Review: Blacows, Ebisu


I got into a heated discussion this evening about burgers in Tokyo. I have yet to have one that can live up to Honest Burgers glory (see praise here, here and maybe here). Meanwhile, see Tokyo horror stories from Village Vanguard Diner and JS Burgers here.

So the challenge is on! First of all, time to clear my burger review backlog…

Blacows, Ebisu



This is one of the highly recommended burger places in Tokyo, always making top cut lists. Their website is full of alluring rhetoric of how much care they’ve put into everything in the burger. They don’t just put bacon in their burgers, they put bacon from “enzyme-fed Chiba Nadeshiko Pork, abundant in oelic acid which has been shown to have positive effects on beauty and health.”

Yes, they actually imply that eating their bacon will make you beautiful. I have rarely enjoyed a burger webpage so much… for the wrong reasons. This webpage didn’t invoke immediate salivation but more like grins of disbelief… Continue reading

Review: Village Vanguard Diner, Shimokitazawa; ヴィレッジ ヴァンガード ダイナー 下北沢

Oh how promising it looked...

Oh how promising it looked…

Village Vanguard… that name might seem familiar. But you may have noticed the strategically placed word ‘diner’. This is apparently the foodie offshoot of the legendary variety goods store, Village Vanguard – we’ll return to that in a bit.

I could sit and type out my woes at lengths about Village Vanguard Diner, but I’ll be brief. It’s the kind of place that tries to rock that shabby surfer scene look, culminating in a rather dingy, depressing and gauche interior with jumbled American artifacts. Potentially, someone just has a great sense of humour and foresaw photos like this: Continue reading

Black Buns and Batman – Halloween in Japan

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

One thing you can’t help but notice if you spend any length of time in Japan is the awareness of seasons and the seasonal food and products that come with it. Seasons seem to be set in Japan, regardless of the weather. For example, the swimming season runs from mid-July to the end of August, despite the fact that the sea is more than warm enough to allow swimming before and after this.

When it’s September, it ‘becomes’ autumn. This means a wilful ignorance of the up to 30°C temperatures outside and an excruciating amount of layers topped off with a thick scarf. For four amusing and accurate signs of autumn in Japan, refer to this article.

With all this love of mascots, characters and seasonal food, it doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to move into Halloween food. So begins the tale of the black burgers. Continue reading

Patty and Bun, Liverpool Street

Patty & Bun Liverpool Street... looks a lot like P&B James Street

Patty & Bun Liverpool Street… looks a lot like P&B James Street

Warning! There are going to be a lot of BURGERS appearing on my blog on the next few posts. But burger off if you don’t like it!

The burger trend continues and Patty & Bun have *finally* got around to opening up a second branch…right opposite MacDonald’s.

Patty & Bun are well-established on the London burger scene with a branch on James Street, just near Bond Street. I first tried their Ari Gold burger at Feast at Tobacco Dock in March 2013. I found it a little vinegary due to the pickled onions, but I’ve been meaning to give them a second chance ever since.

To celebrate their Liverpool Street launch, they hosted a publicity event of spectacular proportions – not 100 free burgers, not 500 free burgers, but ONE THOUSAND FREE BURGERS were being given away.

Of course, the queues were ridiculous and my co-diners and I shuddered as we worked out the cost-time trade-off of queuing versus just going the next day and buying one. *ahem* Anyway….

We finally got there, ordered burgers to take away, and waited. We peered in the window…

Hard at work

Hard at work

and watched the production process…

The production process

The production process

… and checked out the sauces…

Their chilli sauce is A-MAZING

Their chilli sauce is A-MAZING

And then we got our food!

Ari Gold Cheeseburger - has to be one of the prettiest burgers out there

Ari Gold Cheeseburger – has to be one of the prettiest burgers out there

This is an Ari Gold Cheeseburger (£7.50) with bacon (+50p), salad, pickled onions, ketchup, and smokey P&B mayo served in a brioche bun. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

The consistency was beautiful, the bun held the patty well, and – although still messy – it was actually a lot easier to eat than a lot of burgers I’ve recently tucked into.

Ari Gold on the inside

Ari Gold on the inside

The patty was without doubt the highlight. It was perfectly cooked – medium-rare – and was beefy and succulent. I would go as far to say that it was the most delicious burger patty that I’ve eaten!! <– Yes, everyone, please recover your jaws.

However, the tiny, tiny problem was that the accompaniments just don’t quite cut it. The pickled onions are just far too pickly and all of us picked some – if not all – of them out.

Then, the rosemary-salted chips (£2.50) were soggy and we all sighed wistfully at the thought of Honest Burgers’ (reviews here, here, here, and here. Feel free to laugh at me – I’m already aware I’m a fangirl).

Saying this, I really want to try their ‘Jose Jose’ chilli burger with chorizo (£8.50) and their ‘Winger Winger Chicken Dinner’ (£5.50), a pot of smoked confit wings with BBQ sauce & spring onions, sounds very interesting indeed.

For now, however, the jury is out… but I want their patties oh-so-much.

Patty and Bun 3/5 – Magnificent patty, mediocre chips and maliferous onions. 

Where: Liverpool Street, London
When: Mon – Wed 11.30am – 10pm; Thurs – Fri 11.30am – 11pm; Sat 11.30am – 9pm; Sun 11.30am – 6pm.

Honest Burgers March Special: The BrewBurger

The BrewBurger - containing four different kinds of beer :)

The BrewBurger – containing four different kinds of beer 🙂

It’s impossible to ignore the burger trend across London. To be honest, if you want to ignore it, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog; I’ve done my best to consume as many burgers as possible in one giant burgery bonanza.

One of my favourite places for a burger in London is Honest Burgers. They’ve got a quality product pitched at the right price, and, as a result, their empire is expanding – expect the sixth branch to open near Oxford Circus later this year.

I fell in love when I first when I went to their Soho branch, and then had a passionate affair with their Christmas special, before drooling over their HOT February special. Their regular menu may only contain three different types of beefburger but their monthly specials really keep the romance alive.

Their latest offering has got me punch-drunk in love. For starters, it is possibly the first burger ever to require an ID to order it.

Honest Burgers have taken things to a new level this March and have collaborated with the awesome BrewDog. BrewDog is a Scottish craft beer company that is taking over the world with quality beer and their very own chain of bars, stretching from Shoreditch all the way to São Paulo! (Japan fangirl squeal: And they’re also in Roppongi in the expat area of Tokyo!) Even if you’re not a beer fan, you have to love BrewdDog because they took on Putin’s homophobia and produced the world’s only beer that’s definitely, absolutely and certainly not for gays – the Hello, My Name Is Vladimir!

Hello, my name is Vladimir and I am zuper hetero!

Hello, my name is Vladimir and I am zuper hetero!

Hello, my name is Vladimir. I am a beer for uber hetero men who ride horses while topless and carrying knives. I am a beer to mark the 2014 Winter Olympics. But I am not for gays. Love wrestling burly men on the Judo mat or fishing in your Speedos? Then this is the beer for you!

I think they’ve got their sales pitch spot on, don’t you? Now onto the BrewBurger itself….

Pervy close-up

Pervy close-up

This is one incredibly boozy beefy treat:  it’s a 150g aged beef patty with Comté cheese and bacon candied with BrewDog’s amber ale, 5AM Saint. It’s then topped with beef dripping and beer fried onions using BrewDog’s flagship Punk IPA and a BBQ reduction made from BrewDog’s Paradox cask-aged Imperial Stout. And, just in case that wasn’t beery enough for you, it’s served with Bourbon Baby, a 5.8% barrel-aged baby scotch ale that Brewdog created just for this collaboration. All this for £15.

More photos make it more real

More photos make it more real

Oh….this was a beery burgery beauty. For me, the bacon got a little subsumed by the other flavours but those  beer-fried onions were fantastic. All of this, of course, comes with Honest Burgers rosemary-salted chips. After a BrewBurger, you will wake up seriously thirsty but smugly satisfied.

Get yourself along to a branch of Honest Burgers before April 2nd. And don’t forget your ID!

Bourbon Baby

Bourbon Baby

Review: Honest Burgers February Special

Beef, smoked Applewood cheddar, the Ribman's 'Christ On A Bike' sauce, smoked bacon, griddled courgette and lettuce

Beef, smoked Applewood cheddar, the Ribman’s ‘Christ On A Bike’ sauce, smoked bacon, griddled courgette and lettuce

Yes, I hear you. I’m fully aware that I am a huge Honest Burgers fangirl. I’m clearly not the only one, though. A legion of loyal London supporters have led them to expand their brand from their humble beginnings in Brixton Village to Soho, Camden, Portobello Road and King’s Cross, with a sixth branch opening near Oxford Circus later this year. They use Ginger Pig meat – which is enough to earn the trust of any sceptic – and they keep the menu simple: three burgers, one chicken burger and a veggie fritter.

Does that a little monotonous? Fear not! Firstly, I would be shocked by anyone who got bored of their delicious burgers with rosemary-salted chips. Secondly, they have a magical, rotating special every month!! I got a wee bit excited about their Christmas special of deep-fried Camembert with cranberry sauce, and may or may not have eaten it three times.

In the nick of time, I have just tried their February special and it is also worth raving about: beef, Applewood smoked cheddar, The Rib Man’s ‘Christ on a Bike’ hot sauce, smoked bacon, griddled courgette and lettuce.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Rib Man, you can find him around London serving up the most delicious ribmeat that looks like this (which will be in Honest Burgers’ April special eeeeeeee!!):

Rib Man bun

Rib Man bun

He is s0mewhat (in)famous for his hot sauces, particularly their creative names. Their names mean business. Their names may also cause minor embarrassment when ordering.

Me in Honest Burgers: Is Christ on a Bike hotter than Holy Fuck?

Waitress: Pardon?

As it turns out, the answer to my question is the affirmative. The waitress advised me to order the sauce on the side because she”d ‘seen people cry’. However, I must have become some kind of spice fiend and not only did I smother my burger wutg what surely must be one of the tastiest chilli sauces I have ever tried, but I asked for an extra pot and downed half a shot. The burger itself is a master of taste perfection – the courgette is absolutely perfect with the sauce.

Swallowing Christ on a Bike

Swallowing Christ on a Bike

You have until Friday, February 28th to try this god. After that, there is another deity – a collaboration with BrewDog, which sees the world’s first burger that requires ID to purchase it! Tomorrow, I get a sneak previewtaste – watch this space 😉

Honest Burgers website