Monday, September 10, 2007
CLOSED! revisited/italian: i recommend MOGA
No. 50, An Ho Road, Sec 2
review visit: 8-19-2005/ (below editor addition: 9/2007 for a 7/2006 visit)
(Please be sure to read the revisted review along w/ the original post, which is almost two years old. I have not been to Moga since the UPSELL which I am discovering is quite frequent and outrageous. Honestly, I have not been back since 2006 because of the slow service and ridiculous prices we were charged on our last visit. I thought it was our own mistake for not asking, but I am tempted to change the 'recommend' which I had already downgraded from a "strong recommend" to a "do not recommend" but I think I would have to visit it again to decide for sure.)
ORIGINAL POST 11/2005:
Moga is my new favorite local Italian restaurant- the food is delicious and satisfying, the service is personal and attentive, the ambiance is modern and simple, and did I say how much I liked the food? The style is Italian meets Japanese, which seems to influence everything from the food to the service. For many of the Italian spots I have been eating at regularly in Taipei, my return visits have disappointed with each visit- however, with Moga, the food and experience became better. Perhaps it was the noisy downpouring of rain from the incoming typhoon, perhaps it was eating pasta while nearly 9 months pregnant- whatever it was, I'm itching to eat there again.
We ordered salads, appetizers and a pizza to share family style, and our own pastas or main courses to eat individually. While the specials on the board are in Chinese, the menus are in both English and Chinese. The pizzas were listed in Chinese, and the server stated that I could make my own desired combination if I didn't see what I wanted on the board. We ended up with a Hawaiian style pineapple, sausage, tomato and mushroom pizza that had crust with body and crunch, a healthy amount of toppings and cheese, but didn't overweigh the crust. It wasn't too doughy unlike a lot of 'homemade' style pizzas I've ordered at other restaurants.
The salads were refreshing and plated for each individual. Due to some miscommunication, the server gave us two salads plated this way, including some type of salad that included a meat that was a bit unidentifiable. I think it was fish? I would stick with the standard mixed greens salad that comes with slices of an hardboiled egg and cherry tomatoes and a light vinegrette. The appetizers I would order again are the bruschetta and the mozzerella and tomato- I didn't care for the chicken wings.
I ordered a chicken linguine with porcini sauce that seemed to melt in my mouth. The porcini sauce was creamy but not too heavy, the linguine was slippery, but held onto the sauce, and the chicken was tender and not overdone. The portion was just right and the sauce left a pleasant lingering mushroom taste. My friend ordered the rib eye steak, which was nicely grilled and accompanied by a few crispy waffle fries that happened to make their way to my plate.
chicken linguine with porcini sauce
rib eye steak
For dessert, we ordered a selection to share: the creme brulee, the tiramisu, the chocolate cake and the panna cotta. My favorite was probably the panna cotta which milky and not too sweet, came covered in kiwi. The creme brulee was not as expected having a carmelized crust on top, but rather was a scoop of eggy-flan like custard covered a bit of caramel sauce. The tiramisu was more whip creme than ladyfingers and the chocolate cake didn't leave much of an impression.
creme brulee & tiramisu
chocolate cake & panna cotta
Appetizers are $180-280 NT, pastas are $320-380 NT, meats are around $580 NT, and desserts are $100 NT. With drop down screens that can separate the close tables, it's a place suited for a romantic dinner for two or a group dinner. It's a small and intimate space, so call ahead if you want to be sure to get a seat. It's more stylish than Cosi o Cosi, much better tasting than Diamond Tonys, a better value than Pasta West East, and more original than Macaroni Grill- so that's why Moga is my new favorite.
(Editor addition: 9/2007 for a 7/2006 visit)
Beware of the upsell! After eating at Moga again, I have to warn new customers that while the food is very good, you will get charged for everything. Sometimes, like last night, the service is slow with one server and a full house. I had originally written up Moga as strongly recommend, but now I've lowered it.
The service was slow when we went last night, and we had ordered the gorgonzola cheese bread appetizer. We asked the owner about it and she apologized for the delay and gave us some garlic bread. After we got our appetizer, there was some delicious melted cheese still in the dish, and we requested a piece of plain bread. When we got our bill, we were charged NT$80 for 2 slices of garlic bread and NT$30 for 1 slice of plain bread. Now I am not the happiest about paying US$1 for a piece of bread that most restaurants give a whole basketful of when you sit down for free, but we requested it so fine. But the garlic bread was given to us, not ordered, and I didn't expect to see it on our bill.
Also, as part of our set course, we got a soup. The owner recommended a clam soup to me. It was not bad, clams in a clear broth. However, on the bill, she charged me an extra NT$100.
She also recommended a cheesecake for dessert, a special one from Japan. So we said sure! It was heartshaped and huge! But then we were charged NT$600 for it though dessert was supposed to be part of the set course.
Friends we had run into last night also were surprised to see their bill totals as a result of the set course upsell. So while a plate of pasta is a reasonable NT$380 if you order salad, soup, dessert drinks, it WILL add up. Don't assume that what she is recommending is part of the package, and if you are on a budget and in doubt, ask!