I rabuuu Hambaaga

I love a great burger. And I especially rabuuuu Hambaaga. Which for those of you unfamiliar with Yoshoku cuisine, i.e. Japanese-Western food, is the Japanese version of a hamburger. It’s spelled both Hambaga and Hambaaga, and even sometimes spelled Hambaagu. Unlike a Western burger, the Japanese version is often served, not with buns, but with a thick demi-glace sauce and rice. Which makes it, in some ways, more similar to a French steak hache.

Like a great steak hache, a great Hambaaga depends on the quality of the meat you are using. S and I have become particularly partial to mixing wagyu rump and Berkshire pork belly (both of which we can easily get from Huber’s Butchery). We find that a 65% beef / 35% pork ratio is just about perfect. You need to use cuts of meat that aren’t too lean, or else your Hambaaga will be too dry. We also prefer to grind the meat ourselves. S likes a course ground. She says that it gives the burger a better texture and feel in the mouth.

Hambaaga, served with rice, is one of the easiest and most satisfying dishes you can serve to friends or simply to enjoy at home while watching TV. It also goes well with beer as well as a nice red wine. In other words, this is the perfect comfort food that can be dressed up for fancy occasions when the need arises.

Disgustingly Good Hambaaga
makes 8 patties

650g minced wagyu rump
350g minced pork belly, preferably Berkshire
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 teaspoons finely grated ginger and its juice
1 egg, beaten
60 ml Japanese soy sauce
40 ml mirin
30 ml Worchestire sauce
40g Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
salt and pepper

Combine all of the above ingredients (save the salt and pepper) in a bowl. Mix by hand until everything is mixed thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You want the meat to have a nice savouriness.

Make eight oval patties from the mixture and set aside on a tray lined with baking paper. Cover with clingwrap and pop the tray into the fridge. You really shouldn’t keep these in the fridge for more than a day or so, so the best thing is to make them the day you want to serve them. That said, you will need to let the patties rest in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours so that the flavours in the meat mixture can develop.

To cook these, slide them into a hot pan in which you have heated both some vegetable oil and sesame oil. You want these burgers to cook completely through. If you’ve used wagyu and berkshire pork, the patties will release a lot of fat during the cooking process.

To serve, put some hot rice (preferably Japanese) on a plate, place the Hambaaga patty on top or next to it and sauce the patty with some Japanese Hambaaga sauce. This you can find at any Japanese supermarket. The sauce is usually a rich, very thick soy-vinegar-meat glace that is sweetened with tomatoes and fruits, sometimes peaches or pineapple.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his two kids!


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  1. riya 8 February 2009


    The whole thing looks absolutely tasteful… the blue plate, glasses..

    You really live with taste!!

    Anyway, I will try the recipe. I love Japanese Burger. Here in Thailand, there is a restaurant name Sonie’s where cooks the best Japanese-Italian food.

  2. Emy 9 February 2009

    I was thinking of making some meatballs and this recipe will certainly come in helpful. πŸ™‚

  3. ThePurpleFoodie 9 February 2009

    Looks great! I’m very bad with consuming everything I purchase – the days just slip by and I end up wasting! And mirin is very expensive here. Wouldn’t mind a bite from this thought. πŸ˜€

  4. Gracie 10 February 2009

    Do you taste the raw meat to figure how much seasoning is needed?
    “Combine all of the above ingredients (save the salt and pepper) in a bowl. Mix by hand until everything is mixed thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper”

  5. Rie 10 February 2009


    Actually, “Hambaagu” is the word we use for what you have described here…It’s what we call “Hambaagu Steak” (Hamburger Steak”…

    Hambaagaa is the Japanese-fied English for “hamburger”..the type we find in McDonalds/In&Out/GBK….

    If you come to Japan, there is a place called “Bikkuri Donkii”, a family restaurant with ONLY Hambaggaa’s on the menu!!

  6. Carson 11 February 2009

    This sounds delicious. I’ve been to Huber’s, but where is a good place for Japanese ingredients? I just tried to buy mirin from the Japanese section of GIANT, but all of the lables were in Japanese!

  7. S 12 February 2009

    Hi Carson

    Most Cold Storage outlets have a small Japanese section. I am partial to Meidiya at Liang Court and Isetan Orchard.

  8. ren 14 February 2009

    The Japanese section in Isetan Orchard has nicely translated and laminated labels in English for all Japanese ingredients sold in the supermarket section.

    Just made 4 patties as per the recipe, hands smelling like mosbaagaa now but loving it!

  9. Christine 15 February 2009

    Want those dishes!! Love blue and white dishes. What is the brand etc???

  10. SoniaK 19 February 2009

    Well this certainly is a deluxe version of the Japanese homemaker’s lowly ハンバーガ ! As a point of interest, I have it on good counsel from one of these housefrau that she kneads the mixture no less than 10-20 minutes before shaping her patties. (sort of equivalent perhaps to your letting it sit a few hours in fridge, which she does not do). To the person above who commented on how her hands smell after making her patties, an old woman from “the old country” (Lebanon) confided in me that the ladies would rub the fat into their hands after prep was done in place of hand lotions. Your use of pork belly and mincing rather than grinding is truly inspired!!

  11. Dev 20 February 2009

    In Hawaii we just call it a Hamburger Steak, and if there’s a fried egg served on it then it’s a Loco Moco. It’s pretty awesome with fried rice and extra gravy. Mmm.

  12. Mark 20 February 2009

    thanks one million!

    i really needed this because the japanese man from lau pa sat seems to have disappeared! i miss my hambaaga rice!

  13. Rei 22 February 2009

    I just cooked this for 9 people. They all loved it.

    Thank you for sharing! It was great… although I have to confess I didnt use wagyu.

    Good stuff.

  14. Jason 26 February 2009

    Great recipe. Try topping it with an over-easy fried egg and a japanese curry sauce works nicely too.

  15. Xj 26 February 2009

    Hi, this looks really delicious! But can this be made with another kind of meat? I can’t eat beef.

  16. DW 1 March 2009

    Love the bowl…what brand is it?

  17. Jenny 2 March 2009

    I bet that tastes as good as it looks!

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