Updated: April 17, 2018
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Hambagu (Hamburg Steak): Japan's beloved meat patty and where to have it in Tokyo!

The Japanese "hambagu" (Hamburg Steak) is a popular dish everywhere in Japan. It is widely available at restaurants, usually at a very reasonable price, and people make it home too. Find out about this delicious Japanese-style meat patty.

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Hambagu

The hambagu originates from 18th century Hamburg in Germany. It was also known as a tartar steak there, and it was primarily a cheap meal often eaten by laborers. The Germans emigrated to America and brought in their food culture. Later on, when Japan opened up to the world from the Meiji period (from 1868), Some Japanese traveled to America and discovered in turn the German hamburg steak. It was then adopted and adapted by the Japanese, and it quickly became a staple in the food culture of Japan.
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What it is very similar to a hamburger without the buns on which a brown sauce is poured. The Japanese use minced meat, usually a mix of beef and pork, and mix up finely chopped vegetables and panko bread crumbs with it. It is salted and there is also often eggs mixed into it. The mixture is then made into patty forms and pan fried. It is usually served with heated vegetables such as broccoli, carrots or corn.
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There are countless variations of the hambagu. The seasoning, the meat and vegetables used, the types of sauces, the way it is cooked all make for a different dish. In Japan, it is quite common that the sauce be made teriyaki-style. Many people also use typical Japanese seasoning such as soy sauce, miso paste and mirin.
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Cheese-filled hambagu are very popular! They can be found at many family restaurants such as Gasuto. Once you insert your fork into the patty, there is an outflow of cheese that mixes up with the rich teriyaki sauce. The combination is just fantastic!

Where to eat Hambagu in Tokyo?

So many restaurants have hambagu on their menu. But here are some shops that really specialize in this Japanese-German fusion dish.

Hamburg Will

Hamburg Will is located very near the Shinjuku Gyoen Park in Shinjuku. So if you are visiting this beautiful park, why not stop here for a hambagu? It is located at a 3 minute walk from the Shinjuku Gyoen Station.
The secret to their delicious patties is the exclusive use of 100% Iwate pork instead of beef. This makes the hambagu especially juicy and delicious. You can chose from three sauces: demi-glace, mustard cream or yuzu pepper. The dishes are also served with a hanjuku tamago (Japanese-style soft boiled egg). Lunch time hambugu start from 1000 yen.

Grill K

Grill K is a highly rated restaurant with two addresses. One is is in Kumakai Saitama and the one being introduced here is in Sengoku, Tokyo. It is located at 3 minute walk from the Sengoku Station.
This is the ultimate hambagu shop for people with a big appetite. You can add extra meat to your dish at an extra cost (starters are at 1300 and the largest size of 450g is 2400 yen). You see on this picture 400g of hambagu meat! They grill their patties on charcoal, and there is a light smokey and meaty smell in all of the restaurant. The juices coming out of the grilled-to-perfection meat makes the hambagu delicious as it is. You can choose 2 sauces from a selection of 5.

AOI

This is a famous shop in Ginza so it's often quite crowded. It is located at a 5 minute walk from the Yurakucho Station.
At AOI, you get a hambagu served with a salad and a fried egg. The sauce is Japanese-style with a delicious onion taste for the regular dish.The patties here are particularly tender and juicy. There are various hambagus to choose from including a delicious avocado one that is served ith a wasabi-soy sauce sauce. You can chose the amount of rice you want at not extra cost. Prices are around 1000 yen.

Uchouten

Simple and so delicious, Uchouten is another great hambagu shop beloved by the people by Tokyoites. This store is located at a 5 minute walk from the Ikebukuro Station.
At Uchouten, one of the well-liked hambagu dish is the Japanese black beef one. As a lunch set you can get that and and a mini minced meat cake for the extraordinary price of 1380 yen. This shop's motto could very well be simple is best, because nothing seems extraordinary from the outside but the taste is outstanding!

Lastly...

If you are new to hambagu nothing should hold you back from trying this delicious Japanese dish! This is basically a hamburger without the buns, so nothing too foreign here for most people. Make sure to check out some of these selected shops if you are in Tokyo.
tabikamome
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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