Whilst vegetarians may well be (slightly) more virtuous than the average meat-guzzler, we do have our flaws. One of mine is burgers. To me at least, burgers are closely associated with two things: eating out (both literally and figuratively – summer barbecues, yes!), and junk food. These two associations do not often bode well for us, even though they are undoubtedly good for wallet and waistline alike. Indeed, the search for a good vegetarian burger often results in either paying an absurd amount of money for something loosely termed “gourmet” (and often accompanied by over-sized but under-portioned truffle fries), or being given a mushroom or tofu patty in a bun slathered with sauce. In both instances, the outcome often struggles to be better than adequate.
In Singapore the relationship between fast food and vegetarianism is an embryonic one. Apart from McDonalds’ flirtation with the Indian-spiced McAloo Tikki in 2013, one has to resort to either the rather expensive and inconveniently located VeganBurg, or Mos Burger and their infamous (and quite delicious) potato croquette burger for a vegetarian fast-food-fest. If, however, you follow the path of righteousness all the way to the Land of the Rising Sun, then the options become a little more tantalising. For Japan is the birthplace of Freshness Burger – an enlightened, vegetarian-friendly fast food restaurant that offers a killer bean burger and a good selection of sides (deep fried stuff, soups and salads) as well. They also serve draft beer, meaning a perfect food-drink combo awaits every prospective customer with an appetite for indulgence.
Freshness Burger’s vegetable bean burger (¥496 inc. tax) really is a wonderful marriage of affordability and tastiness. The patty itself is made from three types of beans – chickpeas, kidney beans and marrow beans – which are as filling as they are rich in flavour. Such richness helps to mellow both the tangy tomato salsa that sits on top of the patty, and the cool and crunchy lettuce and onion underneath. The Hokkaido pumpkin bun adds a subtle sweetness (and a delightfully warm orange hue) to the overall flavour-fest. Indeed, being Japanese as much thought goes into how it looks as how it tastes. And if nothing else, this really is a beautiful burger.
There are, however, just two problems. The first is that – like any bean burger – the patty is liable to crumble, meaning you had better be prepared to get your paws dirty. And the second? It’s a seven hour flight to get your hands on one. Worth every second, I say.