Have you dined at Burger & Cafe JOY in Sahali Mall? If not, you should. Immediately.
Soft pillowy bread with a subtle sweetness paired with a made-from-scratch house teriyaki sauce makes these Japanese burgers unique in comparison to typical North American ones.
Although their bestsellers are the Teriyaki Egg with Beef Burger and the Teriyaki Cheeseburger, I gave their Chicken Teriyaki Burger a try. Let me tell you, every single bite was delicious. Fresh lettuce and cabbage, moist chicken, and a steamy bun made for a mouthwatering experience.
I’ve never been to Japan, but dining at Burger & Cafe JOY really makes me want to go overseas to test out their culinary scene. As a “combo meal,” I chose a side of Takoyaki and a Japanese soda known as Ramune. Takoyaki is pretty much a cheese bomb with an Octopus nucleus that also happens to have a crave-inducing fried and crispy outer layer. Served up in Japanese style (a.k.a. cute and thoughtful), this side dish is topped with Ponito fish flakes and chives.
I’m not sure what’s more shocking — the fact Burger & Cafe JOY offers a side of Takoyaki for $3.68, or that the food was awesome and yet I felt like I was Tom Hanks on a deserted island yelling “WILSONNNN!” in the movie Cast Away. How was I the only diner there? How was this place empty at 5 p.m.?
I decided that I’d better return a second time to sleuth it out.
On my next visit, I ordered the Teri Tofu Burger with a side of fries. I never would have thought that I’d enjoy tofu in a burger, but this meal turned out to be a lip-smacking treat. Burger & Cafe JOY’s flavourful teriyaki sauce is surprisingly compatible with a slice of tomato, fresh lettuce, green onions and tofu in their signature soft and slightly-sweet bun. The fries are skinny and taste identical to those served at Earls, except that you can also personalize your dipping experience by choosing a special mayo sauce from flavours such as Wasabi, Chili or Soya Sauce.
Mayo sauces have a thicker, creamier consistency than regular ketchup. My favourite sauce was the Wasabi mayo because it had a light kick to it. The chili mayo was a close second with its noticeable spice. Is there anything more fun than eating Burger & Cafe JOY’s generously portioned fries dipped in mayo sauce? Yes, yes there is. Kids will especially love the Ramune (Japanese soda) drink because there’s a decorative marble encased within the glassware itself, and it actually moves around as you drink from the bottle.
This time around, I realized that they were still “sold out” of a few of the same menu items I had asked about the first time, which was kind of an annoying indicator that their in-store menus need to be updated to better reflect what they’re currently offering. On a bright note, I didn’t have to feel like Tom Hanks on a deserted island because there was a young couple occupying the corner couch and enjoying the free Wi-Fi. But that would make, uh, about 20 seats for diners still available. Since Ebus has a relatively busy ticket office located pretty much across the hall from Burger & Cafe JOY, I would have expected this place to have more diners on both of my visits.
Although their hours are limited Monday to Saturday (first call is at 11 a.m. and last call at 5:15 p.m.), with such tasty meals made by a cook who immigrated from Japan in 1999, Burger & Cafe JOY is a prime lunch spot for going on memorable dates or fun family outings. On my next visit, I think I’ll have to try something from their Matcha menu. Perhaps you’ll like the quirkiness of their matcha green coloured walls. Until next time, Kamloops!
Emiko Ohama is a Kamloops resident, writer, photographer and speaker. When she's not searching for her next local establishment to review, she’s either working as a kinesiologist, volunteering in the community, or travelling. You can now follow her journey on Instagram.