What Makes a Burger a Burger?

The following day after climbing Sakurayama, my supervisor`s supervisor deemed that it was time for me to go sign up for a cellphone. Prior to coming to Japan, I was dead set on obtaining the Iphone 4. Japanese cellphones are admittedly pretty nifty, but I need GPS and Japanese-dictionary apps to aid me when I inevitably get hopelessly lost. Once again, sempai Ken was assigned the duty of accompanying me to sign up for a cellphone.

However first, we needed to eat. I had heard of Mos Burger before I came to Japan, so I wanted to try it out. Off we went to the one Mos Burger in town (in Fujioka it seems you can find almost everything, but there is only one place of its kind. Except for 7-Elevens. They pop up like mushrooms everywhere).

You’re probably wondering what makes Mos Burger so famous. Well, Mos Burger is like the Japanese Mcdonalds. It is the second largest fast food chain in Japan after McD, and is notable for the uniquely Japanese twist they put on the traditional burger concept. The original Mos Burger is your standard fare burger with a large tomato slice. However at some point in time, they apparently decided that the burger needed to be modified to suit Japanese tastes. Please refer to the following exhibits:


At first glance this may look like a normal hamburger, but upon closer inspection, you might notice something is a bit off. Look carefully and you will realize that the bun isn’t actually made of bread, but rice molded into the shape of a patty! By itself, this is already quite a departure from the traditional bun-lettuce-tomato-patty-bun configuration you are familiar with. However, not willing to be relegated to complacency, Mos Burger decided to innovate and to challenge the very concept of what constitutes a burger.

Exhibit B:
This is the unagi rice burger. Unagi is eel, and BBQ eel is a very popular dish in Japan. The green stuff on top is seaweed. Can we even call this a burger? At what point can we say enough is enough, a line has been crossed? I think this pushes the boundaries of what can be acceptably called a burger. It does look quite tasty however, so perhaps I will reserve judgment until I have sampled it myself. Expect a post sometime in the future as I have just now decided that this is an area that demands more research.

Exhibit C:

This is the rest of the menu. Make note of the gradual transition from normal burger to progressively innovative forms of the rice burger, to shrimp burger (?!?). Is the shrimp burger the most conceptually challenging? Somehow I think that one should be somewhere in the middle. In any case, at least the menu is more interesting than the typical offerings at other North American burger joints, where the range of options usually consists of some permutation of number of patties and slices of cheese.


One thought on “What Makes a Burger a Burger?

  1. AHH!! This is what I had in Japan during a really intense burger craving. I stared at this menu for like, 20 minuites rationalizing what I should get. I ended up trying the Terriyaki burger and it was pretty tasty, though drippy. I’d like to try some of these again! Glad I know what the chain is called now!

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