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How to cook Japanese hamburger steak that makes you hungry

If you are bored with the traditional hamburger, try Hambāgu, the Japanese hamburger steak.

So is it hamburger or steak? It is both.

Hambāgu is the Japanese transliteration of the word Hamburger. It presumably evolves from Salisbury steak, which originates from the US with western seasoning. The patty is seasoned with the Japanese flavor and coated with a thick sauce to serve with rice, not sandwiched in between the buns.

It doesn’t matter if you are confused as long as it tastes good. It is a fusion food of western and Japanese cooking methods, and I love the intense and concentrated flavor of the sauce the way it is presented.

Hambāgu is the Japanese transliteration of the word Hamburger. It presumably evolves from Salisbury steak, which originates from the US with western seasoning. The patty is seasoned with the Japanese flavor and coated with a thick sauce to serve with rice, not sandwiched in between the buns.

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Not all the Japanese restaurants here serves Japanese hamburger steak or Hambāgu, so I decide to make it myself.  I can assure you that the taste is so much superior to fast food burger or pepper steak, which is a revelation if you never have a taste of it.  You will addict to its unique flavor from the first bite and become your go-to recipe for the hamburger.

The distinct flavor of Hambāgu comes from the set of Asian seasoning used. hamburger steak is prepared with wine, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. In addition, chefs made Hambāgu with a mix of beef and pork or added with tofu and chicken meat.

The presentation is different from the traditional hamburger too. It is not served with the bun, but with rice or salad. The patties are cooked in reduced wine and Worcestershire after grilling. The chef will give a final touch by drizzling the remaining gravy in the pan onto the patties, forming a luscious tangy-sweet coating.

It is easy to prepare the Japanese hamburger steak at home

By now you should have an idea of how Hambagu is significantly different from the fast food burger. But I’d love to have this hamburger steak because I love Asian food a well as the burger. So with a slightly greedy thought, I would hope to have the best of both by eating Hambagu.

Hambāgu is surprisingly easy to prepare. The best part is you can make it in bulk, and keep the remaining in the freezer. You can also use any meat you like although the traditional Hambāgu comprises of pork and beef. In any circumstances, you do not need to worry about the ‘pink slime’ issue that concerns some people. By the way, pink slime refers to the process to remove the fat from meat and involve using ammonium hydroxide (which is toxic) to kill the bacteria, before using it as part of the meat in the patties. It does raise some concern for some people.

Let see how to make these delectable patties which are the holy amalgamations of Japanese flavors and the classic American staple.

loco moco
Our Loco Moco – Japanese hamburger steak with egg and rice.

Our hamburger steak (Hambāgu) story

We stumbled upon the Hawaii Loco Moco a year ago.

We are looking for a variation of the classic hamburger, and decide to experiment with the Japanese Hambāgu. We serve it with a bun, but customers are requesting for a change with rice, couple with an egg instead.

Little known that we were the crazy cooks who experimenting the Loco Moco recipe, the epitomize Hawaiian plate-lunch food!

So this is the East meets West mash-up dish insanely popular in our restaurant. Sandwiched the patty in between a fried egg and a bed of steamed rice inundated with brown sauce, the one quick lunch which is drool-worthy and wholesome.

The origin of Loco Moco

Loco Moco was purportedly created in Hawaii at the Lincoln Grill restaurant in 1949. These proprietors were seeking something unique upon the request from a bunch of teenagers who want to have a different type of burger from the conventional one.
So that put some rice a bowl, topped with the hamburger meat, complete with a fried egg and add a ladle of loco moco gravy.

The teenagers name the dish Loco Moco after the name of one of their friends whose nickname was ‘crazy,’ and rhymes with Moco.

Japanese hamburger steak recipe

8 Important tips to cook the successful Hamburger Steak

As usual, I always summarize a list of important note in each post to cover all aspects that you need to pay attention to cook.  I hope this will help you to replicate my recipe successfully.

  • Saute onions have a caramelized flavor. However, some people prefer just to mix the chopped raw onion to the meat, which is acceptable too.
  • If you use beef alone, you may not need to worried about the doneness of the patties. However, it is better to cover the pan and cook a little longer if you use pork or chicken to make sure they are fully prepared.
  • Place the patties in the refrigerator for half an hour to let it harden a before frying if they are too soft to handle.
  • You can make a larger batch of patties and deep-freezed the remaining for future use. Separate the patties with the plastic sheet before deep freezing can prevent them from sticking together.
  • Make an indent in the middle of the patties right after you place them on the pan. The indent help preserves the shape of the patties and disappears when the patties are heated up and expand.
  • Use medium heat to pan-fried the patties. High heat will burn the patties quickly since it contains bread crumbs. Be patient and pan-fried them slowly.
  • You can add more water to the pan if the sauce reduces too fast and you need more time to cook the patties. Add a tablespoon of water at a time so to prevent the patties turn soggy.
  • You may also stuff some mozzarella cheese inside the patties to make a cheesy hamburger.

The Japanese hamburger recipe

Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

Yield: 8 steaks
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Hambagu is a Japanese fusion food looks likes a hamburger with a delectable oriental flavor


Ingredient A - the patty

Ingredient B- the sauce


  1. Saute the onions and garlic with vegetable oil until caramelized
  2. Combined the onion, garlic with the rest of the ingredients in A, until it is well mixed.
  3. Divide the mixture into eight portions. Shape each piece into an oval shape, about 2.5cm thick.
  4. Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Place the patties on the pan.
  5. Pan-fried each side of the patties until they become medium to dark brown and form a crust.
  6. Mix the ingredient in B together and pour into the pan.
  7. Cook with the lid on for about two minutes ensure the patties are cooked Flip the patties over once to let both sides absorb the sauce.
  8. Remove the lid to check the thickness of the sauce. Remove from heat when the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Arrange the patties on a plate.
  9. Pour the remaining thick sauce in the pan on the patties and serve.


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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 8 steaks
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 243Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 326mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 17g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/12/2019


Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Where are the bread crumbs?

KP Kwan

Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Hi Kerry, Thank you for pointing out the mistake. The 45g of five-spice powder (haha does not make sense) is actually 45g of breadcrumb. I have corrected it immediately. Thank you, and sorry to make you confused. KP Kwan

Luminita Dudas

Wednesday 28th of March 2018

what kind of stock please?

KP Kwan

Wednesday 28th of March 2018

Hi Luminita, I use chicken stock for the Hambagu because it has a universal flavor. Otherwise, any types of stock should be fine.

KP Kwan

Pan-fried shrimps with Soy Sauce- How to make in 4 simple steps

Sunday 4th of March 2018

[…] sauce along with a tablespoon of tomato ketchup. This magic pair of sauces is also used in the Japanese Hambagu which I posted […]


Wednesday 30th of August 2017

I did make it again tonight and I had no wine and used blackberry brandy instead and still amazing! Thanks so much :). Have a great night :)

KP Kwan

Wednesday 30th of August 2017

Great to know your brandy Japanese hamburger is successful. Enjoy!


Wednesday 30th of August 2017

I will!! I tried a different recipe once for this and it was no where close to being as good!!

KP Kwan

Wednesday 30th of August 2017

Thank you. Glad to know you like the Japanese hamburger steak.

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