Part 3: Hamburgers near Hibiya
Despite all the lovely tofu, Japan certainly doesn’t lack for meat. As I’ve written before, you can get all the McDonalds and “hamburg steaks” (ハムバーグ) you want here, but finding a hamburger on a bun with toppings and vegetables is somewhat of a trick. (And no, they don’t sell hamburger buns at the store.)
I first read about the Beat Diner in The Japan Times when it ran a special on gourmet hamburgers in Tokyo. The Beat Diner was my top choice among these places because of its proximity to Tokyo Takarazuka, and so I headed there after seeing Sabrina/Exciter! on my way to the nearby Imperial Theatre to see Elisabeth.
Located under the train tracks in Hibiya, The Beat Dinner serves a variety of huge American-style hamburgers as well as several kinds of beer, salads, and soups. The inside is decorated in American rock posters, but unlike Hard Rock Café or other themed restaurants, it doesn’t feel cluttered, overdone, or oppressive. Added bonus: the train passing overhead every few minutes actually adds to the atmosphere.
I ordered an avocado burger, which came with tartar sauce, avocado, lettuce, and tomato. The Beat Diner, knowing that 1. hamburgers are meant to be eaten with one’s hands and 2. this process can be incredibly messy if the burger and toppings are juicy, provides paper sleeves to put your hamburger in so that you stay clean while eating. Of course, given that my burger was falling apart as I ate it, this was easier said than done, but it worked for the most part.
The menu is bilingual, with the types of burgers listed in English first, and a description in Japanese. Most of the burgers are easy to understand—pineapple burger, avocado burger, etc., so if you can’t read Japanese, it shouldn’t be a big deal. The average price is 1000 yen, but, having eaten $10 hamburgers at Zingerman’s Roadhouse before, I can tell you it’s worth it. All burgers come with fries, too. My burger was nice and juicy—cooked perfectly; the fries were also really good—not too greasy or too many.
The downside is that the burgers are rather large. Not too much—I managed a whole one, and I usually can only eat half of a Zingerman’s Roadhouse one—but I timed it so that this was my lunch AND dinner (eaten at 3 pm between an early matinee and an evening show).
By all means, if you are in the Tokyo metro area and want to splurge on a hamburger that will actually remind you of home without being obnoxiously over- or faux-American, The Beat Diner is the place to go.
Toukyou-to Chiyoda-ku Yuurakuchou 2-1-13
Mon-Thurs: 11:00-23:00 (last order 22:30)
Average price: 1000 yen (for hamburgers)
The restaurant is located on Harumi Dori (晴海通り）where it passes under the tracks for JR Yurakucho Station（有楽町駅). It’s near Tokyo Metro Hibiya Station (日比谷駅) exits A2 and A4 and JR Yurakucho Station（JR有楽町駅).