Keith Tsuji/Getty Images
Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

9 Deliciously Unique Burgers Created in Japan

Keith Tsuji/Getty Images
Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

From adding cream cheese to dunking in a deep fryer, Americans have taken the most iconic of Japanese cuisine—sushi—and added their own delicious spins. But because all is fair in love and food, Japan has done the exact same thing with the classic hamburger. Whether it’s reimagining what a bun can look like or creating unexpected ingredient combos, the Japanese make burgers with lettuce, tomato, and pickles seem downright passé.

1. SAKURA BURGER // MCDONALD’S

In 2014, McDonald’s decided to celebrate Japan's cherry blossom season with its pink-hued, limited-run Sakura Burger. The sandwich had a special pink sauce (sakura-flavored mayo with Japanese radishes) and an egg on top of a teriyaki patty, but what really made the burger pop was the light pink bun.

2. KURO PEARL BURGER // BURGER KING

Burger King Japan brought the world the limited-edition Kuro Pearl Burger in 2014. To get that distinctive color, the black buns and sliced cheese were made with bamboo charcoal, and the black onion-and-garlic sauce included squid ink as an ingredient. The black burger briefly came to the United States for Halloween a year later with A-1 steak sauce. (People who ate it reported it turned their poop green.)

3. CHOCOLATE AND HONEY MUSTARD GRILLED CHICKEN BURGER // LOTTERIA

Valentine’s Day means chocolate, and Lotteria, a Japanese restaurant chain known for its outrageous and limited-edition burgers, didn’t want to miss out on the celebration. To honor the most romantic of holidays, it offered up a brand-new chicken burger in 2014. The chicken was marinated in a white wine and onion and garlic mixture, then topped with honey mustard sauce—but the real star was the chocolate sauce, which came in a separate packet for drizzling.

4. FRENCH CRULLER BURGER// MOS BURGER

Karl Baron, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Donut burgers have been around for over a decade now, but the Japanese chains Mos Burger and Mr. Donut turned the entire mash-up on its head when they partnered in 2014 to create the French Cruller Burger, a spiral chorizo sausage with chili sauce, onions, tomato, mayo, and lettuce, sandwiched between a soft French cruller. This wasn't the first time the brands worked together to leave their mark on burger world. Past creations include a Red Bean and Custard Rice Burger and a Grilled Beef Rice Burger.

5. NY PIZZA BURGER // BURGER KING

TAKA@P.P.R.S via flickr// CC BY-SA 2.0

Christmas dinner looks a little different in Japan, with KFC reigning supreme as the holiday meal of choice. Burger King decided to get in on the Christmas market in its own way with the NY Pizza Burger in 2011. A similar dish debuted in New York the year before, but the Japanese version upped the ante. The 8.8-inch-diameter burger, which had four overlapping patties and cost about $21.50, came in two styles: Fresh Avocado (just adding avocado) and Cheese Nacho (it included tortilla chips, cheese sauce, and jalapeños).

6. WET BURGER // MOS BURGER

Take one plain hamburger, submerge it in a ketchup-y sauce, and what do you get? The Wet Burger, which is exactly what it sounds like. Mos Burger’s interpretation of the Turkish islak burger, the Wet Burger comes in a wrapper, so it can be eaten without soaking your hands in sauce (Mos Burger’s much beloved Napolitan tomato sauce seasoned with garlic and onion). Oddly, though, only half the burger had the new toppings—the other half consisted of standard burger toppings.

7. PURPLE MAGIC BACON DOUBLE EXCELLENT CHEESEBURGER // LOTTERIA

Special-edition Halloween treats abound in Japan during the month of October, but Lotteria upped their themed-burger game with this year's offering: two beef patties, two cheese slices, and a thick slice of bacon. The bacon was meant to resemble a tongue, and the “purple magic” in the burger’s name referred to the purple cheese sauce, which got its color from powdered Okinawan sweet potato. The entire burger was served up in a coffin-shaped box.

8. FOIE GRAS ROSSINI BURGER // WENDY’S

Danny Choo via flickr// CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2011, after two years out of the Japanese market, Wendy’s returned with a vengeance and a brand-new $16 burger. The Foie Gras Rossini was a spin on the French dish Tournedos Rossini, both of which include slices of foie gras and truffle sauce. The burger was taken off the menu a year later after PETA campaigned against it.

9. BURGER WITH EVERYTHING ON IT// LOTTERIA

Lotteria took one look at McDonald’s Japan’s Giga Big Mac (a gigantic sandwich with 2.8 times the meat of a regular Big Mac), and decided to really step it up with its Burger With Everything On It. What can you expect if you order one of these limited-time monsters? Four patties (hamburger, cheeseburger, fried shrimp, and rib), bacon, cheese, a soft-boiled egg, lettuce, cabbage, tomato, and onion. Plus, a slurry-sauce of teriyaki, mayo, spicy mayo, tartar sauce, meat sauce, and ketchup. Turns out, there's truth in advertising after all.

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11 of the Most Extreme Junk Foods Ever Created
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iStock

It should come as no surprise that National Junk Food Day is traditionally celebrated on July 21—smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, when the streets run thick with ice cream trucks and county fairs boast the kind of fried treats that can only be described as “awesome” (both in the modern sense and the more dated, whoa, we are in awe of that usage). But National Junk Food Day shouldn’t be celebrated with commonplace junk food; oh, no, it deserves something far bigger and better. So save your potato chips and chocolate bars for another day, and get ready to try some truly wild treats.

1. THE KFC DOUBLE DOWN


KFC

Perhaps the most unexpectedly clever way to create a new extreme junk food item is to turn a non-junky foodstuff into something that just oozes calories and decadence. Fried chicken giant KFC knew that—and played it up to major effect—when they introduced the KFC Double Down to America back in 2010. The sandwich foregoes the most traditional aspect of any sandwich (the bread!) and substitutes two fried chicken filets. In between the two pieces of chicken? Bacon, two different kinds of cheese, and the Colonel’s “secret sauce.” There’s no room for a bun here, folks.

2. PIZZA HUT'S HOT DOG STUFFED CRUST PIZZA

We may associate items like fast food pizza and hot dog-stuffed anything with all-American palates, but cheesy juggernaut Pizza Hut saw things a bit differently. In 2012, the chain introduced a pizza with a hot dog-stuffed crust to our neighbors across the pond, treating their UK customers to the kind of taste sensation some people might have had literal nightmares about. Is it a pizza? Is it a hot dog? Somehow, it’s both—and yet something much more.

3. FRIENDLY'S GRILLED CHEESE BURGERMELT


Friendly's

Once again, a wily restaurant chain took a normal food item—in this case, a hamburger—and amped up its junk factor by doing away with something as commonplace as buns, in favor of an entirely different (and, yes, very junky) item. In 2010, Friendly’s rolled out its very own spin on the Double Down, slamming a regular old burger between not one, but two grilled cheese sandwiches. Who needs buns when you can have four pieces of bread, gooey cheese, and unfathomable amounts of butter?

4. GUY FIERI'S CHEESECAKE CHALLENGE

Whiz-bang chef Guy Fieri has long drawn ire for his more wild culinary creations, but what sets his cuisine apart from that of other junk food aficionados is his steadfast dedication to the key elements of any extreme item: size and odd combinations. Fieri’s “Guy's Cheesecake Challenge” is currently on the menu of his Vegas Kitchen and Bar, but it’s easy enough to replicate at home: Just halve a cheesecake, throw it on a plate, and douse liberally with hot fudge, pretzels, and potato chips. (What, no bacon?)

5. DENNY'S FRIED CHEESE MELT


Denny's

In August 2010, Denny’s introduced the Fried Cheese Melt, a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with fried mozzarella sticks. Yes, it was served with both French fries and a side of marinara sauce, because it’s important to eat vegetables with every meal.

6. DUNKIN' DONUTS'S GLAZED DONUT BREAKFAST SANDWICH


Dunkin' Donuts

If you’ve ever hit up your local Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and found yourself stumped when it came time to decide if you wanted a donut or a breakfast sandwich to get your morning motor revving, Dunkin' Donuts came up with a brilliant culinary brainstorm in 2013: the fast food favorite unveiled a breakfast sandwich that used glazed donuts as “bread,” wrapped around bacon and peppered egg.

7. JACK IN THE BOX MUNCHIE MEAL

What Jack’s Munchie Meals lack in creativity, they more than make up for in pure, unadulterated size and content. Each Munchie Meal—there are four total—features a massive sandwich (from the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger to the Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich, and all sorts of wild fried things in between) accompanied with two beef tacos, “Halfsies” (a combo of fries and curly fries), and a 20-ounce fountain drink. These intense snack boxes are still available at most Jack in the Box locations, but you’ll have to wait until after 9 p.m. to procure your very own.

8. PIZZA HUT CHEESY BITES REMIX PIZZA

Apparently, there’s nothing that Pizza Hut loves more than using its crust as a delivery system for other junk food items. The hut that pizza built may have crammed hot dogs and hamburgers on to their pie sides, but there was something special about the Cheesy Bites Remix pizza. It featured fried cheese pockets stuffed with three different varieties of extra junk, from spicy seasoning to cream cheese and sesame to mozzarella and parmesan.

9. DEEP FRIED BUTTER

County and state fairs have long been hotbeds (sizzling, oily hotbeds) of wild, deep-frying invention. Dunking things in batter and then tossing them into a vat of oil is a nifty way to turn almost anything into a delicious crisp pocket of junky decadence, perfect for utensil-free eating—but that doesn’t mean that everything needs to get the deep-fried treatment. While deep-fried Oreos may be a stroke of brilliance, deep fried butter is just plain madness. Here’s a quick test: If you wouldn’t eat something if it weren’t deep-fried, don’t eat it if it is deep-fried. When was the last time you ate an entire stick of butter? See? Point proven.

10. THE BACON BUN BURGER

Not content to have a bacon sandwich between two chicken filets? Is a grilled cheese bun replacement not for you? Then try making your very own hamburger buns out of bacon. Carbs are bad for you, right?

11. FRIED ICE CREAM SANDWICH

The Florida State Fair is the proud home of the first fried ice cream sandwich, a junky treat that bears a name that doesn’t even begin to explain what it holds between its buns. It’s not a fried ice cream sandwich so much as a bacon cheeseburger (technically a sandwich) topped with a ball of fried ice cream. It might be a good meal for multi-taskers—no need to worry about dessert—but it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing good for anything else.

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Scientists Find a Possible Link Between Beef Jerky and Mania
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iStock

Scientist have discovered a surprising new factor that may contribute to mania: meat sticks. As NBC News reports, processed meats containing nitrates, like jerky and some cold cuts, may provoke symptoms of mental illness.

For a new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, scientists surveyed roughly 1100 people with psychiatric disorders who were admitted into the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore between 2007 and 2017. They had initially set out to find whether there was any connection between certain infectious diseases and mania, a common symptom of bipolar disorder that can include racing thoughts, intense euphoria, and irritability.

While questioning participants about their diet, the researchers discovered that a significant number of them had eaten cured meats before their manic episodes. Patients who had recently consumed products like salami, jerky, and dried meat sticks were more likely to be hospitalized for mania than subjects in the control group.

The link can be narrowed down to nitrates, which are preservatives added to many types of cured meats. In a later part of the study, rats that were fed nitrate-free jerky acted less hyperactive than those who were given meat with nitrates.

Numerous studies have been published on the risks of consuming foods pumped full of nitrates: The ingredient can lead to the formation of carcinogens, and it can react in the gut in a way that promotes inflammation. It's possible that inflammation from nitrates can trigger mania in people who are already susceptible to it, but scientists aren't sure how this process might work. More research still needs to be done on the relationship between gut health and mental health before people with psychiatric disorders are told to avoid beef jerky altogether.

[h/t NBC News]

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