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Since coming to Japan, I’ve had to adjust my expectations when it comes to eating out at burger joints. I’m not sure whether it’s their selection of spices or the addition of strange, seasonal toppings that affects the taste so much, but for better or worse the flavor of Japanese hamburgers rarely matches that of the burgers back home in America.

MOS Burger presents the perfect example. This Japan-based fast food chain’s main claim to fame is a delicious sort of sandwich that tastes like the love child of a standard hamburger and a sloppy joe. But that’s only the beginning. MOS Burger truly pushes the boundaries on what constitutes a burger with their corner of the menu for Japanese-style flavors like miso mackerel between “buns” of tightly packed rice.

Really, what sort of logic could possibly prompt a burger shop to pursue such Japanese style? Sure the company is based in Japan, but who goes to a burger joint for the rice and miso soup?!

Recently, the Japanese side of our RocketNews24 staff landed an interview with Tsuneari Ota, a member of MOS Burger’s food and service product development department. According to him, the Japanese-style menu is the company’s attempt to reach out to families that span three generations. “Kids and their parents are used to eating fast food, but their grandparents are often less familiar with these sorts of places. We want to appeal to that older generation by putting effort into our Japanese-style menu items. MOS Burger is a place that embodies every aspect of Japanese flavor, for the good of the whole family.”

▼ Tsuneari Ota with product development for MOS Burger.

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The latest seasonal items to hit the Japanese-style MOS menu are rice burgers with mackerel in miso paste with a variety of boiled vegetables. The items first went on sale October 29, though they were in development long before that. According to Oita, “The goal was to create a simple flavor, which would be delicious and inspire one to smile while eating. We went through many variations on the mackerel before we got it right.” Apparently, keeping the flavor of freshness intact posed a large hurdle. In the end, the complete process of preparing the fish actually takes about four days and includes pickling and pressurizing it! But the results are well worth it and perfectly suited to a Japanese palate.

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In another attempt to expand the chain’s horizons, many branches of MOS Burger actually offer a breakfast menu until 10:30 each day. While it doesn’t sound entirely appetizing to eat a hamburger for breakfast, items like rice and fish are staples of a traditional Japanese breakfast. And so, the Japanese-style menu at MOS has lent itself well to serving the public in the early morning. At present, three varieties of rice burgers can be bought as a breakfast set with a side of miso soup.

▼ Enjoy miso mackerel, mixed vegetables, or some scrambled egg between rice patties! Order it with a side of miso soup and pickled radish for breakfast!

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So what’s in store for the future of the Japanese-style menu? RocketNews24 got the inside scoop on this one, straight from Mr. Ota. Apparently, they plan to continue with their rice burger series and develop new flavors. Attempts will be made with different types of fish, and perhaps natto (fermented soy beans).

Whatever comes next on their menu, while I can’t really expect it to satisfy my need for hamburgers, I’m sure it will do wonders to bridge the gap between modern fast food and more traditional Japanese meals.

Reference: MOS Burger (Japanese)
[ Read in Japanese ]