The unusual burger is one of a number of restaurant meals usually not available to the public that can be purchased at a very special food event for a limited time.

While Tokyo is constantly brimming with food fairs and festivals, there’s one unique event on the calendar that Japanese foodies all look forward to. It’s the “an Makanai” festival, which gets its name from the Japanese part-time worker recruitment company “an”, its major sponsor, and the Japanese word “makanai“, which literally translates to “boarding” or “catering”. In Japan, “makanai” is a term used to describe food that’s made by staff for staff, at establishments like restaurants and ryokan inns, where quick and easy meals can be made in a short time with available ingredients. For a foodie, the chance to get a taste of these meals that aren’t usually available to paying customers is a mouthwatering dream, and from 10 – 13 November, 15 restaurants from around Tokyo will be sharing their staff in-house meals with visitors at the festival.

▼ These are the dishes that can be purchased at the festival.


With experience working in the food industry, our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato has eaten his fair share of makanai foods in the past, so he was curious to head down to the festival on opening day to check it out. When he arrived on Thursday, he was pleased to find it relatively empty, meaning he wouldn’t have to wait in line to buy his grub. While it wasn’t busy on the weekday, the area will probably be teeming with people on the weekend.


With so many delicious meals on offer, all priced at a very reasonable 500 yen (US$4.70), Mr Sato contemplated feasting on them all, in the style of one of his renowned man vs food challenges, but instead he chose to act like a foodie and review a few select favourites from the list. He started with a beef curry from the Kichijoji-based curry chain Nikuyama.


This was exactly what Mr Sato felt like eating on this cold and grey autumn day. The delicious sauce had a great, rich flavour, instantly warming him to his cockles.


While it reminded him of home-cooking, the curry also contained large pieces of good-quality soft beef, which quickly received Mr Sato’s seal of approval.


Next up, our reporter paid a visit to Kakunoshin, a chain restaurant specialising in aged meats, for a taste of their unusual Lettuce Burger.


Fresh and delicious, the “burger” brought out the taste of the crumbed minced pork cutlet inside by using some large, fresh leaves of lettuce in place of the usual burger buns. Mr Sato could easily imagine restaurant staff putting this together for a quick meal on their lunch breaks.


Next, it was on to Kimuzukashiya, a restaurant from Nagano known for its famous karaage fried chicken, which won first place in a national competition for most delicious karaage.


They were serving up a “Jumbo Karaage” which had been marinated in a delicious sauce before being fried, which gave the juicy chicken a delicious flavour. Combined with a tasty tartare sauce, this was an addictive piece of chicken that Mr Sato could go back for again and again, but now there was something much more enticing that had caught his attention.


It was the Loco Moco Pancake Burger from the hugely popular Waikiki eatery Eggs ‘n Things.


Famous for its pancakes, Eggs ‘n Things has 16 locations around Japan, but none of them have this monstrous meal on the menu. For Mr Sato, his encounter with the incredible-looking burger was love at first sight, which only blossomed into a stronger sense of affection with every delicious bite. What he initially thought would be a sweet-tasting burger turned out to be something else entirely, with the three fluffy, freshly baked pancakes complimenting not one but two juicy meat patties with a deliciously doughy flavour and texture. Containing lettuce, tomato and a fried egg as well, the restaurant’s unique take on the “All-Day Breakfast” concept was astounding, and unbelievably good value for just 500 yen!


Feeling full, Mr Sato noticed that more and more people had arrived, with many of them crowded around the truck selling beef tongue yakisoba. He decided to head back to the office and give the beef tongue a try another day.


The an Makanai Festival will be on at Nakano Central Park in Tokyo until 8:00 p.m. on 13 November. It’s one of the most unusual food fairs you’ll come across while in the city, so be sure to stop by for a taste of makanai cuisine while you can!

Event Information
an Makanai Festival / an まかないフェス
Address: Tokyo-to, Nakano-ku, Nakano 4-10, Park Avenue, Nakano Central Park, Tokyo
東京都中野区中野4-10中野セントラルパーク パークアベニュー
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (10 – 12 November; until 8:00 p.m. on 13 November)

Photos ©RocketNews24
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