Monday, March 28, 2011

My Mos Burger addiction

I love keeping up with Japan. It's been almost a year since I left but I still love that country and its wonderful people. One way I keep a foot in Japan is by following the Sakura hostel blogs. I recommend you stay at a Sakura hotel or hostel when you're in Tokyo-- they're very reasonable, have excellent locations and the staff are friendly and fun. I regularly stayed in the Ikebukuro and Hatagaya Sakura Hotels (never tried the hostels because I'm just not a hostel kind of person). In fact, my last 5 nights in Japan were at Sakura Hotel in Hatagaya, which happens to have a Mos Burger right around the corner.

Here's a short blog entry about Mos Burger from one of the Asakusa hostel staff. It's got some fun info on the chain. Did you know Mos Burger introduced the first teriyaki burger? I didn't, but I do know teriyaki burgers are a staple of Mos-competitor McDonald's.

One thing I always enjoyed about Mos Burger is they don't prepare your meal until after you order it. Which means you have to wait a little longer than you would at McDonald's or Burger King, but you always get hot, fresh food served to you in a little wicker basket. Mos Burger's fries are incredibly delicious when hot. Sometimes I crave them.

My first Mos experience was way back in 2003, on my very first visit to Japan. I was in alone in Tokyo, out in Mitaka to visit the Ghibli Museum-- and because I'm math-challenged, I'd shown up too early to go in. See, your Ghibli Museum ticket comes with a specific entry time. It helps cut down on crowds and makes your experience inside the museum more pleasant. But if you're an idiot like me, you might misread the 24-hour clock and show up at, say, 1300 when you're supposed to be there at 1500.

Hungry because I'd skipped lunch in my determination to make my museum appointment (stupidity compounds itself), I set off down the street to find a lunch spot and kill some time. I'm not sure how far I walked, maybe 5 minutes or so, but I found a Mos Burger. I'd seen a few of those around Hamamatsu and Tokyo and decided to try. This was also my first time ordering food by myself in Japan. The restaurant employees got over their initial shock at seeing my white face stumble through the door and the girl at the register gave me a big smile and steeled herself for what she more than likely expected to be a confusing encounter with a jerk-ass foreigner.

Actually, with the Ghibli Museum right down the road, the Mos staff were probably used to dealing with us. The cashier showed me how to point at the menu and I quickly chose who-knows-what. A hamburger with what looked like chili on top and a side of fries and a soft drink. She gave me a plastic tentlike thing with a number on it and gestured towards the dining tables. I'm sure I was grinning like a fool.

The food came hot and I enjoyed my inaugural Mos experience. Later I learned how to say my order in Japanese and also to love their teriyaki chicken sandwich. The Mos Burger at Zaza City in Hamamatsu became a regular lunch spot for me on days I worked, and the one near Sakura Hotel Hatagaya became a place for me to grab a quick meal before going to a Melt-Banana show in Shin-Okubo or Shibuya.

The main source of confusion about Mos Burger is what the Mos stands for. Someone once claimed it was short for "Most Delicious Burger," but if you look at the food wrappers, you'll see it really stands for "Mountain Ocean Sun." But it is pronounced like the word "most" with the t chopped off, not moss.

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