Let’s hear it for Nakameguro. Tokyo’s hippest neighborhood has some of the best artisan pizza, craft beer and third-wave coffee outlets in the city. Now with the arrival of Delifucious, we can add premium fish burgers to that list.
You can tell by the name, it’s a far cry from the average fast-food filet-o-fish counter — but that’s to be expected with an experienced sushi chef at the helm. Shinya Kudo’s resume includes more than 10 years at high-end sushi shops, including the Michelin-starred Ginza Harutaka. Needless to say, quality is key at Delifucious.
Kudo heads to Tsukiji every morning to source his fish, so you know it couldn’t be fresher. He also packs it between layers of kelp — a process, known as konbu-jime, that is used by chefs in many Japanese restaurants to draw out the moisture and imbue the fish with extra umami from the seaweed.
Breaded and deep-fried a crisp golden brown, the fillets are served with a layer of coleslaw inside pillowy-light buns just strong enough to hold the burger together in the time it takes to eat them — provided you don’t spend too much time posting to Instagram.
The final piece of the jigsaw is a thick, tofu-based sauce slathered onto the fish to add the right degree of moistness.
This is an impressive burger but it’s not the only trick in Kudo’s book. As a lighter alternative, you can have your fish grilled rather than deep fried, cooked in the traditional saikyo-yaki style (grilled with miso) on the small charcoal barbecue that he keeps on the go in one corner of the compact kitchen.
The standard serving comes with tomato and lettuce, but as an optional extra you can get a generous mound of pakuchi (coriander leaf).
And then there’s the kani-kurīmu korokke burger, a croquette of crab and creamy potato served in a bun with tomato, coleslaw and a honey-mustard sauce. For a deeper, richer flavor, you can order it with kani-miso, the dark, flavorful crab tomalley. This, like the konbu-jime technique, is something you are highly unlikely to find at any other burger shop in the country.
Kudo has come up with a couple of distinctively Japanese hot dogs, too. In place of a wiener sausage, you get either anago (conger eel) batter-fried in tempura style, or dashimaki tamago (sushi omelet). Julienned cucumber adds a nice crunch, offset by the sharp tang of the dark, sweet-salty nitsume sauce (the traditional seasoning for anago sushi).
You’ll spot lots of great little touches at Delifucious, from the bonsai trees and the cones of salt by the door (for purification) to the retro ramune lemonade in the drinks fridge. The only thing missing is good beer: Corona is just not up to the standard of the food.
Two final notes: Whether you’re eating in or waiting for take-out, ordering is done at the sliding window on the street. And about that name: For better or for worse, it’s a mash-up of “delicious!” with the English language’s favorite expletive. Very Nakameguro.
Open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; closed Wed.; burgers from ¥850, hot dogs from ¥750; Japanese menu; some English spoken. Robbie Swinnerton blogs at www.tokyofoodfile.com.