UPDATE: Frisco just closed end of July 2010 as the building it was in will be destroyed. It will reopen one day, so stay tuned!
I chose today another wonderful place that I have unfortunately neglected far too long, which I visited the other day for the first time in probably five years.
The first time I ate at "Frisco" (which was right after it opened), literally a burger hole-in-the-wall, the chatty English-speaking owner gave me a brief and honest introduction on why he got to open this joint. I remember being rather surprised as he did not seem too sure whether that even was a good idea or not, being new in the business and new in Japan after spending a great part of his life in the US. He did not know Shimokitazawa very well either (except that potential-burger-eating youths hang around a lot in the area), so you will appreciate why I got a little worried for the guy. The burger was good, that's for sure, but the place is so VERY hard to find that I thought word-of-mouth would not be enough to sustain decent business. Thus, fearing the disappointment and the bad feeling of visiting an ever empty store, I simply never went there again. As usual, too bad for me, and I hope I can catch up as soon as possible with the lost time. Please try it for yourself if you like nicely barbecued burgers. You won't be disappointed.
When we got in the shop, I was first impressed by the several quality press clips on the wall, all praising the state-of-the-art burger. Also, five minutes after we got there, few regulars-looking customers got in, clearly meaning I had been wrong all the way on selfishly predicting the future of this burger business.
The reason this shop got so much word-of-mouth certainly relies on the charcoal grill that gives the meat and the buns such distinctive smoky aroma. Not sure whether that was a way to avoid heating the grill to a temperature too high, but the owner placed the metal grid over the red charcoal after we placed our order. We opted for the filling Cheeseburger set (¥1,200), that comes with a drink and some french fries.
The cheese burger consists of the grill-toasted hard-on-the-outside but soft-on-the-inside buns, a well-done and wonderfully smoky 150g beef patty, the guilty-pleasuresque slice of cheddar cheese with its undefinable umami, some VERY fresh onion, tomato, lettuce and a little pickle. You guessed it right: it's a simple and classic burger like you'll see barbecued everywhere in the US.
The crinkle-cut french fries are heavenly crispy and salted enough to match the salt-and-pepper-only-seasoned patty. I think there was a very thin layer of mustard and mayonnaise on the buns, but nothing else that came in the way. In other words, the cooking is really designed to make you enjoy the flavor of the juicy beef and the smoke aroma.
The vegetables are super fresh and provide a very nice crunchiness and freshness to the whole.
I am sure there are plenty of good places among those new burger joints popping out in Tokyo, but I would assume that "Frisco" has to be ranking among the best ones, especially in the "authentic", "sunday barbecue style" category.
It is expensive at ¥1,200, but if you're ready to pay the price, you will most probably enjoy it, with the additional fun of actually having to find this incredibly tiny joint in the Shimokitazawa maze.
"Frisco" is closed on Tuesdays, and open the rest of the week everyday from 11:30am to 21:00pm
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-34-11
click here for a very needed MAP