Sometimes, I just feel like a burger. It’s irrepressible, it’s sudden, it just strikes me every now and then and I cannot quench my thirst unless I actually eat a burger. Fortunately, Japan is full of extremely talented burger outlets, so in all the time I’ve spent in Hiroshima, I’ve never really struggled to find a good burger to satisfy my hunger. But you know, it’s still hard to find that one burger, the kind that your parents didn’t want you to have as a kid, that one huge burger that just really fills you to the brim and leaves you satisfied with every aspect of life. Yeah, that one is hard to find. That’s why sometimes I end up slightly unsatisfied and disappointed after going to a restaurant and eating a burger that falls right off the mark of being excellent: I’m really that close to satisfying my hunger but it’s not quite right. Well I just found out about a burger place that really gave me everything I was looking for. It looks a bit American, and It’s a bit of a drive, but it is, truthfully, worth the hassle. Let me introduce you to Gravy Jack.
Gravy Jack is really one small shop on the side of the road, in the middle of… not that much really. It’s a bit outside of the city, so you need to drive for a bit to get there. You would expect such a remote, smallish restaurant to have only a few customers, tops. I personally thought, when I found the website, that I just landed on a hidden gem, that I found the Holy Grail in the midst of nowhere. And yet, the first thing I noticed when I parked my car was that… I was clearly not the first one to have found this place. It is absolutely packed with customers, all the time, so much so that on my first visit (on a Saturday, not even a holiday, I believe it was the last week of May), I actually had to turn back and go home, because the line was simply too much for me to bear. I thus went back the next Friday, and the number of customers was much more manageable. The shop opens at 11:00, which makes it twice as surprising that it is so popular, because it is truthfully quite remote: that such a small restaurant could have that many people drive early in the morning just to eat a burger, is in itself a surprising feat. You’ll see that Gravy Jack has a bit of an American vibe: its « wild burgers », Betty Boop figures and bull statues might make you feel like you stepped into a foreign territory. You are correct. You just stepped into a land of enormous, delicious cuisine.
The menu keeps it simple: it is a burger shop, so the menu is entirely composed of burgers, which you can order as a menu, in which case your burger comes with chips and a drink.
There is a takeout option, if the line is too long for you or if you’d prefer eating your burger some other place for any reason. I would recommend eating it on the spot though, because it is actually very well made and it would be a shame if some of the taste vanished over time because of the burger getting cold. The menu informs you about the origin of the beef, buns and all other ingredients, so you can be reassured that you are only eating good, non-factory-processed food, which is rare enough nowadays to be specified. Otherwise, the menu is what you would expect from a burger shop: mostly beef and chicken burgers, with some very western recipes (such as the Bacon egg burger) or some Japanese variants (like the inevitable teriyaki chicken), as well as a duck roast burger and a kids’ menu.
You can eat inside, or you can, as I did, eat on the terrace outside, I even managed to capture it before the restaurant opened and got swarmed:You even get to see the cooks as they prepare your burger, which is always appreciated.If you want to eat inside, there is plenty of room, and the typical diner vibe that you would expect from a burger outlet that insists so much on its American inspirations. Going through the door thus really made me feel like I stepped into a western restaurant.
You even get to see the cooks as they prepare your burger, which is always appreciated.
The one thing that struck me, is that only S-sized buns were available when I went. I was kind of bummed when I saw that, because I was quite hungry that day. Nonetheless, that was my second try at Gravy Jack, I couldn’t go the first time, and I was finally able to have a seat, so I was not going to back down just now. Good grace, I am actually happy that nothing above S-sized was available. I am quite a big eater, yet I could barely finish my burger. When the burger arrived, I my mouth got watery, it was exactly what I was looking for! I ordered the Great Jack, because it just seemed like a safe option, and I recommend it strongly, but feel free to try all the other burgers: there is no wrong choice.
Actually, I think most people get overwhelmed by their burger once it arrives: I expected it to be big but it was really nothing I was accustomed to. The restaurant really plays on that, and they provide customers with a guide on how to eat their burgers: the first instruction is to be surprised by their size. I obviously followed that guide thoroughly. Once I managed to take the burger into my hands and to turn it into some kind of coherent, edible mass, it was time for the first bite.
First impressions are important, be it when you meet people or when you first taste food, and I think that due to the fact that burgers are an awful mess to eat in the first place, the first bite really gives you a whole other level of satisfaction. It’s not only about the food anymore, it’s about the accomplishment of eating it without soiling yourself.
So here it goes, the first bite. I munched my way through the burger, trying to take in a bit of meat as well, so I don’t end up eating only a piece of bun with lettuce and sauce. And wow, that was satisfying. This is actually one of the best burgers I’ve tasted, and I’ve been to quite a few burger outlets. The first bite really gives you a feeling of instant satisfaction: the meat is really delicious, the bun is perfectly cooked, the cheese is melting and counterbalances the taste of the meat, and then the egg adds a bit of texture. Really, it is an actual moment of bliss. Every bite gets you closer to satiety at an awfully fast pace, so the last bites really feel like a marathon, but leave you absolutely satisfied. The chips are surprisingly tasty as well; they are actual fried pieces of potatoes, and you can easily tell that they were cut and fried in the kitchen. It adds a warming feeling, as if I was eating homemade food. In general, this burger outlet truly made me feel like the burger was tailored for my needs, a bit like home cooking. It’s not just your typical burger with a bit of meat, a bit of cheese and lettuce, it is packed with a lot of ingredients, all of which are cooked with delicacy. I personally finished my meal as satisfied as I would be after going to a very nice restaurant, or after having someone cook for me.
Having finished my burger, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to drive: that’s how full I was, and that doesn’t happen quite often, especially not with just a burger. I was truly aghast but so blissful, and it was not even expensive: a burger is about 1,300 yens, so about $10, and a bit extra if you add chips and a drink.
The drive was a bit long, Gravy jack is located in Eastern Hiroshima (東広島, Higashi-Hiroshima), in the town of Hachihonmatsunishi (八本松西), so the quickest way from center Hiroshima is to take the expressway. It should take you about 30min to get there, but trust me, it is definitely worth the drive!