Despite having once pulled out of the country, sorely missed hamburger chain Wendy’s returned Japan in 2011 with just a single location. In response to calls for additional restaurants, Wendy’s cut the tape on its new Roppongi store in August this year, bringing with it the special ‘Ocean Premium’ range, which includes two new ‘Japan Premium’ hamburgers.

So what about these newcomers is ‘premium’, exactly? In a word: lobster! Far from being made from cheap, compacted seafood cut-offs, Wendy’s are using whole pieces of genuine, thick lobster in their new hamburgers, each one as tender and meaty as you could ever dream. The Lobster Surf & Turf burger sandwiches a traditional beef patty and generous chunks of lobster between soft buns, while the Caviar & Lobster burger sees the lobster take the star role, topped off with- you guessed it-real caviar. Both burgers are undeniably tempting, but, priced at ¥1280 each, they certainly don’t come cheap. So which of these two new creations should the gastronomic adventurer attempt first?

・Lobster Surf & Turf Burger

A combination of Wendy’s unique beef patty and chunky lobster, this is a genuinely luxurious burger with plenty of volume. The patty itself is delicately seasoned, not to mention juicy, and it definitely requires a fair amount of willpower not to devour the entire thing mere seconds after the first bite, especially when knowing that the lobster was about to make its entrance.

When it did arrive, however, the lobster- the newcomer we’d been salivating for- struggled to make its presence felt. Despite existing in big, thick chunks between the buns, for the sake of maintaining its original flavour, little is added to the lobster in the way of seasoning, and as a result it’s soon lost behind the taste of the rich beef patty. Judging by the name of the burger, the lobster should feature alongside the patty on equal footing, but the only time it ever really stepped into the limelight was as a slightly sweet aftertaste. After the patty’s incredible warm-up act, we couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the lobster’s underwhelming performance.

・Caviar & Lobster Burger

It all comes together in a bite: light and fluffy buns, then crisp, fresh vegetables, and then… full, tender lobster! It’s here!

With each bite, the taste of the lobster comes forward more and more, spreading through your mouth and leaving no taste-bud left unchecked. The crispness of the vegetables combined with the mildly-salted mustard mayonnaise do a superb job of complementing the lobster’s sweet flavour- this is one genuinely delicious burger. If you’re looking for that lobster taste, we heartily recommend ordering up one of these little beauties.

There was, however, one thing we were disappointed with: the caviar. In all honesty, we barely even noticed it. Eaten on its own, caviar is undeniably delicious, and it no-doubt helps bring out other subtle flavours in the burger, but we were more than satisfied by the taste of the lobster alone and felt that the caviar wasn’t entirely necessary. Although it’s an issue of personal taste, we found ourselves wondering whether, if it helped bring the price of the burger down little, why not omit the caviar altogether?

Wendy’s is well known for its motto ‘Quality is Our Recipe,’ which is used in many countries across the globe, and the ingredients used in both the Lobster Surf & Turf and Caviar & Lobster burgers are without a doubt of incredibly high quality, with nothing sacrificed for the sake of keeping prices down. It’s the very quality of these ingredients, however– with each able to stand on its own perfectly well– that makes the imbalance between the flavours so striking, and leaves us wondering whether that same sense of quality couldn’t be applied to a slightly simpler recipe…

[ Read in Japanese ]