Japan is known for its succulent wagyu beef, but most people familiar with the meat probably wouldn’t expect it to be served as … a hamburger! But that’s exactly what Japanese fast food chain Lotteria is doing. And it’s not just a one-time promotion either; they’re serving a different kind of wagyu hamburger each month as a campaign over a period of about a year. And since the new hamburger they just released at the end of September involved a highly interesting ingredient for a hamburger, we simply had to go out and try it! Yes, it’s the “Tochigi Wagyu Steak Hamburger with Tochiotome Strawberry Sauce” (Tochigi Wagyu Hamburg Steak Burger (Tochiotome Sauce)), and we couldn’t wait to see how strawberries and wagyu mix!

As part of their wagyu campaign, Lotteria have been releasing a differnt wagyu hamburger on the 29th of each month, the particular date having been chosen because the numbers two (ni) and nine (kyu or ku) in Japanese combined sound like the word for meat (niku), and September’s hamburger features beef from Tochigi Prefecture in Central Japan. In addition, the strawberry sauce used in the hamburger is made from Tochiotome, a famous brand of strawberries grown in Tochigi.

▼When we got to a nearby Lotteria shop, we saw the large sign advertising their wagyu hamburger campaign with the lower part of the sign announcing that the  “Tochigi Wagyu Steak Hamburger with Tochiotome Strawberry Sauce” was currently on sale.

▼Once we entered the shop, we saw the Tochigi Wagyu Hamburger being advertised above the counter, right in the middle. Okay, at 1,300 yen (US$11.84) with either a salad, medium fries or a regular drink, it’s certainly much more expensive than what you would expect to see on a fast food menu.

▼We ended up ordering the hamburger with a drink. P1100217

▼The box containing the hamburger showed all the different wagyu hamburgers that have been and will be sold during the campaign, along with the area of Japan the beef is from.P1100227

▼And now, to see how the actual hamburger tastes! It came neatly wrapped in a white paper bag.

▼We unwrapped the hamburger in anticipation and out it came, dripping with the whitish strawberry sauce!

▼Here’s a closer look — you can see the hamburger is flavored with plenty of not just strawberry sauce but a rich-looking demi-glace sauce as well. According to Lotteria, the strawberry sauce is made from a Béchamel sauce sweetened with Tochiotome jam and just a dash of  Tochiotome liqueur. The demi-glace sauce contains various ingredients including a red wine-flavored condiment, bouillon and apples.    P1100236

▼The hamburger patty was quite thick (6mm [about 1/5 in] thick, according to Lotteria’s release), as you can tell from this picture.

And how did the Tochigi Wagyu Hamburger taste? The meat was indeed juicy and full of flavor, so kudos to the quality of the Tochigi beef used.  We could really taste the meat, and the thick demi-glace sauce matched the fatty beef quite well. If it had been a lighter sauce, it probably would have been a weak contrast to the strong, fatty flavor of the patty. However, we did think that the strawberry sauce was maybe a bit light. It probably didn’t hurt the overall taste of the hamburger and even added a bit of a creamy smoothness, but the flavor of strawberry didn’t seem that strong, so it ended up tasting somewhat like an ordinary cream sauce. Also, we guess we should mention that the hamburger itself was quite small, especially compared to the burgers you may be used to in countries outside of Japan, so you may find 1,300 yen to be pricey for the somewhat humble-sized wagyu creation. That said, the beef patty was good enough that the hamburger overall was very much a pleasure to eat, and we wouldn’t mind having it again!

▼The hamburger also came with a postcard to enter a sweepstakes to win 4,000 yen ($36.44) worth of Tochigi wagyu. Ohhh, this, we have to enter!P1100251

So, it seems our conclusion is that hamburger made from wagyu is indeed, succulent and tasty. And with the Matsuzaka beef hamburger coming out in November and the Kobe beef hamburger in January next year, the best may be yet to come. Hmm …  we have a feeling we may be going to Lotteria quite often in the coming months!

Reference: Lotteria website (Japanese)
Top Image: Lotteria website
All other photos: RocketNews24