was a bit of a tourist trap, a place for teens and lazy/cautious travellers to hang out etc and that the food wouldn't really be a focus - but I was wrong. Must check out some of their other grub when we are back in town - we were eyeing off our neighbours meals  - Japanese, French or American it all looked pretty damn fine. 

2. One burger joint that keeps popping up in local restaurant/cafe/bar guides is Diner 58 and, as it was situated in our street, we gave it a shot on more than one occasion. It was disappointing each time. Although the burgers were HUGE, they had no flavour. At least the meat had no flavour - the other ingredients seemed fresh enough but the house sauce, in which my burger was swimming, tasted like nothing I've ever eaten before - if I were pushed to describe it I would not be able to say anything positive... and you know what they say "if you can't say anything nice...." so I will keep my trap shut. We have been told since then that the Fried Chicken is their specialty and to avoid the burgers ( even though they are clearly the intended hero?!) . I must admit the milkshakes are ok too. I really think it is simply a young person's joint, ie young Japanese that are impressed by all things American and perhaps want to hang somewhere that is serviced by a couple of cool dudes in Hawaiian shirts. Which I get. I was young and almost cool once. I think it is probably best for hanging out at night with the gang -  sipping tropical cocktails and snacking on fried chicken and other nibbles. But the burgers?? Really? we tried... 

3. I don't normally advocate fast food joints but I know that when you are travelling sometimes you just need grab something quick and easy so.... Mos Burger is a fast food joint that does a range of burgers on compressed rice "buns"  - as well as the usual suspects - so it is very handy for gluten intolerants. Over the 30 years I've been travelling or living in Japan I've eaten the odd Mos burger and I HAD found it to be one of the best fast food burgers around. But the outlet on Shijo Dori in Kyoto's heart is below parr. I don't recommend it unless you are in a real hurry or it's late and you are too drunk to care!.  There may be another Mos burger outlet in Kyoto which does a better job - but the shijo store (on the south side of shijo street between Kawaramachi and Karasuma streets) is highly inconsistent. Just on the topic of Fast Food burgers in Japan - which I became more aware of after meeting my burger loving partner  - Freshness burger (and I've only experienced one in Kobe) does a very good job!


  1. The burger at Salut Ya cafe up near Demachiyanagi station is one of the best I've ever had - not huge (wonderful, I hate those massive serves, they feel so oppressive) - a perfect bun, very flavoursome. As an alternative to the obligatory Japanese potato side-salad with mayo dressing they serve their potato salad with a black sesame dressing that I still think about back here in Sydney. A great building, and full of impossibly cool students, of course. They don't only serve burgers, it just happens to be one of the things they do very well. Heading back to Kyoto in a week and I will be be taking my little tour party back for the experience. Thanks for your blog, only just discovered it and will spend many hours going through it.
    I'm prettyshake on Pinterest, and I just discovered that you'd repinned some of my pins on Elephant Factory Coffee (my favourite cafe in the world, I just love handsome Hatto-san) and Mo-an. Even though it's hot I must make myself trudge up the hill to Mo-an, it's just such a world apart. Cheers, K

  2. Hi Kathryn, thanks for the hot tip on Salut ya - must check it out soon. I have been meaning to check out Moan too - might hit them both on the one journey! cheers and look forward to more from you on pinterest Prettyshake!
    Thanks for dropping by. Have a great time in Kyoto. Cheers, J

  3. I went today to Salut Ya Cafe and it is really good!
    One of the best burgers that I have in Kyoto so far...

    Other restaurant that I really like is Burger Company:
    Try the apple gorgonzola burger, it is AMAZING!!!! =D

  4. Hey there Anon - thanks so much for the feedback - the apple gorgonzola burger sounds right up my alley! cheers, Jane