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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.

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon!

“Without question, the best book I have read all year.” —Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mysteries

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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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