Leaving home for university coincided with my father discovering the entertainment possibilities of the Internet. Subsequently we have maintained a rather sweet father-daughter e-mail communication sharing YouTube videos, rugby match reports and location-related news articles. One such e-mail pinged into my inbox in February: a scanned clipping from the Times about Japanese research into the perfect burger-eating hand positioning. Pops was vindicated because the recommendation followed what he had advised for years [little fingers and thumbs underneath the bun, pointer, middle and ring fingers atop]. hamburger-diagram-2The even pressure this grip encourages helps prevent patty slippage and sauce spillage. Conducted over four months by experts in fluid mechanics, engineering and dentistry, the study even included 3D scans to analyse the movements of burger contents during dining.   Japan, like the rest of the world, has gone burger-crazy. No longer a dirty fast-food secret, what was once little more than a glorified sandwich at McDonald’s has become a gourmet experience. Restaurants pride themselves on meat quality, fresh buns, extensive cheese options and a plethora of indulgent extras.It seems like every other restaurant in Japan does burgers, so picking the right one can be tricky. Luckily we’re here to help you out. This month I have teamed up with the HT’s very own kitchen guru, my friend and restaurant-finding partner, Cherie Pham. In the name of research we have devoured many a burger across our great prefecture (plus sampling outside the ken and country for comparison’s sake – that’s commitment for you) to pick the best options for the next time you’re hankering for a hamburger.   BoTrestaurant Bo Tambourine, Sannomiya [Charlotte ate a bacon and cheese burger, Cherie an avocado burger.]   Charlotte says: Everything a good burger should be; Bo Tambourine’s has the meat to filling proportions just right and makes a mean milkshake to go with. Next time I’m going to try the BBQ pork option. The staff at Bo T are lovely and with cute coffee cups it’s good outside of meal times too!   Burger:4/5 Venue: 4/5 Overall experience: 4/5  BoTbaconcheese Cherie says: I’d like to apologise to my first Bo burger, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or stomach (still fighting the intoxications from the night before). I left a sizable portion untouched. To pay respect to the leftover, I revisited and devoured a well-stacked avocado burger. Juicy and crispy in all the right places. Bo Tambourine is the perfect get-away from the bustle of Sannomiya, tucked away in a corner of Motomachi.   Burger: 4/5 Venue: 4/5 Overall experience: 4.5/5   lampCafé Lamp, Himeji [Charlotte and Cherie both ate cheeseburgers]   Charlotte says: For a café which began as a bakery it’s especially disappointing that the buns have let me down every time I’ve eaten here, being overcooked and crumbling apart at each bite. The café itself has a cool atmosphere though and friends swear I’ve just been unlucky with the buns.   Burger: 2/5 Venue: 3/5 Overall experience:3/5   Cherie says: I have to agree with the bun situation,but I gave Lamp a second chance and they delivered. Even with the cosy place full, they managed to send out well-seasoned, plump patties to satisfy all kinds of hungry. I like Lamp, but I don’t love Lamp. (I am prepared to take the consequences of that statement from all devoted Lamp fans in Himeji.)   Burger: 3/5 Venue: 3/5 Overall experience: 3/5   awajirestaurantAwajishima Burger, Nishinomiya [Both Charlotte and Cherie ate cheeseburgers]   Charlotte says:Awajishima Burger is a Hyogo institution and, if blogs and Tripadvisor are to be believed, is often a contender for ‘best burger in Japan’. It’s a pretty big claim, but the team at this shack-on-the-side-of-a-petrol-station are up for the challenge. There’s often a queue and there are only four seats in the shed, but it has real rustic charm and the sauce is fantastic – the recipe a closely guarded secret!   Burger: 4.5/5 Venue:4.5/5 Overall experience: 4.5/5   awajiCherie says: The smell of fried onions leads the way to burger heaven. Yes you’re sat on a plastic seat looking at a plastic sheet but nothing matters after you unwrap the toasty foil to reveal the secret-sauce covered burger inside (this is when you’ll hear angels sing). The crunch of fresh salad and the simultaneous burst of flavour from the hot meat draw textures and tastes together harmonically. Just go.   Burger: 5/5 Venue: 3.5/5 Overall experience: 4.5/5     wantoWanto Burger, Sannomiya [Charlotte ate the house special, the Wanto, Cherie a cheeseburger]   Charlotte says:I had to opt for the house speciality, the Wanto, mainly for its description as being a “super special powerful rich burger”. It didn’t disappoint, but then with a Kobe-beef patty, Wagyu steak slices on top, home cured bacon and spiced egg how could it? Not something I could eat (or afford) regularly, a Wanto burger is definitely a special treat. I liked the American style diner vibe too and the waiters are a good laugh.  wanto the wanto2 Burger: 5/5 Venue: 4/5 Overall experience: 4.5/5     wanto cheese burgerCherie says: The Monterey Jack cheese in the burger fitted in well with the old school Coca Cola® signs and squeaky bar stools,but that’s as authentic as it got. I have eaten fantastic cheeseburgers in the States but this imitation did not suffice. It was an unmemorable meal; the one thing I do remember is that it lacked basic seasoning. Are the retro decor and friendly staff enough to entice me back?   Burger: 2/5 Venue: 3.5/5 Overall experience: 3/5   We may have gone mad with the excessive intake of cows but we hope this has inspired your very own Hyogo Burger Pilgrimage!     Charlotte Griffiths & Cherie Pham   *barmy [British informal] – crazy/mad