Machida, on the Southern outskirts of Tokyo along the Odakyu line, is not a likely destination for Tokyo-ites accustomed to a diversity of urban attractions, but if you are in a more suburban or rural part of Kanagawa prefecture, Machida represents an easy and appealing jaunt into town. There are numerous good bars and eateries within a short hike from the station, and in the particularly dense cluster of “Machida Alley,” there’s a variety of laid back, tiny restaurants that open into the covered alleyway. One of the standouts, and in the running for one of my top 5 burgers anywhere, is a reggae themed hamburger shack called Jami Jami.
I’ve been to Jami Jami a number of times, and I have never been disappointed by their delicious, beautiful burger monsters. The chef d’cuisine, Shuntaro (well the only guy I’ve ever seen working there), has spent some time in Texas, so he speaks English and knows how to handle the beef. The burgers are clearly made with quality meat, have just the right fat content, are seasoned perfectly, and cooked a perfect medium rare. Their eponymous burger- the Jami Jami- is assembled like a work of art: the pulsing, steaming patty is topped with supple smoked bacon, ripe avocado, and a thick tomato slice. Once you pick up the beast, however, you better hang on to it because you will need to hold it together, lest its disparate parts run their separate ways.
The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, it’s just a tiny counter bar with 5 or 6 stools, with reggae and hippie themed décor. They have beer on tap, a respectable booze collection, and appetizers ranging from fries to housemade pickles to smoked liver. The music ranges from reggae to gangsta rap, and Shuntaro-san deftly juggles the orders in his tiny, cluttered kitchen. The restaurant opens onto the covered Machida alley, so you get to see people walking by drooling over your burgers.
Jami Jami is open from 11:30 12 midnight everyday except Tuesday . They have lunch specials from 11:30 to 3:00 and happy hour with 100 yen off beers from 11:30 to 5:00. Save me a spot at the counter, I’m hungry!