In recent times, Japan has offered up a noteworthy list of burgers, with the newest additions being Burger King’s “Kuro Burger,” followed by a similar version at McDonald’s (unsurprising given that one thing you could never accuse either company of is true originality). Here’s something more substantial to add to the list: the Neoclassic Burger at 58 Diner, a cafe-diner with a real jukebox, not far from the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. And, unlike the aforementioned burgers, 58 Diner’s isn’t a gimmick, but a good burger: a thin homemade meat patty made from lean beef and accompanied by red cabbage, fried onions and a layer of scrambled egg all enclosed in a bun.
Neoclassicism was and is a movement both reactionary and conservative, which is perhaps the point 58 is trying to make. They’re striving to take the burger back to the era of 1950s diners — a time of integrity for the humble meat patty. How does it do this? By eschewing the gourmet burger trend of voluminous patties in favor of a slender serving. The neoclassic is a compact burger — it would have been tempting to indulge in another one. If you are feeling gluttonous, 58 does a 9-inch beef burger or a fried chicken burger, and there’s also an old-school jukebox that belts out classics such as Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” and Wilson Pickett’s “Stagger Lee” — a little Americana in the ancient capital.
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