It would be easy to walk past the dingy exterior of the Rainbow Kitchen without giving it a second look. Doing so, however, would mean missing one of Tokyo’s best hamburgers.
The rusty corrugated metal and rough bleached wood that make up the facade are a carefully designed ruse. This funky little spot looks like it’s been rusticating for decades, but Rainbow Kitchen is only going on six.
Owner/chef, Kotomi Sakaguchi, has a thing for unpretentious Americana, thus the interior decor of sun-faded Pepsi and Coca Cola signs, the Miller Time tavern lights, pine plank flooring, and the vintage ‘70s illuminated menu sign with crooked slip-in plastic letters, the type that has graced countless greasy spoon diners across all fifty states.
But Sakaguchi also has a thing for simple, great-tasting food. Sakaguchi plays her industrial-size flat-top griddle like a Hammond B3 organ, turning out juicy, soul-satisfying fare and giving a hamburger the respect it deserves.
The Bacon Cheeseburger (1100 yen) is my current heartthrob. Each hand-formed pure beef patty weighs in around 115 grams. Briefly seared, it’s covered with a metal bell for concentrated frying. A row of five petite slices of bacon are laid out to sizzle. The halves of a sturdy, specially-baked bun are set to properly toast, front and back, on the griddle. Then Sakaguchi readies the accoutrements: a crisp bed of iceberg lettuce, slice of ripe tomato, dollop of mayo and another of her housemade special sauce, and finally the touch that puts this burger into my hall of fame: a spoonful of slow-roasted caramelized onions.
Under the bell, the almost-ready burger is given its robe of cheddar cheese. After a good melt, the burger is quickly assembled and served with a small mound of curly fries as cute as pigtails, a dill pickle, and those linchpins of diner food—red and yellow squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard.
Slip the sandwich into a wax-paper sheath and dig in with both hands.
For the complete Rainbow Kitchen review, and more of my reviews, follow this link to Metropolis Magazine:
Rainbow Kitchen: 2-28-7 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku. Tel: 03-3822-5767. A 1-minute walk from Chiyoda Line, Sendagi station. Open Tuesday-Friday 5pm to 12 midnight (L.O. 11pm). Saturday 11:30am to 12 midnight (L.O. 11pm). Sunday 11:30am to 9pm (L.O. 8pm). Closed Mondays.