Every day on my way to work, I pass one of the many outlets of fast-food giant Lotteria. Usually, I grab a cup of coffee there and drink it as I head to the office, but this morning something new caught my eye.

They’re selling Matsusaka Beef hamburgers? Hamburgers made from one of the best quality meats in Japan, famous for its exquisite marbling? But at 1800 yen (about $23), that’s a pretty steep price tag for a fast-food burger… Will it be worth it?

Although I hesitated at the thought that I could get 18 hamburgers at MacDonald’s for that price, I decided fate had put this challenge in my path, ponied up the dough and placed my order.

When the employee handed me the take-away bag, I immediately pulled out the burger and I confess I was kind of impressed by the packaging. I may have just been disoriented from spending 1800 yen at a Lotteria, but still, it was a nice box.

I opened it and was greeted with the sight of a totally normal-looking hamburger patty sandwiched between some very white buns. Other than the whiteness of the bread, it looked like your average teriyaki burger. Poking into things a bit further, I found a little bit of lettuce and the unusual addition of some mashed potatoes, but other than that, it really appeared to be a garden-variety burger. Supposedly, the glaze was a red-wine sauce, but a poor reporter like myself can only compare it to teriyaki.

A bit disheartened, I took a bite. Hmm. Well, it tasted better than a regular burger, I can say that. But although it was tasty, I could have had SIX perfectly good teriyaki burgers for the same price. Buyer’s remorse set in.

After finishing, I took a look at the Lotteria website. Apparently, they began selling the Matsusaka burgers this year to reward people for persevering through tough times. Well, I suppose I can get behind that idea, but if you ask me, six teriyaki burgers would be a better, and more satisfying, reward.

[ Read in Japanese ]