Japan, a new taste treat - the whaleburger
April 26, 2002
Japan - First came the hamburger. Now, from Japan, the
whaleburger. This newest contribution to world sandwich cuisine is
the brainstorm of "Kujiraya," or "Place of
Whales," a small shop in the port city of Shimonoseki, 825 km
(490 miles) southwest of Tokyo, and just a short taxi ride from
this year's meeting of the International Whaling Commission that
is discussing the controversial industry.
whale meat in a barbeque-like sauce between two slabs of pressed
rice instead of bread, the Whale Rice Burger retails for 300 yen
($2.30) compared with 85 yen for a McDonald's hamburger.
lunch yesterday, a line stretched back from the take-away window
where owner Yoshiaki Nakagawa was doing brisk business in
whaleburgers, a fried whale cutlet sandwich and a whale hot dog.
really wanted to come up with something with whale in it that
people could eat casually and cheaply, as a take-away item,"
Nakagawa said. "We are the only place that provides this,"
he added proudly.
was an important protein source for an impoverished Japan in the
dark days just after World War Two, but has become an expensive,
gourmet food that rarely appears on family dinner tables and can
usually only be eaten in a handful of speciality restaurants.
older Japanese remember eating whale fried or stewed in school
lunches, the meat is an unusual food for younger Japanese who may
be more at home in McDonald's than a traditional Japanese
who also runs a sit-down whale restaurant and a store selling
items such as raw whale meat, salted whale skin, whale bacon and
thinly sliced whale tongue, said this lack of interest in whale
was one of the inspirations for his invention.
have a long history of eating whale in Japan, and I wanted
something that would appeal to young people." This week, his
first day of business, he sold 30 whaleburgers, 100 whale cutlet
sandwiches and 20 whale hotdogs. Customers gave the whaleburger
was really delicious," said Takeshi Matsumoto, a 30-year-old
office worker who recalled eating whale in primary school. "It
tastes just like any other hamburger."
wife Nami said the meat was tough. Mayumi Hamasaki, who had the
whale cutlet sandwich, said she had expected a more unusual taste
sensation and was unlikely to buy it again.
wanted more of a typical whale flavour and aroma." "If
I'm eating a hamburger, I want it to really taste like hamburger,"
she said. "And if I'm eating whale, I want
it to really taste like whale."
by Elaine Lies