Up until recently I had spent pretty close to zero time in Roppongi.
Sometimes you feel a bit homesick, and Roppongi can fix that. Getting overly comfortable with the safety of Japan? Roppongi is one of the only areas where you have to keep your eye on your wallet. Missing being hassled on the street by people trying to separate you from your cash? Roppongi has an impressive contingent of West African hustlers aggressively promoting strip clubs and brothels. And in the unusually homogenous society of Japan, Roppongi is foreigners as far as the eye can see.
Then again, recently I’ve started to appreciate a bit of Roppongi after being more formally introduced by some foreign friends. I think that’s why I avoided it before; it felt like a waste being in Japan and hanging out in the foreigner area.
The huge Roppongi Hills complex sits in the middle of Roppongi and, according to my Japanese friends, is the coolest place to be. Assuming that you’ve time traveled to 2004, because apparently now it’s quite passé and Roppongi Midtown is the new hot spot. When I mentioned to a Japanese friend that Google’s offices were located in one of the Roppongi Hills towers, they sniffed with disdain that it wasn’t in Midtown.
Be that as it may, for some reason I found myself walking by Roppongi Hills one day and noticed that a pretty highly rated burger joint called AS CLASSICS Diner was nestled inside the Hollywood Plaza mall, part of the Hills complex.
Inside, as usual, the Japanese have managed to design a quite beautiful space, complete with faux weathered surfaces. (It has been around for 9 whole years, so maybe that’s 90 in Japanese shopping years).
The menu claimed they served American hand chopped beef, which sounded awfully good after suffering through all the poorly textured Japanese burgers. Maybe American beef is just more suited to the art of the burger.
My very neat and simple cheeseburger came with some super crunchy wedge fries. I don’t mind a good wedge fry as long as it’s fried to within an inch of its life – mushy wedge fries are one of the scourges of Western society.
The burger itself sat on a sesame seed bun – a bit bready, but it balanced out their shop sauce, a combo of BBQ and mayo. The texture was good, but not as American as I was hoping; it missed a bit of the crumbly goodness. The flavor and seasoning of the patty was okay, but a bit bland.
Overall, this is a solid effort by a solid shop. Unfortunately, neither the burger nor the ambience are enough of a standout to lure me into the depths of Roppongi.
Ambience 7/10, Burger 7.5/10, Fries 8/10