What Is Hambagu? A Guide to the Japanese Hamburger Steak

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Hambagu (or “hambāgu”, Japanese: ハンバーグ) is a Japanese dish of meat cooked in a bun. It’s a very popular dish in Japan and considered a national comfort food. The bun is usually made from white bread, but you can also get it in a wheat bun. The meat is usually beef, but sometimes pork or chicken.

The history of hambagu is very interesting. It’s believed to have been introduced to Japan by the American military during the occupation after World War II, and the name is a transliteration of “hamburger.” Nowadays, it’s very popular and sold at almost every fast food restaurant in Japan.

In this guide, I’ll take you through the history, the ingredients, the cooking method, and some of the best places to get it.

What is hambagu

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What’s the Deal With Hambāgu?

What is Hambāgu?

If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you’ve probably seen Hambāgu on the menu. But what is it? Well, it’s basically a steak made from ground meat, and it’s usually served with rice instead of buns. It’s a popular dish in Japan and is often found in Yoshoku restaurants.

The American Version

You may be surprised to learn that there’s an American version of Hambāgu. It’s called Salisbury Steak, and it’s pretty similar to the Japanese version. So if you’re ever feeling a bit homesick, you can always order a Salisbury Steak and pretend you’re back in the States!

Why Should I Try It?

If you’re looking for a delicious and unique meal, Hambāgu is definitely worth a try. Here are a few reasons why you should give it a go:

  • It’s a great way to experience Japanese culture.
  • It’s a tasty and filling meal.
  • It’s a great way to mix up your usual dinner routine.
  • It’s a fun way to impress your friends and family.

The Fascinating History of Hamburg Steak

From Hamburg to Japan

It all started in the port city of Hamburg, Germany, where a certain type of steak was created and named after the city. This steak was then brought to the US, where it was given the name Hamburg-style Steak. From there, it branched off into Salisbury Steak and the world-famous Hamburger.

But how did this steak make its way to Japan? Well, it’s a bit of a mystery, but one clue lies in the name used for early versions of this dish: German Steak. So it’s likely that it was brought in after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when Japan opened its doors to the world.

The Rise of Hamburg Steak

At first, Hamburg Steak was only available at fancy western-style restaurants called Yōshokuyasan. But then, in the early 20th century, food processing technologies allowed it to be enjoyed by ordinary households. And with the rise of cattle farming, this high-end favorite became a staple of Japanese home cooking.

The Hamburg Steak Today

Today, Hamburg Steak is a beloved dish in Japan. It’s served in restaurants, enjoyed at home, and even featured in bento boxes. So the next time you’re in Japan, why not give it a try? You won’t regret it!

Tantalizingly Tasty Japanese Hamburger Steaks

What is a Hambāgu?

Hambāgu is a Japanese dish that’s sure to tantalize your taste buds! It’s a blend of minced beef and a variety of other ingredients, all cooked together to create a delicious patty.

Tastes You’ll Love

Hambāgu comes in a variety of flavors and toppings, so you’re sure to find something you’ll love! Try out the classic Wafu Hambāgu, with its soy sauce-based sauce and grated daikon. Or go for the Teriyaki Hambāgu for a sweet and savory flavor. Or if you’re feeling fancy, try the Demi-glacé Hambāgu. To top it all off, why not add some sautéed shimeji mushrooms and a fried egg?

Making Your Own Hambāgu

Ready to make your own Hambāgu? Here’s a simple recipe that’ll have you cooking up a delicious patty in no time!

  • Start by combining minced beef with your choice of ingredients, like onion, garlic, and herbs.
  • Form the mixture into patties and fry them in a pan until they’re golden brown.
  • Make a delicious sauce to top it off. Try a combination of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar!
  • Serve your Hambāgu with your favorite sides and enjoy!

A Delicious Combination: Ground Beef and Ground Pork

The Perfect Blend

Hambāgu in Japan is a delicious combination of ground beef and ground pork. Supermarkets in Japan make it easy to get the perfect blend of both meats with their convenient Aibiki Niku packages, which usually have a 7:3 ratio of beef to pork.

Making it Easier

Making Hambāgu just got easier! For this recipe, you can decide the beef/pork ratio either 2:1 (8 oz/4 oz) or 3:1 (9 oz/3 oz).

Versatile and Delicious

Aibiki Niku is not only great for Hambāgu, but it can also be used for:

  • Menchi Katsu
  • Spaghetti Meat Sauce
  • Curry Doria (Rice Gratin)

So, why not give this delicious combination a try? You won’t regret it!

How to Make the Perfect Hamburger Steak


  • Onion
  • Ground beef
  • Red wine or beef/chicken stock


  • Sauté the onion slowly and let it cool completely. This will add natural sweetness to the hamburger steak.
  • Knead the ground beef mixture until it’s pale and sticky.
  • Play catch with the meat mixture, tossing it from one hand to the other. This will help release the air pockets.
  • Place the meat patties in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to solidify the fats.
  • Before cooking, make an indentation in the center of each patty with 2-3 fingertips. This will help the patties from exploding or crumbling.
  • Use red wine or beef/chicken stock to steam cook the hamburger steak.
  • Cook the red wine reduction sauce in the same pan. This will add another layer of flavor to the already juicy hamburger steak.
  • Enjoy your perfect hamburger steak!

How to Serve a Delicious Hambagu


  • Hamburger Steak
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Steamed Rice
  • Miso Soup
  • Salad
  • Bottle of Red Wine (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place the Hamburger Steak in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • While the Hamburger Steak is baking, prepare the grilled vegetables.
  • Once the Hamburger Steak is done, serve it with a bed of grilled vegetables.
  • For a Japanese-style meal, add steamed rice, miso soup, and a salad.
  • If you’re feeling extra fancy, crack open a bottle of red wine and make it a celebration!

Everything You Need to Know About Hamburg Steak

What is Hamburg Steak?

Hamburg steak is a type of patty made with ground beef, onions, bread crumbs, and egg. It’s a popular dish in Japan, and there are a few variations like cheese hamburger steak or wafu hamburger steak.

What Kind of Ground Meat Should I Use?

If you want a beefier flavor, go for 100% ground beef. But if you want to mix it up a bit, you can opt for a combination of ground beef and pork. We recommend using at least 60% beef for the best flavor.

What Should I Serve with Hamburg Steak?

Hamburg steak is usually served with:

  • Steamed rice
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots

But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try serving it with mashed potatoes, French fries, or even a side of mac and cheese.


Hambagu Vs Hambaga

Hambagu and hambaga are two distinct types of burgers that have become popular in Japan. While hambagu is a patty made of ground beef and pork, hambaga is a patty made of ground beef and vegetables. Hambagu is usually served in fast food restaurants, while hambaga is more commonly found in specialty burger restaurants, cafes, and pubs.

Hambagu is the classic burger experience, with a juicy patty of ground beef and pork that is sure to satisfy any burger lover’s cravings. On the other hand, hambaga is a healthier option, as it replaces the pork with vegetables, making it a great choice for those looking for a lighter meal. Both burgers are delicious and offer something for everyone, so it’s no wonder they’ve become so popular in Japan!


What Do You Eat With Hambagu?

Hambagu is a delicious Japanese-style hamburger steak that’s sure to impress even the harshest critic. Serve it up with some grilled rice cakes and a salad of green beans and carrots dressed with a sesame paste dressing for a complete meal that’s sure to satisfy even the hungriest tummies. For a halal version, just use beef mince. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try it with burger buns and call it ‘Hambaga’? For a real treat, serve it with a sunny side up egg and you’ll be in foodie heaven!


Hambagu is a delicious dish that’s sure to please everyone! Whether you’re a fan of Japanese food or just looking for something new to try, you won’t be disappointed. Just remember to use those chopsticks, and don’t be afraid to get creative with the toppings! And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try making your own Hambagu at home? You’ll be a master chef in no time! So, what are you waiting for? Get cooking and BITE into that delicious Hambagu!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.