Japanified burgers on the tourism menu

October 7th, 2011 by Felicity Hughes

Seared skipjack tuna served in a toasted bun with salad, available only in Kochi Prefecture

Would you go travel hundreds of kilometers just to get a bite of an unusual burger? According to Tokyo Walker, the residents of Kuroshio in Kochi Prefecture, Shikoku, are hoping foodies from around Japan will be induced to do just that. At a special one-day event in Ginza this summer they unveiled their katsuo tataki burger at a store selling Shikoku produce. Made with a slice of seared salted tuna, topped off with veggies, special sauce and katsuo flakes, the burger is a regular item on the menu in restaurants in Kuroshio.

Foodie tourism is a big thing in Japan: Several years back, one town was reinvigorated by an influx of tourists keen to test sanuki udon (noodles) on the basis of a popular book on the subject.

Lately, unusual burgers have also proved to be a big draw with travelers. The ramen burger, for example, invented a few years ago, has attracted tourists to Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture. Visitors are keen to sample this original snack, which utilizes fried noodles instead of bread as the burger bun, thought recent events may, understandably, have slowed trade down somewhat.

Others have followed suit. The hotate (scallop) burger, invented in Betsukai, Hokkaido, consists of two giant scallops wrapped and fried in a spring roll casing then popped in a burger bun along with lettuce, onion and a slice of cheese. Though the burger sounds a little odd to us, in the 2010 Gotouchi Gurume (local cuisine) Grand Prix in Ginza it pleased the judges and came first place.

If none of these burgers tickle your fancy, then perhaps you ought to Matsushima Island, Miyagi Prefecture, for a bite of oyster burger. Coated in batter and breadcrumbs then deep fried, the oyster is served between a bun with the usual garnishes. Sounds pretty yummy to us but we’re still not convinced we’d travel all that way just for some original fun in a bun.

If you are that type, though, be sure to book a ticket for Tottori Burger Festa, where you can sample all the local burger meibutsu (signature dishes) in one place.

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