Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Firehouse, Hongo

Boooooooy am I happy with this picture. I took one without the biker, but then I saw him coming, and BOOM!

Anyway, now you know what Firehouse looks like. I've been riding my bike by here for years on my 20km 'city loop' and never noticed one of Tokyo's best-known burger shops. And best. It's good. Still noticeably Japanese-style, but good.

Todd and I had plenty of time to wait while Tucker found her way there from their kids' school induction / prayer meeting / hymn sing. We sat outside in the early Spring sun for a bit, though not on the burger-shaped stools lined up in the waiting area, and then managed to get the antiquey 4-seat table in back.

There are a bunch of really neat-looking books on the shelves back there. Those same shelves feature stickers at regular intervals saying "PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH". I guess this is to keep ketchup off the pages, but they had proper squeeze bottles for the condiments, and I was betting that we could get plenty of red and yellow goo on the books without touching them.

Meanwhile plenty of magic was happening on the grill. Firehouse is Japanese and thus tends toward thin, griddled, well-done burgers. On their web site it says "burger theater", and I guess the ability to sit at the counter and look directly onto the grill is what they're talking about. I wasn't thinking it was that unusual - it's the classic diner arrangement after all, where there isn't space for a separate room or a grill that isn't oriented like this - but I guess in modern conventions it's become a lot rarer.

It's a good burger. The bun is high and soft and eggy (I hesitate to say "unctuous brioche bun", for what I hope are oblivious reasons), the cheese is abundant, the patty is a bit thicker than you'd expect in Japan and cooked fully like I prefer. I'm afraid the beef flavor didn't shine through. That's my fault though - the chili topping, while not what we expect back in Texas, was a fair simulacrum taste-wise, with a healthy portion of verisimilitude, and thus crowded out the more subtle barnyard and feral flavors of cow. The fries were OK for their type. I don't think wedges are the way fries should be done. Let's agree to disagree on that (or agree to agree). No one would say there were very many of them either.

[Aside: check Hiroaki's review here. If he doesn't work for the restaurant, he's doing a textbook job of sounding like someone who does.]

Burger specialist reviewers tend to refer to this as the 'innards' or 'upskirt' shot. In this case, it looked so gross I had to include it.

Another gross thing I learned about today was Mormons. No, I'm kidding, they're not gross. The two recovering Mormons I lunched with are really nice people. But they did tell me about 'fry sauce' - mayo and ketchup mixed together. Interestingly, it seems to be popular in South America and Scandinavia too.

Coincidence? I think not.

1 comment:

  1. Growing up we had 'fry' sauce like that but put relish in it too and called it Russian dressing.