If I'm truly honest with myself (which is, y'know, a noble aim but one that I try to avoid for sanity's sake) one of the biggest hooks that Hakodate had in my mind was Lucky Pierrot. A famous Hakodate-only burger chain that people either raved about, or were underwhelmed by, I've wanted to try it ever since I discovered its existence.
Last weekend, John, my dream came true.
Was it good? Yes. But not for the reasons you might expect.
Y'see, the actual burgers themselves were good, but not great. The meat wasn't some culinary masterpiece, the sauce wasn't mind altering, the buns were nice but had too many sesame seeds... it wasn't an incredible burger experience by any means. I would think the menu leans too heavily in the direction of Japanese-style burgers for most western eaters, and the fact that their most popular burger is a chinese chicken one speaks volumes.
So really, the establishments position as a tourist destination (there are Lucky Pierrot's all over Hakodate, but the one by the dock is a big tourist draw) is kinda confusing. You could eat better burgers anywhere in Japan. I still really liked the place though, for almost everything other than the food.
The place is really good value, clocking in at less than 400 yen for most of the burgers and giving you a bigger sandwich than Mos or Freshness or McDonalds or any of those places. The menu is huge and satisfyingly eclectic, with a ton of different burgers, side orders, curries, sometimes even cake! The staff seem to be all little old ladies who are completely unhurried and unflustered in the face of a huge queue of tourists, and everything seems to be organised via little slips of paper that you are given, or that are taped to a wall or someone's arm.
Also I had a milkshake that was so thick it was basically ice cream. Which is like +100 points in my book.
And finally the decor. The touristy one has a vague fairground theme, with swinging seats and photos of carousel horses on the wall, but the one near our hotel was just terrifying.
It's a 365 Christmas Store.
The whole place is festooned with Christmas decorations to a farcical degree, with glass cabinets full of toy Santas and Christmas trees and holly and tinsel and the whole works. My first reaction, naturally, was that they'd just got their decorations up this year super-early. But no! They have newspaper clippings on the wall - it's like that all year round! They play Christmas music all year round! Man, if I lived in Hakodate, I know where I'd be eating lunch all year round.
I'm really sorry that I can't bring you photos of the place - it was pretty dark (with lots of twinkly Christmas lights) so none of my photos came out well. Take my word for it though, Luck Pierrot certainly don't serve the best burgers in Hokkaido, let alone Japan, but their shops are still worth a visit for a good look at how a decent local fast-food chain should be run.