Does this washed cheese burger smell as bad as advertised, and if so, what does it taste like?

Here at SoraNews24, we test out a lot of food. It’s all for the sake of journalism, of course; after all, we wouldn’t want you, dear readers, to waste your hard-earned money on expensive, luxury ramen if it isn’t worth it, and we have to make sure the Pokémon cafe’s new tropical sweets are as tasty and they are cute.

Mr. Sato is one of our main food testers, and not begrudgingly, I might add. That’s why, when he received a flyer in the mail advertising “the World’s Smelliest Burger”, he had no choice but to go check it out. It’s called the Kusami Burger; no, not the “umami” burger, as you might think at first glance. “Kusami” means “bad smell” in Japanese, so you won’t want to confuse the two.

Mr. Sato was intrigued by the claims of the advertisement, so as soon as he could, he rushed off to the Tokyo burger shop Burg Holic, a cafe and diner that just recently opened last year near Yotsuya Sanchome station.

They specialize in hamburgers and Salisbury steaks (also known as hamba-gu, which, again, is not to be confused with hamba-ga-, which are hamburgers). Unfortunately, at the moment the building’s facade is under construction, so the cafe, which is on the second floor, is a bit nondescript, though you can see its signs if you look carefully between the scaffolding.

The individual items on the menu are a little bit pricey, but cafe burgers in Japan often are, and this shop seems to be a “gourmet burger” restaurant, so Mr. Sato wasn’t put off. The standard “Holic Burger”, which is the cheapest on the menu, is about 750 yen (US$6.72) for a 150-gram (five-ounce) patty, and the most expensive, which is a Guacamole Cheese Burger is 1,670 yen.

But of course, Mr. Sato only had eyes for the reputed Kusami Burger. Apparently, they only make five of them a day, so he was a little worried that they’d be sold out before he could order one, but he was in luck! They had one left for him to sample. Without hesitation he ordered one with a side of fries for an extra 300 yen.

The description on the menu, however, was somewhat perplexing:

“Long, long ago, somewhere far beyond the Milky Way, a wise man once said, ‘Smelly foods are delicious.’ We thought that perhaps that is not always true, but then we thought about it some more, and realized that it might sometimes be true. So we released the first round of Kusami Burgers.”

Mr. Sato scratched his head at this, but shrugged it away. He was more interested in why, at the bottom, it said “Please refrain from ordering this burger if you are under 18 years of age.”

“What the heck?” he thought to himself. “Could it really be that bad?” Steeling himself for what was to come, he waited patiently for his smelly burger to arrive, and when it was placed in front of him…

It didn’t smell at all! The french fries actually smelled more strongly than the burger itself. Wondering if maybe he had to get his nose up close to it, Mr. Sato pulled up the top off of the sandwich and gave it a good sniff, but it still didn’t smell like much of anything. Disappointed, he replaced the top half of the bun, thinking despondently, “I thought this was supposed to be the world’s smelliest cheeseburger…”

Despite his despair, he was hungry, so he picked it up and took a big bite. “Oh!” he thought. “This is it!” The meaty flavor of the patty and the toasted taste of the bun wafted through his mouth and nose, and in between that the smell and flavor of the cheese forced its way through like a desperate fan pushing to the front of a crowd at their favorite idol’s concert. “So that’s where the smelliness comes in!” cried Mr. Sato joyfully.

The burger is topped with washed cheese, for which the rind is frequently washed with brine so that bacteria can grow on the exterior. That’s what causes the stinky smell and strong flavor, which became stronger and more resilient with every bite Mr. Sato took. It was delicious; the mild spice brought about by the ageing process really drew out the meaty flavor of the patty.

It definitely was a stinky burger, once he bit into it, but it wasn’t an unbearable kind of stinky, said Mr. Sato. Compared to goat cheese, which certainly has its own distinctive smell, the washed cheese wasn’t really that strong. However, this was apparently only the first round of Kusami Burgers at Burg Holic, so we might expect the next one to be even stinkier. This first round is only available until September 30, so make sure you try it before it’s gone!

Restaurant information
Burg Holic / バーグホリック
Address: Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Yotsuya 3-3 Espace Consale Building 2F
東京都新宿区四谷3-3 エスパスコンセールビル2F
Open: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sundays)

Photos ©SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]