Japanese hamburger chain Lotteria‘s newest luxury burger has finally landed, and it features legendary Kobe beef made from special livestock reared on pure water and premium feed. Kobe beef is of such renown that there are even rumours that cattle from the area are allowed to sip on beer, listen to fine music and enjoy a good massage so that their meat tastes simply divine.
So what would the fast food version of this luxury beef taste like? We were so curious we had to swing by Lotteria to pick up one of the new Kobe beef burgers as soon as they were released. Check out all the delicious details after the jump!
Lotteria’s special burger retails for a whopping 1,500 yen (US$12.71) including a medium-sized drink of your choice. Hardly the kind of price you’d normally expect to pay at a fast food restaurant, but this is Kobe beef after all, so we didn’t mind shelling out the extra yennies.
In keeping with the premium theme, the burger comes in an unusually-shaped box, with a square base and eight curved panels complete with faux wood grain. It’s like a fast food jewellery box!
The Kobe burger is the latest in a series of top-quality beef burgers released by the hamburger chain on the 29th day of every month. Why the 29th? In Japanese, the numbers 2 and 9 are read ni and ku, respectively, which when put together sounds like the Japanese word for meat: niku (肉). The Japanese do love a good pun!
Once we had it out of its fancy box, we were a little surprised at the size of the Kobe Burger – it could easily fit in the palm of your hand, so anyone with even a regular appetite could finish this off in five or six good bites. That said, we didn’t come here to gorge, we came to savour the quality meat, so we assumed that this would be a case of quality over quantity as we slowly unwrapped the burger.
The Kobe beef patty comes sandwiched between white, sesame seed-sprinkled buns, giving it a surprisingly sophisticated appearance. This being a decidedly Japanese burger, it seems only right that the buns are made from rice flour, which gives them a soft yet slightly more glutinous texture than those made with wheat. Bread made with rice flour can often tastes quite plain, but no doubt this was an intentional choice on Lotteria’s part so that the flavour of the roasted sesame seeds, and of course the beef waiting beneath, could come right to the front.
OK, enough teasing. It’s time to look inside!
While Lotteria’s advertising poster shows a neat dollop of sauce sitting atop a fat patty, we were surprised to see that the sauce had disappeared into the top bun. Being seasoned fast food experts, however, we know burgers aren’t meant to be pretty; they’re meant to be eaten. After cutting our burger in two to get a few cheeky photos, we dived right in.
The meat really is the star of the show here. It’s succulent and moist and has an amazing melt-in-the-mouth quality that Kobe beef is famous for. The flavour is miles away from your regular fast food patty, and it even leaves you with a pleasant after-taste – blindfolded, you’d never guess that this beef came from a fast food joint. As expected, the accompanying lettuce is nothing to write home about but it does provide a crunchy third texture to complement the silky smoothness of the meat and the soft chewiness of the rice flour buns.
The sauce sits mostly on the top and bottom buns and is unusual in that it contains extra pieces of Kobe beef. Appropriately called “Kobe beef meat sauce”, it features apples, bouillon, and locally produced onions. The resulting flavour is rich and gravy-like, yet light with a sweet saltiness.
The verdict? We’re always impressed with the texture and flavour of Kobe beef but this is the first time we’ve had it ground up in a patty and served up as a 1,500-yen burger. And that’s what makes this a real treat. It’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into the textures and flavours here so that they really compliment and showcase the luxury beef. This is a seriously good hamburger.
Whether or not you should spend your hard-earned dough on one of these burgers really depends on your end-goal. If you’ve got a hankering for a burger at a fast food joint, the price point will be steep and you’ll likely be suspiciously aware of how light your wallet feels on the walk home. If you feel like trying Kobe beef but don’t want to fork out a huge amount for one of the most expensive meats in the world, however, this is an opportunity you should absolutely jump on!