Dom Dom Burger’s latest outside-the-box burger goes into our stomach.

Dom Dom Burger is simultaneously Japan’s oldest hamburger restaurant chain and also probably the one any random person is least likely to have eaten at. Despite opening in 1970, beating McDonald’s arrival in Japan by one calendar year, Dom Dom has less than 30 branches nationwide, spread across Japan in such a low-density network that you’re generally not going to come across one unless you’re purposefully looking for it.

Contrary to its low profile and laid-back marketing, Dom Dom Burger has been quietly creating some of the craziest, most attention-demanding, appetite-triggering burgers in Japan this year. There was the fried curry hamburger back in the summer, which was followed by the whole-crab burger in the fall.

Now, Dom Dom is bringing us a brand-new kind of edible insanity with this.

That earthy, ruffly mass in the sandwich’s center is a gigantic pile of maitake mushrooms, one of the crown jewels of Japan’s fungi-as-food culinary category. Maitake are a delicacy, but that doesn’t stop Dom Dom from using 200 grams (7.1 ounces) of the prized mushrooms in each and every Konya wa Maitake Burger, which translates loosely to “Maitake Burger for Dinner Tonight,” ostensibly because it’s such a luxurious hamburger that you’ll want to save it for your last meal of the day (and yes, there is a beef hamburger patty in there too, even if it’s hard to see).

While Dom Dom is serious about the “maitake” part of the Konya wa Maitake Burger’s name, it’s more flexible on the “konya” part, as it’s available at lunch time too. So on the sandwich’s release day, December 19, we sauntered over to the Dom Dom Burger branch in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, which is called Dom Dom Burger Plus, to try it (but just to be clear, the maitake burger is available at regular Dom Dom Burger branches too).

Given the marque ingredient, you might expect the Konya wa Maitake Burger to be outrageously expensive, but that’s actually not the case. Yeah, at 890 yen (US$6.25) it’s more than you’ll pay for a plain burger at more ubiquitous chains like McDonald’s or Mos Burger, but it’s definitely still in the affordable luxury bracket. The Ginza branch even offers it as a set with French fries and a drink for just 1,190 yen at lunch, which is what we opted for.

As we waited in salivatory anticipation, though, a nagging thought crept into our mind. Sure, the burger’s promotional photos looked great, but would the real thing’s visuals live up to that implied promise? Maybe we should lower our expectations, just in case-

…oh, well how about that? It looks every bit as good as the promotional pics had led us to believe it would!

Our first impression was that the Konya wa Maitake Burger looks like a full-on forest. Underneath the lettuce leaf is a dense stack of fried shiitake with a teriyaki glaze dripping down onto the patty, which is way down there at the bottom.

Taking a bite required us to squash the top of the bun down with both hands and open our jaw as wide as possible, but it was worth it when we bit into the burger and felt a rush of rich, earthy maitake flavor, enhanced by their enticing aroma and crisp texture. The teriyaki sauce provided an excellent mix of sweet, salty, and tangy accents, and, in a major surprise, the beef of the patty still shone through even with all the other flavors swirling around it.

As crazy as it looks, it turns out the Konya wa Maitake Burger is a thoroughly thought-out burger concept, with all of its parts working together to create a singularly satisfying meal through its mix of ingredients. Sure, like always with Dom Dom, this is a burger you’re probably going to have to go out of your way to eat, but if you’ve got any affection at all for maitake, it’s a detour you’ll be glad you made.

Related: Dom Dom Burger location list
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Insert images: Dom Dom Burger, SoraNews24

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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s thankful to Bubblegum Crisis for teaching him the word “konya.”

[ Read in Japanese ]