I have never been to Hawaii. In fact you could possibly say that I have something of a natural antipathy to the place. For a start, I find pineapple on pizza abhorrent, I don’t surf, and I consider the luau scene in Grease 2 a pathetic nonsensity that ruins an otherwise half-decent movie.
And so, when I was given the assignment to review Layer’s Aloha Dining, you can probably imagine my trepidation. The short trail to the restaurant from Chikusa station felt a long one with dragged feet and a heavy heart. Finding the restaurant situated under the railway tracks felt somehow portentous.
Fortunately my mood was immediately lifted as the door slid open and I was shown to my seat. While the walls were adorned with staples of Hawaiian stereotype – the longboard, the cans of SPAM – rather than being kitsch and tacky, the décor as a whole actually came across as pretty tasteful.
Feeling somewhat disarmed by this fact, as well as the glowing smile of the Hawaiian-shirted waitress, I decided I could do with a beer, and flipped through the menu before flipping out to find that they had Heartland on draft (one of the more superior, mass produced Japanese lagers) for a mere ¥500. I quickly ordered two in case they realised their mistake and upped the price.
So food then. That’s what I was there for, and while there were all manner of things to choose from, including some quite mouth-watering looking pancakes, if you are at Layer’s, then you must be there for the burgers.
I dallied momentarily over my regular go-to burgers of choice – the spicy burger, the avocado burger – before my stomach found itself immovably drawn to the house special: the Layer Burger.
When it arrived, accompanied by a nicely malty bottle of Hawaiian Longboard Lager, it was more feat of architectural implausibility than burger. Stacked precariously within a toasted bun, as well as a juicy beef patty it consisted of lettuce, tomato, grilled pineapple, bacon, cheese, and topped off with a fried egg. It is no exaggeration to call it monumental.
The structure, alas, did not stand up to much scrutiny once I got my teeth into it, and it did not last long. It was soon polished off and I sat back in greasy satisfaction, mopping up the remains of the glorious chilli sauce (my personal preference, though others such as teriyaki and barbecue are available) with an onion ring. It was worth every penny of its ¥1300 goodness.
My walk back to the subway was another heavy one, though this was weighed down not by trepidation but satiation. Layer’s Aloha Dining had come highly recommended and despite my initial prejudices, it had certainly come up trumps.
Oh, and my dislike for the Aloha State? Well, let’s just say I spent the rest of that evening at home in a grass skirt, juggling my flaming poi and altering my appraisal of Michael and Stephanie’s Rock-a-Hula-Luau finale.
Layer’s can be found next to Chikusa Aeon, five minutes from Tsurumai Station or fifteen minutes from Chikusa JR. Lunch is served between 11:00 and 14:30 pm, and dinner continues until 22:00. There is also a delivery service between 11:00 until 21:00.
Layers Aloha Dining
Lunch: 11:00-14:30 (L.O.)
Cafe & Diner: 14:30~22:00
Under JR tracks
Naka-ku Shinsakae 2-47-50
Tel: (052) 238-1550