The Adventures of Fatrick: MOS Burger
September 10, 2009
Even though McDonald’s seems to have a stranglehold on the Japanese greasy-burger market, that doesn’t mean they’ve snuffed out all the competition. And thank goodness for that! Sometimes you just need to add break away from Big Macs in your fast-food heavy diet.
Enter MOS Burger, Japan’s own original American-style fast-food chain. I’ve been told “MOS” stands for “Most Delicious Burger,” but a Wikipedia search reveals that it actually is just a stand-in for “Mountain Ocean Sun.” What any of these elements have to do with onion rings I don’t know. But it sounds like a Boredomes song title so I’m cool with it.
What makes MOS Burger unique? Well…uh…seeing as it’s a giant fast-food chain, not much. The stores look boring, the fries taste normal, the employees seem to be made up of the same detached teens you find manning the grills at Wendys all across the U.S. I mean, even the logo looks similar to McDonald’s. The first time I ate at MOS Burger (during the first month where my work responsibilities could be summed up as “just show up and hang”) I ordered a regular old cheeseburger. And surprise surprise it tasted like a regular old cheeseburger. Looking over the menu it looks like you can order burgers coated in chili and (gulp) mayo (along with patties featuring a nice, big tomato on top, something not available at the Golden Arches here), but MOS Burger isn’t so much a “Japanese burger place” as much as it’s “this food sells in America, lets see if we can peddle it out here.”
One item, however, does go above and beyond the call of duty to be the one item on the menu purely Japanese – the rice burger.
Instead of using bread, MOS Burger has created a bun out of rice. The scientists over at MOS HQ found a way to bind the grains of rice together into hamburger-holding form. The rice bun at first glance appears to look a bit like caramel, but again Wikipedia comes to my clueless rescue: this thing has barley and millet in it as well. And they don’t just stop with rice – MOS Burger doesn’t use a pedestrian patty in these things, oh no, they have more Japanese-centric selections like shrimp and thistles. Seeing as I’m afraid to pull weeds in my backyard, I opted for the “yakiniku burger,” featuring strips of grilled beef.
The first thing you notice about the rice burger is how well wrapped it is. MOS Burger uses some sort of Styrofoam-feeling wrapping paper that could definitely make the cut at a Hallmark Store. Once you get over that and the slight guilt of tearing the paper open, you see the little rice burger. The rice bun thing definitely looks strange at first…but I could care less because this thing smells and looks delicious. I’m not even fazed by the lettuce on the burger that appears to be ripped from a Popeye cartoon.
Once you bite into the rice burger, two thoughts enter my mind. One – oh wow this yakiniku is delicious. Two – it appears my burger has dissolved entirely in my hands. The taste is definitely…interesting, but in a good way. It feels like someone took the contents of a small bento box and crammed it all together into a surprisingly delicious treat (or, for the American view, it’s basically a snack wrap, and not far off from this beauty). On the downside, once you bite into the rice bun, the once-united rice becomes, well, regular rice and can contain nothing. The albeit-tiny burger falls to pieces after two bites. But since it only takes four nibbles to put it away, it isn’t that big a deal.
The green stuff tastes really weird by itself, in case you were curious.
The MOS Burger rice burger ended up being a surprisingly yummy dinner, even if a fair amount of rice found itself stuck on my fingers at the end. I’m also chocking this up as the most Japanese a burger can get – until I find a Quarter Pounder topped with raw squid. Which, to be honest, will probably happen within the next two weeks.
(I Am Not Qualified To Teach Children #1 – During class today the teacher asked me to spell “Pluto” for the benefit of the students filling out my self-introduction worksheet. Confused as to why they would need to use the word “pluto” about me but still in no position to ask why, I spelled it for them. Flashforward two hours to me reading said worksheet only to realize half the kids in this class wrote “you have a pluto” in response to the question “what kind of pet do I have?” Turns out they wanted me to spell poodle but instead I’ve doomed them to a life where, when they just NEED to tell some American about a rabid poodle on the loose, they’ll write “pluto” and watch in terror as a man is mauled by a tiny dog. That’s on me, man.)
(Japanese Fun Fact #16 – Japan is super socially conservative but they still have universal healthcare so…I don’t know, wash?)