The simple Hamburg steak, essentially a grilled ground beef patty, traces its origins back to late 19th-century Europe, but its contemporary incarnation is most closely associated with Japanese yoshoku. This local take on ‘Western’ cuisine and its meatiest representative get charmingly homely treatment at Monburan, a no-frills eatery just a quick stroll along Kaminarimon-dori from the entrance to the Nakamise shopping arcade. Take the faux-brick entrance as a taste of things to come: step inside and you’ll soon notice quirks like sake bottles lined up in wine racks and lively staff joking with each other while delivering sizzlingly hot iron plates to hungry diners. This carelessly border-crossing streak is also reflected in the menu, centred around a selection of hamburgs available in an international array of styles – French, Dutch, Japanese, even Mexican. These can then be combined with salad, soup, rice and so on, or abandoned in favour of a sirloin steak or chicken cutlet.
Still, mouth-wateringly juicy patties (all ¥950, sides cost extra) are the main attraction here, and our French version (drenched in demi-glace sauce, of course) lived up to the billing. We could have done without the accompanying noodles that added an unwanted Italian touch to our Gallic ‘burg, but the all-domestic meat itself was expertly cooked and moderately seasoned, matching nicely with the thick sauce. An adorably casual joint loved by locals of all ages, Monburan reminded us of nearby Mukojima’s Katayama, albeit without the fine steaks and venerable track record. Both shitamachi steakhouses can always be counted on for a hearty comfort meal, while also serving as affordable spots to start a long night of bar-hopping at Hoppy-dori or one of the other pub colonies in the area.
1F Asakusa Family Bldg, 1-8-6 Asakusa, Taito-ku
|Opening hours:||11am-10pm / closed Wed (Thu if Wed is a holiday)|
|Transport:||Asakusa Station (Ginza, Tobu Skytree, Asakusa lines)|