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Burgers in Osaka

JAPAN | Saturday, 7 May 2016 | Views [341]

Although I would never want to be one of those people who goes to a country and only ever eats at McDonalds, I see nothing wrong with occasionally wanting a literal taste of familiarity. In Paris, this took the form of a Friday routine of getting a burger formule followed by a Starbucks on Fridays. The burger formule because it was filling and the place that sold it sometimes had an Oreo tiramasu which was amazing, and the Starbucks because Fridays were long and I was worried about falling asleep without it. So when the second or third Friday of the program rolled around and I realized I wanted a burger, it was hard to say if it was because I missed America or because I missed my Paris routine.

By a month in, it didn't really matter. I wanted a burger. Whether it was because I missed the burger place near my house or the restaurant near Pierre and Marie Curie or just because I missed red meat, I wanted a burger. Both the guide I'd picked up and the internet seemed to suggest the same place- Critter Burgers near Mondial Kaffee. But the times I swung by it it was either closed or super busy.

So I considered other options. I considered McDonalds and Mos Burger. (Mos Burger is a restaurant chain here, and it also features in the non-existent first date of Mary and Takeshi, two characters in the Genki textbook series.) However, when I looked at the menu, the pictures of the hamburgers looked about as appealing as the hamburgers in my high school cafeteria look. When a restaurant's own advertisements can't make food look appealing, you know you have a problem.

So eventually I compensated with the next best thing: a hamburg. Hamburg, like Valentine's Day, is a Japanese take on an American concept. It is basically just the patty of a hamburger, but typically sold as a set, so it will also include rice, miso soup, maybe some vegetables… no bread, though. It's a lot like a hamburger, but it's not quite the same. Not enough to fully satisfy my craving.

So on Tuesday, when my spirituality class was cancelled, I decided it was worth another try and went to Critters Burger. It was full, but there was no line, and since that seemed like the best I was going to get, I settled in to wait. Fortunately, I had a book to finish for the spirituality report due Thursday to keep me company. Work you can no longer reasonably procrastinate on makes for the best company.

Eventually, people inside were finished eating, and I could go in and sit down. By that point I was very hungry and quite skeptical of it being worth the wait. Especially when I saw the menu. There was a one-page menu saying the lunch special which threw in a few fries for no extra cost, and listing about twelve burgers and six different drink options. Just a plain list naming each burger after what was on it. “Plain burger. Burger with cheese. Burger with lettuce and tomato. Burger with cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Burger with egg. Burger with cheese and egg.” Even if some of the options were interesting, the menu itself was rather dull and uninspired.

I caught the waiter's attention and ordered a burger with pineapple and cheese. And then I went back to reading my book until the burger came out.

Hamburger

The pictures I'd seen had not lied to me- this was exactly how I expected a burger to look. (Except for the pineapple sticking out. What kind of weirdo thinks ordering pineapple on a burger sounds good?) Surreptitiously watching a couple next to me, I determined that the paper I'd been given with my burger was for picking it up. Because finger food is only variably a thing in Japan. This trip, I have repeatedly had to use chopsticks to eat french fries. It never feels any more natural.

Although it was weird to hold the burger in a slip of paper, and I worried slightly about accidentally getting a bite of paper with my burger, it was very good. Well worth the multiple times I’d stopped by to try and find it, and the half hour wait even when I was the first person in line. And, more importantly, my craving for burgers had finally been satisfied, so I could stop trying the Hamburg set every chance I got.

Tags: burger, cafe, food, fries, reading

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