Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Veggie Burger at Mogu Japanese Street Eats

Mogu Japanese Street Eats on Urbanspoon My first experience of Mogu Japanese Street Eats was at the Food Card Festival this past weekend. My Yelper friend brought me along as her "+1" and we were very surprised to find out there were free samples for Yelpers during the first preview hour before the general public was let in (with a $2 admission fee).
Other than the really cute Japanese lead at the food cart, what really impressed me was the patient care that went into the food and operations. It's the sort of vibe you get at a good sushi restaurant, where the chefs are calmly concentrating on producing a beautiful product. There's nothing wrong with just sliding a sandwich into a square paper bag, but it's an extra step to fold a snug sleeve around your burger so you don't have to pull it out of a bag and there's no mess while you eat it. I really appreciate that extra forethought and effort, especially when it comes to food-on-the-go when you might not have the luxury of sit-down space. All this adds up to a confidence that I'm going to get a properly prepared order every time, instead of a possibly rushed mistake that'll just have to be sent back.

We sampled the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Karaage (marinated deep fried chicken, house made sweet chili sauce) during the Food Cart Festival. It came piping hot. Maybe even hotter than is normally allowed because it was burn-your-mouth-hot, and that after the piece of chicken was cut in half for a sample size, and sitting for maybe a minute in a little paper cup while they put on the chili sauce and a token sprinkle of thinly shredded onion. Yes, after all that, it was still too hot. I popped the whole thing only to realize it too late, and quickly signalled my Yelper friend to stop before she got started on her piece.
You may have had the experience where too-hot food focusses you too much on handling the lava-rock-in-your-mouth crisis and you miss out on the taste. That's what happened to me, so sadly I can't comment on how good it was. If you order anything from Mogu, watch out for it to be too hot to immediately eat.

After the freebie hour, we went back to try the veggie burger: Kabocha Korokke (sweet Japanese squash croquette, katsu sauce, avocado, lettucepicture 1picture 2). It's a regulation sized burger. No sides. Nothing too fancy -- this food cart isn't the burger version of Japadog. Mostly what I remember from this burger was the crunch of the croquette patty contrasted with the overall creamy feeling from the croquette filling and the avocado. Taste-wise, it was basically a sweetness and that mostly from the sauce I'm guessing. Pretty much zero contribution from the avocado and lettuce.
For $8 with no sides, this is quite an OK price for a food cart. It would probably be a bit expensive for a sit-down restaurant, but food carts tend to be a bit pricier than restaurant counterparts in my experience. As far as veggie burgers go, it's really decent. Not as good as the bigger and more complex vegan burgers from Loving Hut Express, but also much less messy to eat.

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