Yuichiro Matthew Kazama hung his third drum chandelier, this one made out of a tom drum, in his third restaurant in Minneapolis ahead of its March 1 opening date.

“Ramen Kazama is my first restaurant, so it’s base, it has a bass drum chandelier. [The Como location] is my second, so I put a snare drum like ‘pah pah,’” Kazama said as he tapped out beats imitating a drum. “And this one is a tom, like ‘doo DAH.’”

Kazama, the former drummer of punk rock band Birthday Suits, will open TokiDoki Burger at 34th and Nicollet on March 1. The restaurant will have a completely different menu and aesthetic from his ramen restaurants, but similar price-point and Japanese flavors in a novel format. As its name suggests, TokiDoki Burger will serve burgers.

Owner Yuichiro Matthew Kazama has a drum chandelier in each of his restaurants as an homage to his career as a punk rock drummer. The tom drum chandelier is at TokiDoki Burger. Photo by Anna Koenning

“I love burgers,” Kazama said. “It’s soul food of America. Ramen is soul food of Japan. So it kind of made sense to me.”

Kazama combined his love of cooking, Japanese influence and American burgers to produce a menu with unique burgers. He wants to serve burgers that customers can’t find elsewhere in Minneapolis.

“Ramen got me into cooking. I see how deep it is and then I love to try to figure it out, like what to do, how to be better,” Kazama said. “Even though I cook so much, I go home and I look at social media, Instagram, TikTok, I’m still looking at cooking stuff and I realize I like it so much.”

For TokiDoki Burger, he took inspiration from Japanese McDonald’s, which mixes the concept of an American burger with Japanese flavors to produce menu items like a teriyaki burger. The menu at TokiDoki Burger will feature tonkatsu, or pork cutlet, burgers served with rice, and fluffy, flavorful patties.

“At first I was kind of overwhelmed because burgers are the culture of the United States almost and I respect so much. I love burgers around here so much, like Matt’s,” Kazama said. “I’m just trying to put my knowledge into the burger, and it seemed to work.”

The name TokiDoki translates to “sometimes” in Japanese. An employee at the neighboring restaurant Ichigo Tokyo Crepes suggested the name for Kazama’s new restaurant, and he liked it.

The aesthetic in the new restaurant will be clean and white with a big wooden counter and wood tables and pops of green plants. Compared to Ramen Kazama, which Kazama said he designed to feel like his living room, since he spends more time there than at home, the restaurant will feel more clean cut. Kazama did not want to use the word “fancy” to describe the restaurant because he didn’t want to imply that the prices would be unaffordable.

“I’m not a fancy type of person. I like affordable,” Kazama said. “I want to make things really good within the range of not too expensive.”

Yuichiro Matthew Kazama owns three restaurants in Minneapolis. Photo by Anna Koenning

TokiDoki Burger is also a bit bigger than neighboring Ramen Kazama with seating for about 70 compared to 50 at the ramen spot. The restaurants are connected through the back rooms, inaccessible to customers, and from the sidewalk there is a small restaurant, Wings & Seafood To Go, between them.

Kazama, who lives five minutes from the restaurant with his wife and young kids, said he hopes that the building that goes in the former Burger King lot across the street will bring customers. His dream is for the ground floor to have a grocery store like Trader Joe’s. He wants to attract families, people in the neighborhood and others who are interested in Japanese food to TokiDoki Burger. He said that he’s seen an uptick in interest in Japanese food on TikTok.

“There’s a lot of information on Japanese food, so people know a lot of Japanese food,” he said. “So I’d like to introduce Japanese food to them in Minneapolis.”

And for vegetarians and vegans, Kazama made a veggie burger with tofu, edamame, and oatmeal to form the familiar burger shape.

“I didn’t want to do an Impossible Burger because it destroyed my stomach. I don’t want to make anything that I don’t want to eat,” he said. “My wife is vegetarian as well. I wanted to make the burger that she would love to eat.”

Kazama wanted to open TokiDoki Burger a year ago, but labor and construction issues set him back. He struggled to build a strong team and construction materials were costly and time-consuming to acquire. He planned on opening in August, 2023 before construction issues delayed the start date.

The restaurant will open on March 1 with burgers, beer and appetizers. Kazama said he has an entire freezer dedicated to storing mugs for cold beer and six or seven beers on tap.

“For me a good burger with a good cold beer, that makes me so happy,” Kazama said.

TokiDoki Burger will open at 3406 Nicollet Ave. on March 1. It will be open from 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 10-9 p.m. on Friday-Sunday.