From adding cream cheese to dunking in a deep fryer, Americans have taken the most iconic of Japanese cuisine—sushi—and added their own delicious spins. But because all is fair in love and food, Japan has done the exact same thing with the classic hamburger. Whether it’s reimagining what a bun can look like or creating unexpected ingredient combos, the Japanese make burgers with lettuce, tomato, and pickles seem downright passé.
1. SAKURA BURGER // MCDONALD’S
In 2014, McDonald’s decided to celebrate Japan's cherry blossom season with its pink-hued, limited-run Sakura Burger. The sandwich had a special pink sauce (sakura-flavored mayo with Japanese radishes) and an egg on top of a teriyaki patty, but what really made the burger pop was the light pink bun.
2. KURO PEARL BURGER // BURGER KING
Burger King Japan brought the world the limited-edition Kuro Pearl Burger in 2014. To get that distinctive color, the black buns and sliced cheese were made with bamboo charcoal, and the black onion-and-garlic sauce included squid ink as an ingredient. The black burger briefly came to the United States for Halloween a year later with A-1 steak sauce. (People who ate it reported it turned their poop green.)
3. CHOCOLATE AND HONEY MUSTARD GRILLED CHICKEN BURGER // LOTTERIA
Valentine’s Day means chocolate, and Lotteria, a Japanese restaurant chain known for its outrageous and limited-edition burgers, didn’t want to miss out on the celebration. To honor the most romantic of holidays, it offered up a brand-new chicken burger in 2014. The chicken was marinated in a white wine and onion and garlic mixture, then topped with honey mustard sauce—but the real star was the chocolate sauce, which came in a separate packet for drizzling.
4. FRENCH CRULLER BURGER// MOS BURGER
have been around for over a decade now, but the Japanese chains Mos Burger and Mr. Donut turned the entire mash-up on its head when they partnered in 2014 to create the French Cruller Burger, a spiral chorizo sausage with chili sauce, onions, tomato, mayo, and lettuce, sandwiched between a soft French cruller. This wasn't the first time the brands worked together to leave their mark on burger world. Past creations include a Red Bean and Custard Rice Burger and a Grilled Beef Rice Burger.
5. NY PIZZA BURGER // BURGER KING
Christmas dinner looks a little different in Japan, with KFC reigning supreme as the holiday meal of choice. Burger King decided to get in on the Christmas market in its own way with the NY Pizza Burger in 2011. A similar dish debuted in New York the year before, but the Japanese version upped the ante. The 8.8-inch-diameter burger, which had four overlapping patties and cost about $21.50, came in two styles: Fresh Avocado (just adding avocado) and Cheese Nacho (it included tortilla chips, cheese sauce, and jalapeños).
6. WET BURGER // MOS BURGER
Take one plain hamburger, submerge it in a ketchup-y sauce, and what do you get? The Wet Burger, which is exactly what it sounds like. Mos Burger’s interpretation of the Turkish islak burger, the Wet Burger comes in a wrapper, so it can be eaten without soaking your hands in sauce (Mos Burger’s much beloved Napolitan tomato sauce seasoned with garlic and onion). Oddly, though, only half the burger had the new toppings—the other half consisted of standard burger toppings.
7. PURPLE MAGIC BACON DOUBLE EXCELLENT CHEESEBURGER // LOTTERIA
Special-edition Halloween treats abound in Japan during the month of October, but Lotteria upped their themed-burger game with this year's offering: two beef patties, two cheese slices, and a thick slice of bacon. The bacon was meant to resemble a tongue, and the “purple magic” in the burger’s name referred to the purple cheese sauce, which got its color from powdered Okinawan sweet potato. The entire burger was served up in a coffin-shaped box.
8. FOIE GRAS ROSSINI BURGER // WENDY’S
In 2011, after two years out of the Japanese market, Wendy’s returned with a vengeance and a brand-new $16 burger. The Foie Gras Rossini was a spin on the French dish Tournedos Rossini, both of which include slices of foie gras and truffle sauce. The burger was taken off the menu a year later after PETA campaigned against it.
9. BURGER WITH EVERYTHING ON IT// LOTTERIA
Lotteria took one look at McDonald’s Japan’s Giga Big Mac (a gigantic sandwich with 2.8 times the meat of a regular Big Mac), and decided to really step it up with its Burger With Everything On It. What can you expect if you order one of these limited-time monsters? Four patties (hamburger, cheeseburger, fried shrimp, and rib), bacon, cheese, a soft-boiled egg, lettuce, cabbage, tomato, and onion. Plus, a slurry-sauce of teriyaki, mayo, spicy mayo, tartar sauce, meat sauce, and ketchup. Turns out, there's truth in advertising after all.