Dec 2, 2018
WAKAYAMA, Japan - A local hamburger in Wakayama, western Japan, is catching the eye of tourists for its surprisingly good taste and visual impact -- mouthwatering wagyu spare ribs sandwiched with a "mikan" citrus between the buns.
The locally-sourced "Kumanogyu mikan burger" was created at a hotel in the western Japan city, where staff proposed the idea of using half-sliced mandarin oranges as a topping -- much like a tomato would be used -- in a menu for the fall-winter season.
Kumanogyu is a well-known brand of wagyu beef cattle originating in the southern Kumano region of the prefecture, according to the prefecture's tourism association.
Wakayama Prefecture, facing the Pacific Ocean, is the country's leading producer of mikan oranges, a typical citrus grown in temperate regions in Japan. It was the No. 1 harvested fruit nationwide for the 14th consecutive year in 2017, with 144,200 tons, according to data from the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.
The Kyukamura Kishu Kada hotel in the city has created seasonal local burgers before -- the red seabream burger for spring and daggertooth pike conger (an popular eel in Japanese cuisine) burger for summer. The mikan burger is its third creation and will also be sold for a limited time only.
Hotel staff wanted to let people know about local specialties in the prefecture, which is known for its abundance of nature.
Located on the Kii Peninsula, the largest peninsula in the country blessed with mild climates and fertile soils, Wakayama Prefecture has delicacies from the sea and mountains.
In addition to mikan and a variety of other citrus fruits, it is a major producer of plums, persimmons and peaches, according to the prefecture.
"This is a unique burger originated in Wakayama and I hope people feel refreshed" after eating the burger, said Makoto Nishida, the 55-year-old head chef of the hotel.
Nishida takes a whole mikan, slices it in half for the hamburger and adds marinated beef spare ribs with a special house sauce using mandarin juice.
Most of the customers take photos of the burger first due to its extraordinary appearance, and give positive reviews on its taste as well.
Some of them were quoted as saying, "Mikan's sweet and sour taste brought out 'umami' in the beef," or "It tasted better than I imagined," according to the hotel.
The Kumanogyu mikan burger is being served at cafe "Kaze no Uta" ("Song of the Wind") at the hotel through February 2019 at a price of 500 yen ($4.40) or 800 yen for a set including a drink.
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