- Why should I eat burgers in Japan?
- How does it compare to other burger joints in Tokyo?
- What’s the atmosphere like in the evening?
Why should I eat burgers in Japan?
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me in Japan is, how they can take a non-Japanese dish and improve on it so that it becomes better than the original. I’m not talking about dishes like Tempura or Ramen, which originally came from overseas and are now considered authentic national dishes. I mean food that you’d assume would always taste better in its country of origin.
In my own experience, that assumption was quickly shattered as I frequently had dishes here that equalled or even exceeded what I had eaten abroad. At first it might seem a strange idea to eat anything that doesn’t belong to the vast world of Japanese cuisine during your trip but once you get past that psychological barrier, the experience can be amazing. As long as you choose the right place, that is.
How does it compare to other burger joints in Tokyo?
One such place is Cruz Burgers, located halfway between Yotsuya station and the Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan on San-Ei dori street, parallel to Shinjuku dori street. According to one famous Tokyo blogger, it is hands-down the #1 place for burgers in Tokyo. I have to admit I’m not an expert on burgers. However, I’ve been to a few of the top-ranked places in Tokyo and after trying a Cruz burger, I’d definitely have it on a regular basis. The taste is that good. They offer a wide range of burgers from the standard (single patty 1000 yen) to the double & double (double patty, double cheese, 1450 yen). Another interesting aspect of having a non-Japanese dish in Japan, is that you can also enjoy it with a local flavour. For example, the menu includes a Teriyaki burger (1100 yen). The menu is bilingual so choosing your burger is a breeze.
So how was it? First of all, the burger is wider than it is tall, which I think makes it easier to eat. Hardly anything fell out of the bun while I was eating it. The patty had the right amount of coarseness which made it very satisfying to chew. The amount of vegetables was perfectly balanced, so it didn’t overwhelm the taste of the other ingredients. The bun was toasted, which is always a welcome touch. Finally, the waffle fries, included with the lunch set menu from 11am to 3pm, were its perfect companion. If you go there alone, I would recommend taking a counter seat at the bar so that you can watch your burger being prepared. I had chosen the Colby Jack Cheese Burger, which was a late addition to their menu and mentioned on a flyer (in Japanese) on the cover. According to Cruz, it was Trump’s favourite when he visited Japan last year.
What’s the atmosphere like in the evening?
One thing that struck me was, that the majority of the customers were women, which is a little surprising, considering that the main item on the menu is an American-style burger. Perhaps it’s the bright and modern interior, stylishly decorated in wood, the upbeat background music, and the fact that the restaurant is 100% non-smoking, which is still quite rare in Tokyo especially in the evening. Whatever the reason, the place, which seats nearly 20 people, was pretty busy when I came along on a Saturday evening, despite the relatively early closing time at 9pm.
As for the draft beers, Cruz has 4 American ones on tap – one regular and 3 rotating. Three of them are from Ballast Point, a brewery in San Diego in the United States. A medium-sized glass costs between 800 and 900 yen which is a fairly standard price for imported draft beer in Tokyo. I had the Sculpin IPA and the Manta Double IPA and enjoyed them both. In addition to burgers they also have some starters that are worth trying. We had the recommended BBQ pulled pork which you eat by putting the pork meat into tortillas. It was delicious and good value for one’s money. The menu also includes sandwiches and hot dogs. Finally, they also do take-outs, so if you want to take your burger to bed, as Trump allegedly does, it is a definite possibility!