Wendy’s is on pace to replace Burger King as the No. 2 hamburger chain in the U.S., and it owes much of its success to new, more upscale menu offerings like thicker, rounder burgers, fries with sea salt and salad with asiago cheese. But that’s nothing compared to what the company is doing in Japan. It’s pulling out all the stops with a price point that’s more haute cuisine than drive-through dining. The company is rolling out a menu it’s dubbing the Japan Premium, according to Bloomberg, which reports that the Premium’s Rossini burger is topped with foie gras and truffles rather than the more pedestrian bacon and cheese. (For sticklers, a photo of the burger on Wendy’s Japanese website seems to show the slices of foie gras topped with a truffle butter, rather than whole slices of black truffle.) The price for this indulgence is 1,280 yen, or about $16. The Premium menu including its $16 burger is currently on sale at a newly opened Wendy’s in Omotesando, a Tokyo neighborhood known for its luxury shopping.
Company executives tell Bloomberg the high-end hamburger is part of a push to reenter the Japanese market, which Wendy’s departed in 2009. Wendy’s plans to open 100 new restaurants throughout Japan and 700 over the long term, according to trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News.
If $16 sounds like a lot to drop on some ground meat between two halves of a bun (even if that meat has some fancy ingredients on top of it), consider this: New York City’s db Bistro Moderne serves a hamburger with foie gras and black truffles that runs $32. Wendy’s offering is a half-price bargain by comparison.
But it seems that even New Yorkers with a taste for refined fast food have their limits: A restaurant called the Wall Street Burger Shoppe that charged a whopping $175 for a truffle-and-foie-gras-topped burger, closed earlier this year and filed for bankruptcy.