Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Shake Shack opens their first Kansai branch, in the Umeda area of Osaka.
Hey, this isn't sushi! Why would I be so bothered about a burger shop that isn't even Japanese?
Oh boy, you should've seen the queue.
If there's one thing Japan goes for - that I've fully embraced - it's lining up for new and rare stuff. The Umeda shop's been open for over 2 weeks at this point. I turned up nearly half an hour before opening. There were a good 20 people in front of me.
25 minutes to wait - at least. I passed the time by jogging on the spot. It's not like me to go eat a burger at 10am. Needed to build up my appetite, and do the review some justice.
The plan was: standard Shake Shack burger, fries, Fifty-Fifty drink, concrete (frozen custard).
Except the queue could've scuppered the whole thing. With that line, which stayed long for hours, there was no chance of going back for dessert. Luckily they can hold it back until you finish your mains. That's some considerate planning, Shake Shack.
I got my burger. I got extra Shack sauce for dipping. I got a table. I got my camera out.
Shake Shack burgers are made with Angus beef patties and potato-based buns. This is the original ShackBurger, with tomato, lettuce, and cheese. I wanted to try the SmokeShack (with bacon), but it's spicy - that's a shame. Standard cheeseburger it is.
I thought the bun was a brioche roll when I bit into it, very soft and fluffy. Only found out it's potato when I was writing this post. It makes the burger as a whole so easy to eat, I nearly inhaled it. The beef's cooked well, and the cheese isn't overwhelming.
The fries are crinkle cut, and probably oversalted for many people's tastes. Had to drink in between each chip. They went perfectly with the Shack sauce, which is basically spiced mayo.
The Fifty-Fifty drink's half lemonade and half iced tea. I feel like I enjoyed it more than I would've done either of those drinks on their own. Not a fan of milkshakes - even though it's in the damn name of the place.
The Umeda Shake Shack also sells beer and wine. The beer's a special blend, created exclusively for the chain by Brooklyn Lager. You can buy the wine by the bottle, at 5,000 yen a pop. Sure, it's always 5pm somewhere, but I skipped the booze.
And then, there's the concrete. My choice was the 'Tsutenshack' flavour, exclusive to the Osaka branch. As well as the 3 on the menu, there's a special flavour that changes every so often.
Vanilla frozen custard, maple sauce, peanut butter, rice crispy clusters. It was amazing. Frozen custard tastes sweeter/creamier than your typical ice cream. I'd return just for this, assuming they keep it on the menu.
I was inside Shake Shack for just over an hour. That whole time, the length of the line didn't dip once. So my advice is to go before you feel hungry. Had I showed up later, this review would've been clouded by a rumbly stomach.
Verdict: 9/10. Shake Shack's what Osaka needed. I'll go back, queue or no queue.