On onion-laden Awaji Island, the burgers are the bee’s knees, and folks are travelling from all over to get a taste of the action.
When a food item gains cult status, which happens pretty often in Japan, one feels compelled to do one’s duty – jump on the bandwagon and suss it out for oneself.
On Awaji Island, the tried-and-tested dish is the revered Awajishima Burger. Awaji Island is famous around Japan among other things for its onions, and you can see them hanging up to dry all across the island. Hence the emphasis on the onion in the Awajishima burger. Unable to resist, I took my tastebuds across the Akashi Kaikyo bridge from Kobe one Sunday lunch time to investigate.
If ocean views and a tasty local culinary creation sound like a stellar lunch hour to you, make a beeline for the Awajishima Onion-Kitchen (Uzushio Roadside Station).
You’ll be sinking your teeth into layers of crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, shredded beef, and onion in various forms –pickled onion, onion chips, and an irresistibly crispy, deep-fried onion cutlet which provides the burger’s signature crunch. Top that off with carefully simmered, homemade tomato and onion sauce, all between a plump bun, and you’ve got yourself an award-winning burger.
This mouthwatering delight, the staff proudly inform, won first prize at the national Tottori Burger Festa competition in 2013. A huge part of the appeal is the local ingredients, with emphasis on beef and onions – both grown on the island and exuding a distinct sweetness. Even the tomatoes in the sauce are home grown. It is an Awaji Island production through and through. Also popular, is the “Onion Gratin Burger,” which came in second place in the same competition. This burger is made with Awaji chicken and the gratin sauce uses milk from Awaji cows.
For interest’s sake, look out for the “Roadside Station Burger.” Limited to just one per day, this burger is essentially a 250g slab of Awaji beef sirloin steak inside a bun. It is pricey, but the flavors get it over the line every time! If it’s still there on the day you arrive, and you have some money to spare – well, you only live once!
England Hill is a nature-oriented theme park located in the center of the island, equipped with gardens, a koala corner (featuring six very lazy koalas), a monkey hut, an African bird house, and a rabbit warren.
The England Hill incarnation of the Awaji burger boasts a generous layer of pesto-style sauce on top of its thick, grilled onion cutlet, giving the burger a delicious tangy finish.
If you enjoy the scent of fresh herbs with your burger, then Parchez is the spot for your Awaji burger experience.
Parchez boasts a beautiful nursery with a huge array of flowers and herbs and that influence has spilled over to the adjoining café. Apart from the juicy Awaji beef burger, also on the menu is another eye-catching dessert – lavender-flavored ice cream.
MATSUHO HOT SPRING
Picture this: An outdoor natural hot spring with an amazing view overlooking the Akashi Strait and the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, set against a big, blue, cloud-specked sky.
That is what you’ll experience if Matsuho-no-yu is where you decide to come for your Awaji burger. On a beautiful sunny day, there’s no better place to be, especially if you order a local, Awajishima craft beer to accompany your caramelised-onion beef burger.
For up to date information about Awajishima’s burgers, contact Parchez on 07-9985-1162 (Japanese only)
Awajishima Onion Kitchen
Address： Main store: 947-22 Fukura, Awaji city, Hyogo prefecture
Open Hours： 9:00 – 16:000
Address： 1401 Yagiyogikami, Minami-Awaji City, Hyogo Prefecture 656-0443
Open Hours：9am‒5pm daily
Address： 3025-1 Osaki, Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture 656-1501
Open Hours：Different opening hours depending on the area of Parchez. Please check the website or contact Parchez for details
Matsuho Hot Spring
Address： 3570-77 Iwaya, Awaji-shi, Hyōgo-ken 656-2401
Holidays：Closed on the first Thursday of each month (apart from in Jan, Apr, May, Aug)
Words by Celia Polkinghorne
Photos by Jason Haidar
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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