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New Hamburger Outlet Offers Unique Menu (December 21, 2005)

The deep-fried fish burger (Mamido's Burger)
Hamburgers are a popular fast food, cheap and great for those on the go, with businessmen ranking high among the fans of this meat-based dish. With so many hamburger restaurants dotting the streets, the launch of a new outlet is usually no cause for excitement. But Mamido's Burger, which opened for business in the Shibuya district of Tokyo in October 2005, is an exception. Its distinctive offerings are all sweets made to look like hamburgers and other fast food.

Made in Shibuya
Mamido's Burger was founded by Cereal Mami, a Tokyo-based confectionery firm renowned for its original creations that has shops in Ginza, Jiyugaoka, and other locations in the city.

From the outside, Mamido's Burger looks like a takeout restaurant. The menu, too, is similar to those at hamburger chains, with offerings like burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets. To all intents and purposes, it is a run-of-the-mill hamburger shop. Nevertheless, the restaurant's catchphrases - "The sweet burger - the first in the world, made in Shibuya" and "The world's first sweet fast food!" - hint at something out of the ordinary. The secret is in the taste of the "burgers," which is worlds apart from the appearance.

Sweet French fries (Mamido's Burger)

The Mamido burger, for instance, which sells for ¥390 ($3.25 at ¥120 to the dollar), is a highlight of the menu. The "bun" is actually a sponge cake, the "patty" inside is chocolate cream, and the "pickles" are kiwis. The deep-fried fish burger, meanwhile, priced at ¥440 ($3.70), features a banana shaped like a fish fillet in sponge cake. It is topped with "tartar sauce," which is actually fresh cream. And the gratin burger, also at ¥440, is a sandwich with a cream cheese and fruit filling.

The side dishes are equally ingenious. The French fries look like the real thing but are actually custard cream covered in starch powder and deep-fried. The fries, diners are told, are delectable when topped with ketchup. Without exception, every item on the menu is a sweet of some sort.

Sweet-Toothed Men
Shibuya is one of the hippest neighborhoods in Tokyo, drawing throngs of teenage girls and young adults. It is also where many trends in fashion and other fields begin. Mamido's Burger is located right in front of Shibuya Station, where the concentration of young people is particularly high.

In an interview with the media, Shino Naoyo, the president of the firm, said: "I wanted to make sweets that people could eat with one hand, and I wanted something that would be a hit in Shibuya." The inspiration for her idea came from a traditional Japanese sweet known as dorayaki, which consists of a sweet bean paste filling between two pancakes.

Thanks to the novelty of its offerings, Mamido's Burger has received extensive television and newspaper coverage, and its popularity is on the rise.  Shino is already looking beyond Tokyo to the rest of the country and has plans to open a second shop before the end of this year.

Customers line up outside Mamido's Burger. (Mamido's Burger)

When it comes to sweets, women are widely regarded as by far the most important market. And when it comes to cakes in Shibuya, high school girls generally have a monopoly.

There are plenty of sweet-toothed men, but many feel too embarrassed to eat elaborate cakes and the like in public. For men like this, especially middle-aged businessmen, the great thing about the sweets at Mamido's Burger is that they come disguised as fast food. Such men can now walk around town munching away, safe in the knowledge that nobody will ever suspect that what they have in their hand is not a hamburger but a cake. Perhaps this is why men number so highly among the shop's patrons.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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