at 100 stores across Taiwan
date visited: 11/26/2006
Mos.co.jp Mos Burger menu for Japan (Japanese only)
Mos Burger Corp (English)
You've probably spotted the red and white M logo somewhere on the street or in a food court if you wandered Taipei enough. The concept for their most popular burgers is actually pretty straightforward- it's like a teriyaki beef bowl masquerading as a burger- instead of a bun, you get rice smushed into two compact patties surrounding your filling (choose between beef, chicken, pork, seafood or vegetables.) To fill out the menu, there are fries, hot dogs, fried chicken or shrimp sides, dessert and regular hamburgers.
On this day, we hit a small shop on Min Sheng East Road for a to-go order for our whole family. We got there a bit before 12 noon on a Saturday, so we didn't have to wait long to order.. but we did wait quite awhile for our food because the cashier left some of the burgers off our order after my uncle used a coupon and they started to get busy with the lunch rush.
When we finally got our food, our chili dog (NT$65) was just a hot dog (NT$55). We asked for them to put on some chili (and offered to pay the difference), but they firmly denied our requests by saying it "wasn't possible" nor could they give us chili on the side. After some nagging, they made us a new chili dog which was just a tiny bit of chili spread on the hot dog with some jalepenos on top. (You'd be better off with the hot dog from Costco).
The best bet is to stick to the basics- the Yakiniku beef burger (NT$65). It is thin slices of beef marinated with sweet teriyaki-like sauce, and the grilled beef is tender though I think the ratio of beef to rice could be improved with more beef. I always seem to have rice leftover. The rice patties are supposed to be grilled, although they don't have a crunchy edge and end up soaking up the juice and falling apart into the wrapping.
I also like the Kinpira burger (NT$60), which has sauteed burdock, carrots, bamboo shoots, a piece of nori seaweed and a kick of spice with the Kinpara style sugar and soysauce.
I wouldn't bother with the fried shrimp (NT$55) or chicken (NT$52) - they are a bit stale and overfried, probably fried from frozen goods. The flavor of the fried chicken was not bad, but it was just not worth ordering again. I tried the seafood burger (NT$70) a few years ago and also didn't care for it. They also have fried cutlet burgers and new burgers every so often.
I think the reason why Mos Burger works is because people who love rice can eat it on the go, rather than having to sit down with chopsticks. The packaging and design is even made for eating it on the go- the thin styrofoam wrapping is easily unpackaged and creates a pocket for you eat and try to keep the mess contained.
It feels a tad healthier than eating a burger, although I think the size of the burgers is small. You might need two or three burgers to fill up if you were pretty hungry. (On this lunch, I had a Yakiniku and a Kinpira (leaving some of the rice behind) and was still a little hungry) It's pretty clean and nice inside for a fast food place though I'm sure each location is different. Also, if you love Mos Burger enough to eat it often, you should buy a pack of gift certificates because with NT$1000, you can get a few coupons for free burgers. This location has menu items listed in English, though it's hard to know what "Shogayaki" or "Konnyaku" burgers are if you have never eaten there before (Shogayaki is ginger pork and Konnyaku is firm jelly that is high in fiber) according to a quick google). There are menus with pictures on the wall, but not with English subtitles. So you will probably just point at the ones that look good at the counter if you don't speak Chinese.
Although it's a chain from Japan, it's often one of the "must-try" items on a list of touristy things to eat in Taipei (which I've found include Mr. Donut (another Japanese eatery), Din Tai Fung and night market food). The concept of rice patties and yakiniku beef is popular enough to be co-opted by the local McDonalds, although I have to say I haven't tried the ones at McDs yet. At prices under NT$60-$100 (or ~US$2-3), it's definitely affordable to try at least once to see if you like it, although portion for price, I think you can get better values with your local food court, although it won't be as easy to eat on the run.