BakeSpite: Burger King 黒パール (Black Pearl) burger

I haven’t posted to the BakeSpite category in… um, years? I also haven’t posted to this blog in what feels like years. So here, have a twofer while I try and kick the rust off my ability to write things that won’t make me a living. Quite the opposite, in fact.

My trip to Tokyo Game Show coincided with Burger King’s launch of their weird new Japan-exclusive burgers, the Black Pearl and Black Diamond. Basically they’re teriyaki Whoppers with cheese; the Pearl comes topped with nothing but cheese and teriyaki sauce, while the Diamond adds tomato, mayo, lettuce, and onions. Totally normal, right? What makes these things stand out is the “black” part: They are pitch black. While the meat is about the color you’d expect from a grilled burger, the bun and (inexplicably) the cheese are both black as the flinty heart of the Burger King himself.

Now, I rarely eat hamburgers — one a month, if that often. And I never, ever eat fast food burgers. But of all the Japan-exclusive fast food gimmicks I’ve witnessed in my decade of covering TGS, this is the first to go beyond the standard grossness of basic fast food and into a truly new frontier of revulsion. I scrupulously avoid American chain food while I travel abroad, but for this… I had to make an exception.


It seems so innocuous on the outside! “TASTE IS KING” reads the service mark, an unusually coherent bit of English sloganeering in the world of Japanese corporate adoption of mangled foreign phrases. Sure, the black wrapper is a little weird — usually food is presented in a more colorful fashion. But this is a post-Coke-Zero world, so sure, why not.

But inside. Inside? Dear god, inside.


I think it’s the cheese that makes it so off-putting. The black bun is a little odd, but I’ve had Japanese melon pan, which is dyed a cheerful shade of green. I can cope with dyed bread. Black’s a little darker than usual for this sort of thing, and it has a slightly cool color cast that brings to mind the Alfred Hitchcock blue food practical joke. Despite the lighting in this photo, the actual tone of the bun lacks the warm undertones of the meat, creating a subtle but slightly unappetizing contrast.

Still, that cheese. American cheese slices are pretty awful on the best days, but when you dye a slice of it black yet allow it to retain its viscous, reflective properties… well.


I’m pretty sure this is the root of the alien conspiracy from X-Files. The melty cheese and thin, oily sauce make this appear to be some kind of strange, petroleum-based food product. One day Jed was shootin’ at some food, and up from the ground came a bubbling Kuro burger.

Weirdly, the unnatural coloration of this meal is entirely natural, in the sense of its origins: The bun is colored with bamboo charcoal, and the cheese gets its coloration from squid ink. So even though it appears to be some kind of oil tanker accident condensed into burger form, in fact there should be no harmful effect in eating this over and above the expectedly deleterious impact of simply eating Burger King.


Mmmm, look at that spongy grey texture.

Somewhat disappointingly, these additives don’t change the flavor of the burger any. I was hoping for a nice charred note to the bun or something, but no. Totally normal. Although the meat itself tastes more like a White Castle burger than the Burger King I’ve had in America… then again, it’s been years since I’ve eaten at Burger King, and Japanese fast food burgers tend to taste considerably worse than in the U.S. So… basically it’s as bad as you’d expect from a fast food burger, but nowhere near as offensive as you might assume for a burger that looks like a horrible accident that happened at the side-by-side Wendy’s/Jiffy Lube back home.

Final verdict: Currently this is inside my body, and that makes me sad.

3 thoughts on “BakeSpite: Burger King 黒パール (Black Pearl) burger

  1. I had the opposite reaction: Burger King makes me sick, but I and my coworkers would seek it out when I lived there. Also, I felt that McDonald’s burgers were way better in Japan than in the US. Maybe it was just the effect of not having had one in a year, or still being in my early 20s and gastrointestinally invulnerable, or general homesickness, or being poor and burgers only costing 80 yen, or my body telling me, “Hey, you’re generally eating better over here, so this hamburger-analogue is not going to make you logy like it would have when paired with college dorm food.” Whatever caused it, I found myself craving Mac at least every other week. And then I didn’t eat it again (nor did I miss it) between returning stateside and having kids. Now I mostly just get coffee so my son can play in an indoor playground, but sometimes I’ll eat a burger with that weird rose-colored nostalgia.

    Mos Burger was gross, though.

  2. In the category of “weird Japanese food” (not including rare or especially gimmicky stuff), nothing weirds me out like seeing yakisoba hot dogs at every conbini in the country.

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