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Yes, Even The Cheese Is Black


I finally tried Burger King Japan’s most recent all-black, all-the-time burger offering, and OMG please don’t look now, but I wolfed it down in record time. It looks pretty weird (especially the BLACK CHEESE) but the taste was I-think-I’d-better-have-another-in-the-interest-of-science good.

Everything is flavored with bamboo charcoal and squid ink – two things I's usually avoid like the plague – but GO FIGURE they make this weird-looking food utterly additive.
“Shalyapin Sauce”? Apparently it’s named after a Russian opera singer who had a toothache when he toured Japan, so a Japanese chef devised an extra-tender steak smothered in onion-mirin sauce. This is the, uh, low-rent dark side version of that.

Bun, cheese and sauce are all flavored with bamboo charcoal and squid ink – two things I’d normally avoid like the plague – but like the sinister orange powder in Cheetos and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, somehow they make this weird-looking food utterly addictive. At first I couldn’t figure out what mystery ingredient was giving the meat an extra kick, but it turns out to be laced with lots of black pepper, which I secretly love.

You can go all-black purist or have it with the works.
You can go all-black purist or have it with the works.

If you missed your chance to eat the all-black burger, bite into a novel set in Tokyo instead

“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.” Raven Crime Reads

For nine years, Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura thought his mother’s death was an accident. Then he gets a call, and his life begins to unravel. Because if it wasn’t an accident…what was it? Read more

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

9 thoughts on “Yes, Even The Cheese Is Black Leave a comment

  1. I think you meant addictive when you wrote additive. Just sayin’.

    I don’t know if I’m brave enough for this one. I had squid ink spaghetti once and still have nightmares.

    • Yes, ARG I meant addictive! (><) Some mornings, Typos R Us! Thank you SO MUCH for telling me so I could fix it! And I'm with you on the squid ink spaghetti – if I'd caught a whiff of anything remotely squid-like about this burger, you'd have seen a picture with one bite taken out of it before it hit the bin. +_+

  2. Everybody back home keeps asking me if I’ve tried it (I have to remind them that no, there are no Burger Kings in the middle of the Pacific), but I have to ask myself whether squid ink would fall under “seafood.” It is a byproduct of a sea creature, and when I put it like that it sounds even more gross.

    Good on you, Jonelle! I’ll defer further questions I receive to you. 😀

    • Actually, I was worried it would taste fishy too, but I couldn’t detect even a whiff of seafood when I ate it. (I am not a huge fish fan either.) The charcoal flavor is much more pronounced, and I have to say, it was really delicious. If you have a chance on your next shore leave, I do recommend it (and I don’t say that about everything I encounter, as you well know!)

  3. I’ve been wondering about this burger since my BF tried it and published a photo of it. She wasn’t particularly intrigued by it, anyway… 😉

    • I read an article this week that said a lot of Westerners are put off by black food because they connect it with food that’s spoiled! I guess I liked the black burger better than your friend did – wish you had a chance to try it, so you could give your opinion!

      • I don’t eat any meat! If there was a version with fish in it, maybe I would try it… But then again, I don’t even eat wheat products, so I guess it would be a bit difficult. I guess I’ll just trust you on this 😉

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