About the Tokyo Burger Blog
I’m obsessive. Let’s get that out of the way. I love researching things, exploring places, learning about people. Give me a glass of red wine and I’m fine. But give me two glasses to compare and I’m thrilled. A glass of wine is enjoyable, a comparison is an education.
Up until 2013 I had never lived in Tokyo, just visited many times for work (I’m a celebrity photographer – www.jeremygoldberg.com). Around ten years ago was my first visit to Japan. My first meal in Tokyo was with a group of new friends who took me out for Italian food. I was incredibly disappointed to have flown from Los Angeles 6000 miles to eat Italian, yet I felt in a Japanese setting I had to go along with the group’s plan. So along I went and was pleasantly shocked that the Italian food I ate at my first “Japanese” restaurant was better than any Italian meal I had eaten in Los Angeles (yes, Mozza is overrated – there, I said it).
Flash forward to about 2009, and despite being a picky eater, I had eaten wonderful meals in Tokyo. Italian food, French food, ramen, soba, udon, vegetarian, macrobiotic, shabu shabu, yakiniku, Chinese food, etc. Yet I realized on one trip that despite surviving on a strict diet in Los Angeles (ie. In-N-Out), I had never attempted to find the superlative Japanese burger.
So I set out looking for great Tokyo burgers. After eating at 4 or 5 restaurants that all sounded amazing (kobe beef burgers sourced from the shady side of Kilimanjaro, etc), I was quite disappointed. It seemed that I could get a great pizza in Tokyo, but I couldn’t find a great burger.
Then I stumbled across Goro’s Diner (now called A&G Diner), and had an amazing discussion with the owner in my halting Japanese. After signing the lease, he found that the storefront didn’t have enough space for a teppanyaki grill. Having never visited the USA (and having minimal experience with burgers), he nonetheless decided to open a burger shop.
Goro’s wasn’t a typical American burger, but it was great. The owner said he really wanted to visit the USA to try some burgers, and I asked him where he wanted to go. The first shop he mentioned was Burger Joint in NYC. I assumed I misunderstood his Japanese, but no – he really did mean the burger shop hidden in the lobby of Le Meridien hotel of which many New Yorkers are unaware. That’s Japan – they take research and obsession to new levels. When people ask why I like Japan, it’s hard to explain the satisfaction of the Japanese obsession with perfection and the extraordinary standard of living.
Over time, I’ve found some other good burger spots in Tokyo, but my tastes are very particular (about everything). In the USA, I love In-N-Out and Fatburger is excellent (if a bit overpriced), but I find Five Guys only okay. Shake Shack used to be amazing (it feels like heresy, but even better than In-N-Out), but it’s become a bit variable in recent years (In-N-Out’s consistency is one of the reasons they often top my mental list).
I kept trying to find reviews of Tokyo burgers that matched my own tastes and sensibilities, but there aren’t many blogs about burgers in Tokyo (and there are 8,360 about ramen). After awhile I realized there was only one person whose taste in burgers I would agree with 100% of the time. Me.
Hence the Tokyo Burger Blog. Really just a way that I can keep track of which burgers around the world I like and an excuse to eat burgers for educational reasons rather than purely obsessive ones.
Hope you enjoy it as well.