I've been lucky to have been placed here in Nishinoimya when I first came to Japan. I didn't choose it, my exchange program paired me with a nice lady that lived in the hills that overlook the city. Nishinomiya has given me my wonderful wife, many friends, a job, introduced me to sento, and has many great hamburger shops. My two favorite hamburgers are both here in this wonderful city.
Awajishima burger / 淡路島バーガー
You wouldn't know Awajishima burger existed unless someone told you about it. This little shack is about the size of a normal city bus is located in an area of warehouses that sell fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and other food products to the restaurants of Nishinomiya. There are 5 seats on the inside, a CD player, a couple of coolers, a small counter, a grill and a fryer. The menu is just as bare. Hamburgers: large or regular. Toppings: cheese, onion ring, bacon, egg. Side orders: Onion rings or french fries. It's basic. It's raw.
The ingredients that make up Awajishima burger are, when possible, sourced from the island of the same name that sits between Hyogo and Shikoku. Awajishima (Awaji Island) is famous for its sweet onions and is a close to home tourist spot for many in the Hanshin area. The meat is thick and peppered. It is a little crumbly. The bun has a thin golden brown crust on the outside and is sponge soft under that, the flavor is a bit sweet like Hawaiian bread. The cheese is real and has a strong cheddar flavor, something rare in Japan.
You have to be careful when you eat this thing. First you don't unwrap it. That foil is protection for your shirt. Guard it well. The offical instructions on how to eat the burger, included with every order, states that you have to first squish the burger then carefully peel away the tin foil as you eat it. Typically you'll end up with a pool of sauce at the bottom of the foil. ProTip: Ask for less sauce - they normally put too much sauce on those burgers.
I typically end up spending 1,000 yen here getting a large burger with bacon and cheese toppings and a side.
Esquerre / イスケール
Closed Monday and Every 3rd Tuesday
Closed Monday and Every 3rd Tuesday
A more refined taste when compared with raw flavor of the Awajishima Burger, Esquerre has a more hipster/retro feel to their restaurant. While Awajishima is a Hawaiian shack playing Jack Johnson, Esquerre has 1960's era advertisements on the wall and they play Feist. At Esquerre you'll get table service, a much less messy burger and a more diverse menu, but you'll be paying more. Oh yea, they have root beer!
I love the bun on the Dynamite Burger, as they call it. It's hard and crusty. Toasted just perfectly. The sesame seeds tie it all together. The meat is also firm. It's been formed perfectly and doesn't crumble. This burger comes with a napkin to put it in, and recommended, you an eat it without and not get too messy. The burger always comes with 3 potato wedges although you can order more. While the Dynamite Burger is the main dish at Esquerre, they also have a few sandwiches, rice dishes and their great chili fries. Be sure to check out the great take-away bakery underneath the restaurant.
I typically end up spending about ¥2,000 for my meal here. A large bacon cheese burger is ¥1,350 add on the avocado (+¥150), a can of root beer, and the chili fries things can get a bit expensive. You get what you pay for however and it's well worth it.
Another thing to know is getting to Esquerre without a car can be an ordeal. I guess you could take a bus from Nishinoimya Najio, or Sanda Station. Or the new
Flowers in Kurakuenguchi has a great Gorgonzola burger. A must for any stinky cheese fan.
The Wexford Tavern, also in Kurakuenguchi, serves up a mighty hamburger. Both my wife and I work here so you can chat with a fellow blogger, drink some Guinness or the locally brewed Rokko I.P.A. and have a great hamburger all at the same time. The Wex also has a blue cheese burger along with a menu of great pub food.
View HAMBURGER! in a larger map