Monday, September 10, 2007

CLOSED! revisited/italian: i recommend MOGA

MOGA
No. 50, An Ho Road, Sec 2
(02) 2704-9646

$$-$$$

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.

pizza


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.

salad


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!

15 comments:

Joyce said...

The Creme Brulee is definately the best one you can get in Taipei. YUMMY!!!

Jean said...

oh man... i should not be looking at this blog @ 2am!!! good thing there's no 24 creme brulee places around here.. but there is mexican! trouble!

Anonymous said...

Another good thing about Moga. I took my mom there for her birthday last year. The owner remembered when I dined there the week before. She had flowers and made a cake for her when i took her there for a surprise lunch. My mom, dad and I were able to relax, have a nice sunday lunch.

joanh said...

May 7th add on:

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.

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!

Anonymous said...

I would like to echo what Joanh noted above regarding the 'upsell' at Moga. Despite dishes still being delectable, a sumptious interior and top-notch service the experience was spoiled when I white-knuckled a shockingly expensive bill. They charged me by the bottle for my glass of wine! I was able to negotiate a more reasonable price in the many thousands, but still off the scale of what I had heard prices were online.

Do yourself a favor by directly asking for the range of prices on the 3 or 5 course meal as soon as you walk in the door or make a reservation. I've heard this problem from others unconnected to me as well.

Shame really, outside of the bill silliness because I would be happy to recommend it.

joanh said...

anonymous: thanks for your comment! i thought it was just us! I think I will cut and paste my comment into the actual post.

Pat said...

i dont like that kind of upsell behaviour. at least they should mention it will cost extra.
and charge for garlic bread when you wait overtime for you ordered appetizer is just plain wrong.
that kind of behaviour is clearly a knockout criteria for me. some ppl are just too greedy. good food alone is just not enough. going to restaurant is also about experience (when its the middle to high class restaurants at least).

the creme brulee just looked wrong and i really wonder why you can get here only 2 little piece of veggies with the steaks (that applies for all restaurants here). i mean the veggies are probably the cheapest part of the dish, why hold back on it?? when i saw the pic of the rib eye with just 2 tiny little pieces broccoli i just could not believe it

Chubbypanda said...

Ewww... I hate money-grubbing places like that. Sounds just like the bottled water trick here in the States. I wonder how she expects to do any repeat business.

Sharon said...

You know.. it kind of weird. I went with my mom last time, and we both had salad, raw beef, dessert, drink and we both shared a pizza, and they charged us for 6000NT? I mean it was ridiculous, so when I saw the prices on this post, I simply believed that we were deceived. Therefore i really don't know whether it is a good idea to go there again. I mean, don't get me wrong the food is delicious, but the price is unreasonably high.

joanh said...

pat: yes, i know.. actually i haven't been back since that last time. i don't know if i should downgrade moga again..

chubbypanda: unfortunately, charging for water/bottled water is the norm here.. also sometimes for bread. for chips and salsa at mexican places too. :(

sharon: WOW! NT$6000?? did you complain? did you say anything? could you line up prices w/ the menu? that definitely seems like a mistake or crazily overbilled on purpose

ben said...

I wrote as anonymous before. To be honest, the host was so charming I still feel happy that the bill only came to 4500 because it was 7000 less than the original 12000 she wanted me to pay!

It sort of turned into a surreal experience but in the end she didn't make a big deal about changing the bill. We got the feeling they are taking advantage of men who don't want to lose face arguing a bill in front of their woman, which basically what I was doing.

Minuses-After appearing visibly stuffed by the dessert, they plopped a plate of expensive prosciutto on our plate, as if to pad the bill.

The pasta was not warm enough, decidedly so-so.

Pluses- The glass of red wine was one of the best I've ever tried. Of course, she said they serve it at the White House, so I guess it better be.

And whatever their motives, their service is down to an art.

I personally don't mind the extra water charges etc at a nice restaurant, but this was over the top. However I still think that if the prices are discussed before the meal dinner at Moga could be an enjoyable experience-- a good indicator pointed out by Pat.

joanh said...

ben: thanks for the additional info.. i guess when you are wanting to enjoy yourself at a nice restaurant, you don't want to have to ask after everything (how much is this?) and they take advantage of this. But to charge up and up on EVERYTHING is just not good business. I agree, the host/manager has her ways, but a good restaurant rewards their customers, not take advantage of them.

艾迪 said...

I love your blog

Sharon Tsao said...

okay she did not even have a menu for us. She told us we could just tell her what we wanted and she would just make whatever you know. And yeah, i agree that the environment was good, the service was great but nevertheless she over charged us, and we did not think about arguing with her because we thought it was tactless. However, we simply thought that we should not go again because of the price.

joanh said...

艾迪 : thanks! hope you will leave more comments for places you've eaten at!

sharon: i know.. we always have to be afraid if there is no menu! that's weird she didn't give you the basic menu!

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