Sunday, November 26, 2006

japanese: i recommend MOS BURGER

nearly everywhere
at 100 stores across Taiwan


date visited: 11/26/2006 Mos Burger menu for Japan (Japanese only)

Mos Burger Corp (English)

Yakiniku beef burger

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.

the counter- click to see the menu in a larger photo

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.

while i wait, the view from the inside

our burgers to-go

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).

chili hot dog

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.

Yakiniku beef burger

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.

Kinpira burger

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.

side of fried chicken

the last shrimp from the side order

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.

the wrap helps keep your hands sauce-free

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.


Chubbypanda said...

Huh. I've been curious about this chain ever since it was mentioned on one of my favorite J-Dramas, Furusata Ninsaburo. Good post. My curiosity is satisfied.

- Chubbypanda

ZZ said...

Though I am Japanese, I like ordinary MOS burger or cheese MOS rather than rice burgers. Among various chain burger shops in Japan, MOS is at top quality I think. So MOS is nice place for Japanese who tired to have Chanese meals.

Anonymous said...

I'll take two MOS burgers please....... wait, this isn't a drive thru? ;)

Those look really yummy!

garrette said...

yo Joanh, wats ur favourite food in taipei? would u think that ppl there are creative in comin out with different kinda food and brands?

joanh said...

chubbypanda: hahaha. that's funny.. you watch j-dramas! j/k

ztaro: i havcen't had their ordinary burgers, though i just heard from friends from LA that their burgers in taipei are not so good.

peabody: haha.. i wish i could have certain foods delivered to me here!

garette: sure, there's lots of creative foods.. my personal favorites, probably small eats like at the night market.. but stuff that is creative is not cheap. you can look at my "strongly recommend" labels.. do you live in taipei?

Andre said...

i went to mos a couple years ago and i hated it... maybe i'll give it another shot

ZZ said...

Ordinary (not rice) burgers are in favor of Japanese, though I think it may be not so bad for other people. If you like American style, you can try a berger shop BONGO near National Taiwan University. Do you know there?

Jean said...

i liked it, didn't LOVE it.. maybe i expected too much. i didn't like the ice cream at all. but for the most part it was good.

Anonymous said...

Not directed at any of you, but personally, MOS burger sucks. And you are correct, that is NOT a chili dog. That is probably a 台畜 brand bratwurst with some fake chili sauce and jalapenos.

THESE are what you would call, REAL chili dogs.

joanh said...

andres/whatever/marc: yeah, i really think it's hit or miss depending on the chain. and you have to eat the rice/beef one rather than the hamburger. it's a teriyaki bowl in your hand and you can't expect more than that.

ztaro: i want to check out bongos but i couldn't find it!

jean: yeah. it was ok