Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Best Hamburger in Japan is Tsubame Grill

I am often asked by foreigners, "What's the best hamburger in Japan?" This is a difficult question to answer as I know that they mean the American style of hamburger with the patty in between two slices of bread. So, I usually answer, "There are no good hamburgers in Japan."




Of course, there are some pretty good places, but for the longest time - and this is hard to believe but - generally speaking, hamburgers in Japan are so bad that I am often just answering, "McDonald's."


Sure, we have pretty good hamburgers at Johnny Rockets, and others, but, for all practical purposes, when you want a hamburger, you don't really want to ride a train for over 30 or 40 minutes just to get one... A hamburger is supposed to be convenient food. It is not convenient if I have to make a 1 hour round trip just to get a halfway decent burger that would be second-rate (at best) in the States.


Of course, just like the USA, the best burgers are made at the mom and pop shops. It's the same with ramen in Japan; the mom and pop shops blow away the chain restaurants.


But here is a caveat! If you want a proper "hamburger steak" (I mean the way hamburger was originally made - not the American style) then Japan does have a restaurant chain that blows away any other restaurants for taste, food quality and price. And that restaurant is Tsubame Grill.


Tsubame Grill has been around since 1930 and is, in my opinion, by far the best hamburger is Japan. Sorry Johnny Rockets, I've had yours. Good, but not this good.


Tsubame Grill in Shimbashi 1937


Not only that, but Tsubame Grill is a damned good deal... 


Lunch time start from 11:00 am until 5 pm at the location near my house (check the location nearest you as times vary). For a mere ¥1,090 I can get a delicious hamburger steak (all beef is 100% Japanese so you needn't worry about cheap, hormone filled, drug ridden meat from the USA). With this set, I get soup, salad, bread and real butter and a coffee. 


Winter Hamburger Steak and Vegetables lunch set. Includes
soup, salad, bread or rice and coffee or tea. ¥1,090.


You just cannot beat this price.


Also, this is not some dumpy, dirty restaurant. Tsubame Grill is fine enough for your first date and is an excellent sit down restaurant good enough for family, friends, and business acquaintances.


I think Tsubame Grill is one of the top restaurants in Tokyo considering price, quality, taste, cleanliness, ambiance and service. There are many restaurants who charge three times the price that Tsubame Grill does yet they fail to match the menu and service of Tsubame Grill.


Look for this logo


There are many reasons why Tsubame grill is tops. But another good reason is that they only have about 4 items on the menu in total: They have three styles of hamburger steak; Bouillabaisse; rolled cabbage; sausages and baked Salmon. I think that's just about it. Restaurants that specialize on making just one thing the best can often succeed and, because of a limited menu, they can hold prices down.  


Look at the menu, quality and cleanliness of Tsubame Grill here


Japan is famous for quality and cleanliness. 
Tsubame Grill will not disappoint.

Ah! But you say, "If this place is so good, then why don't more foreigners know about it?" Good question. There's two reasons for this that I can gather. One is that Tsubame Grill has no English on their menu and doesn't even have any English on their web site. 


Why is that? I gather that this place is so packed all the time with the locals that they have no need to push and advertise. Why spend money on advertising when you already have the Holy Grail of advertising? And that is an excellent reputation by word of mouth of the locals.


It is for this reason that I have never seen any other foreigners at our local restaurant, yet there are always lines of people waiting to get it.


But fear not my loyal readers! I have to tell you a secret! Even though there is no English on the menu, I will tell you all you need to know to order from this fantastic establishment. Just remember the name of the restaurant; Tsubame Grill. Just order the Tsubame Steak. You'll see. It is out of this world. 


Tsubame Grill web page (not in English)


Tsubame Grill Locations (with maps - click on red lettering):



つばめグリル 銀座通り本店(建て替え工事の為休業中)Ginza HQ
〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座1-8-20 TEL:03-3561-3788

つばめグリル 品川駅前店 Shinagawa Sta.
〒108-0074 東京都港区高輪4-10-26 TEL:03-3441-0121

つばめグリル 玉川高島屋S・C店 Takashimaya Futagotamagawa
〒158-8502 東京都世田谷区玉川3-17-1 玉川高島屋S・C内 TEL:03-3709-0117

つばめグリル ルミネ横浜店 Lumine Yokohama
〒220-0011 神奈川県横浜市西区高島2-16-1 ルミネ横浜7F TEL:045-453-6752

つばめグリル ルミネ新宿店 Lumine Shinjuku
〒160-0022 東京都新宿区西新宿1-1-5 ルミネ新宿1 7F  TEL:03-3348-4347

つばめグリル 茅ヶ崎ラスカ店 Chigasaki Rasuka
〒253-0043 神奈川県茅ヶ崎市元町1-1 茅ヶ崎ラスカ 6F TEL:0467-87-3807

つばめグリル キュービックプラザ新横浜店 9 Big Plaza Shin Yokohama
〒222-0026 神奈川県横浜市港北区篠原町2937 キュービックプラザ新横浜 1F(別館)
TEL:045-474-4046

つばめグリル ルミネ池袋店 Lumine Ikebukuro
〒171-0021 東京都豊島区西池袋1-11-4 ルミネ池袋7F TEL:03-5954-8278

つばめグリル 大船ルミネウイング店 Ofuna Lumine Wing
〒247-0056 神奈川県鎌倉市大船1-4-1 ルミネウイング7F TEL:0467-48-5090

つばめグリル タカシマヤタイムズスクエア店 Kashimaya Times Square
〒151-8580 東京都渋谷区千駄ヶ谷5-24-2 タカシマヤタイムズスクエア13F
TEL:03-5361-1859

つばめグリル ホテルメッツ川崎店 Hotel Metz Kawasaki
〒212-0013 神奈川県川崎市幸区堀川町72-2 ホテルメッツ川崎1F TEL:044-555-3171

つばめグリル アトレ恵比寿店 Atore Ebisu
〒150-8508 東京都渋谷区恵比寿南1-5-5 アトレ恵比寿6F TEL:03-5475-8429

つばめグリル 錦糸町テルミナ2店 Kinshicho Terumina 2
〒130-0013 東京都墨田区錦糸1-2-47 錦糸町テルミナ2内 TEL:03-5619-7023

GRILL 1930 つばめグリル ルミネ町田店 Lumine Machida
〒194-0013 東京都町田市原町田6-1-11 ルミネ町田 9F TEL:042-739-3388

つばめグリル 渋谷マークシティ店 Shibuya Mark City
〒150-0043 東京都渋谷区道玄坂1-12-3 渋谷マークシティレストランアベニュー 4F
TEL:03-5428-3403

つばめグリル 銀座コア店 Ginza Core
〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座5-8-20 銀座コアB1F TEL:03-3569-2701

つばめKITCHEN アトレ品川店 Atore Shinagawa
〒108-0075 東京都港区港南2-18-1 アトレ品川4F 3140 TEL:03-6717-0926

つばめKITCHEN 丸の内店 Marunochi
〒105-0005 東京都千代田区丸ノ内1-6-4 丸ノ内オアゾ 5F TEL:03-5252-7900

GRILL 1930 つばめグリル アトレ上野店 Ueno
〒110-0005 東京都台東区上野7-1-1 アトレ上野 レトロ館 2F 2041 TEL:03-5826-5809

GRILL 1930 つばめグリル ルミネ北千住店 Kita Senju
〒120-0026 東京都足立区千住旭町42-2 ルミネ北千住8F TEL:03-3879-6091

CASA MONTES Ginza
〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座5-9-15 銀座清月堂ビル B1F・B2F TEL:03-3572-3071

炭焼 Kura
〒108-0074 東京都港区高輪4-10-26 つばめグリル品川駅前店 3F TEL:03-3441-0122

洋惣菜専門店 つばめグリル
〒220-8539 神奈川県横浜市西区南幸1-1-1 横浜シァル B1F TEL:045-312-6991

MADE IN JAPAN つばめグリル ecute品川店
〒108-0074 東京都港区高輪3-26-27 JR東日本 品川駅構内 TEL:03-3444-5181

つばめグリル DELI アトレ恵比寿店
〒150-8508 東京都渋谷区恵比寿南1-5-5 アトレ恵比寿 3F TEL:03-5475-8465

つばめグリル DELI エキュート東京店
〒105-0005 東京都千代田区丸の内1-9-1 JR東日本 東京駅構内1階 サウスコート内 TEL:03-3211-8981

1 comment:

Ira Hata said...

I used to go to the Tsubame Grill by your house (my in-laws lived in Nikotama back in the day) often with my ex-wife and her parents before we got married.

They turned me on to the place and I was hooked.

By the way, the best American style hamburger in the US (if no the world) is In-N-Out. Too bad they don't come to Japan. They'll kick McDonald's AND Mos Burger's ass any day of the week.

"i"