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The burgers — and buns — are worth the wait at Iwakuni’s Broccoli Grill

The Broccoli Grill in Iwakuni offers many great burgers to patrons. Featured here is the “Chili Burger,” which has the traditional American fixings, topped with sauce and freshly cut spicy red peppers.

JAMES BOLINGER/STARS AND STRIPES

By JAMES BOLINGER | Stars and Stripes | Published: July 5, 2018

A small, glowing green neon sign is the only signal that the Broccoli Grill, a gourmet burger restaurant in Iwakuni City, is serving dinner.

From the bottom of a dimly lit stairwell, the smell of seared beef wafts through the air and beckons guests inside.

Holding just five tables and a small bar, the family-owned restaurant serves up burgers featuring handmade beef patties and traditional fixings — topped off with a crusty bun so delicious that it alone makes the short trip from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni worthwhile.

Visiting the Broccoli Grill for lunch is a good option for busy diners, as reservations are recommended during the usual dinner rush.

Harada Shinya and his wife, the proprietors of the Broccoli Grill, mastered their trade in Tokyo — which explains why their burgers have the complex flavor profiles one might expect of a visit to the big city.

Despite being open for more than three years, the restaurant’s decor, marked by unpainted particle board walls and mismatched light fixtures, gives off an unfinished, shabby-chic vibe.

The English menu is short and sweet. Just six mouth-watering burgers and three rice plates grace the two-page menu — along with a decent selection of beer, wine, soda and tea. The Japanese menu features a bit more food, with a rotating lineup of items such as steak, a variety of salads and pasta. So, if you’re not in the mood for burgers, come prepared with your Japanese skills — or a friend who can help translate.

The burgers range from 1,100 yen (about $10) for a basic Fine Burger topped with onions, tomatoes, lettuce and sauce, to an Egg Bacon Burger that tips the scales at 1,300 yen.

I opted for the Chili Burger — which has the same toppings as the Fine Burger, save for slices of tiny red chili peppers. My burger also came with my choice of two sides. I opted for French fries and a side salad, before rounding out the meal with a well-poured Sapporo draft beer (500 yen).

The patties at the Broccoli Grill are homemade and well-seasoned. The vegetables that top these juicy burgers are fresh and crisp, but don’t overpower the flavor of the beef. The burger sauce, while reminiscent of ranch dressing, is a different, but satisfying, touch that complements the meat well. However, none of these ingredients was the star of this meal — because that designation goes to the hamburger’s bun. Served warm and toasted with lots of butter, the buns are made locally at Nishikawa, a nearby bakery. Shinya is very proud of them, he said.

In all, the quality ingredients of Broccoli Grill’s burgers make for a filling, delicious meal. You will need your napkin — but the resulting mess is totally worth it.

bolinger.james@stripes.com

Broccoli Grill

Location: 3 Chrome-5-30 Marifumachi, Iwakuni.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.-12 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays.

Prices: Burgers range in price from 1,000 yen (about $10) to 1,300 yen. A variety of salads and side dishes are available (350 to 800 yen), as well as steak (1,600 yen for 200g) and rice dishes (750 to 1,200 yen). Beer is also sold, with prices ranging from 500 yen for draft beer, and 800 to 1,000 yen for craft brews.

Dress: Casual

Directions: From Iwakuni Station, take west exit, then turn left on Rt. 188. Walk three blocks south and turn right after passing the post office. Walk two more blocks and turn right. The Broccoli Grill will be on the left on the second floor.

Information: 090-8360-2788.

Online: facebook.com/thebroccoligrill

Harada Shinya opened Broccoli Grill three years ago with the help of his wife and brother in law. He learned to cook in Tokyo, and his team makes a burger as good as any you can get in the States.
JAMES BOLINGER/STARS AND STRIPES

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