Move over, Ramen Burger (and generic ramen burgers). The rice burger has arrived.
When our favorite takoyaki spot, Otafuku, moved a few doors down on East 9th Street, we had no idea something possibly even more exciting would move into its old broom closet of a space. But when Yonekichi opens on August 18, it’ll unleash one of Asia’s quirkier street snacks, the rice burger, on Little Tokyo.
Sakura Yagi, manager of her father Bon Yagi’s restaraurants (which also include Soba-Ya, Curry-Ya, Hi-Collar and the aforementioned okonomiyaki spot) tells us his new takeout joint will specialize in one thing: burgers made from patties of rice that are first steamed and them grilled to a slight brown crisp.The menu is still a work in progress, but you’ll likely be able to chose from six or seven types of $7-$11 rice burgers, including tsukune (chicken meatball), kakiage (a medley of tempura vegetables), kinpira (lotus root), and sukiyaki (thinly sliced beef and lettuce). There’ll also be one with eel and avocado.
The reason for opening place is obvious: “Rice burgers aren’t uncommon in Japan,” said Sakura, “however no one is really doing it in New York.” (Though, to be fair they’ve lately popped up on some menus.)
So does she expect it to cause the sort of stir the ramen burger caused? “I can’t say for sure that it’ll be as crazy as the ramen burger,” she said. “We don’t want this to be just a craze; I think it’ll be something that people see as an alternative to regular burgers and a little bit healthier. The ramen burger isn’t necessarily that healthy.”
Once it’s open (expect a soft-opening before Aug. 18), Yonekichi will do business Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday till 1 a.m.