Despite the boom in Tokyo burger joints over the last year or so I tend not to pay enough attention to them, probably due to the fact that they tend not to provide a suitably drawn-out dining/drinking experience, although my attempt to spend a full evening at Giggle proved enjoyable. Still, burger restaurants, no matter how fresh, healthy and handmade the cuisine they offer may be, suggest lunch or a quick bite rather than a leisurely evening meal.
I recall a flier for Blacows landing in the office post box a year or so ago. At the time it sounded interesting but somehow ended up being ignored, despite my passing it daily on my stroll through Daikanyama. But then, I suppose a couple of months ago, I started to notice how busy it was – any day of the week – and the frequent queues outside the place. Queues generally indicate decent food, or recent television endorsement by mindless “talent” well trained in the art of rolling their eyes while declaring something “oishii.” Either way, I decided to follow the herd.
Typically, on the evening my dining partner and I visited, Blacows was pretty much dead. A couple of sparkly forty-somethings with perfect nails and expensive looking skin, and a couple of neatly dressed, polite and ultimately soulless waiters were our only company. The interior was appealing, in that it felt a little more “restaurant” than burger bar/café – bright, clean, modern and kind of minimalistic. There was a counter overlooking the kitchen, but unfortunately we weren’t afforded the opportunity to enjoy that particular view.
The menu sounds appetizing enough. A selection of salads, Hokkaido fries (more like wedges really), a selection of beers and a respectable line-up of burgers. The burgers take centre stage, being lovingly prepared from 100 percent wagyu (Japanese Black Angus cows) so as to provide a delicious, wholesome meaty flavour and texture. You pay a little more for the privilege than you might elsewhere, but overall the pate is rather good. Most of the burgers you would expect to find are available, cheese, egg, bacon, avocado etc., along with more exciting fillings such as jalapeno and Italian mozzarella with prosciutto. The choice is not in the same league as the plethora of highly creative, often messy, towering burgers that Giggle provides, but it outdoes that which was on offer at Frisco Charcoal Grill.
Service is prompt, polite and informative. Prices reasonable, around a ¥1,000 for lunch and a little over for a burger in the evening. By time you add salad, Hokkaido fries and some beers (small and at Daikanyama prices) the final bill can add up.
We went for a salad, which was fairly pedestrian. The Hokkaido fries were actually rather good, a decent pile, and a higher quality of potato than one usually endures, nice and crisp on the outside and served with an assortment of three condiments for dipping. I went for the bacon and egg burger, which was delicious, neat and easy to eat without getting too messy. There’s even brown paper sheets in supply at each table, should you like to wrap your burger in that manner. My dining partner’s avocado burger was good too, although not a patch on Giggle’s take on the genre. The meat in both was excellent, and the bread rolls fresh and glistening, apparently supplied by Maison Keyser bakery. Each plate came with a gherkin, and a sprinkling of fries.
So, a decent enough burger restaurant, that provides quality rather than creativity. I’m still sticking with Giggle as my favourite, mainly for the choice and reckless abandon with which they pile up a great and gooey burger. Still, Blacows is well worth a visit, especially if you prefer not to get your hands messy and happen to be in the Ebisu/Daikanyama area. You’ll probably not prolong your stay though.