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MOS captures Pinoy taste buds with its East meets West fusion

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By SOL VANZI

Restaurateurs and chefs agree that Filipinos can be such picky eaters. Take the Pinoy attitude toward Japanese food, which took half a century to shift phenomenally from indifference to warm embrace.

There were but a handful of authentic Japanese restaurants in the 1960s and 1970s, when even educated Filipinos considered eating sushi and sashimi a bold adventure that few dared. Most of us safely ordered ebi tempura because it’s familiar, almost identical to our camaron rebosado.

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Yakiniku Rice Burger

Then along came the Hyatt Hotel’s Tempura Misono restaurant managed by the sociable personality Albert Seeland. The resto’s Japanese chefs used misono tables to dramatically introduce new Japanese dishes, which Filipinos immediately fell in love with, particularly beef steak seasoned with teriyaki sauce.

Soon, Japanese restaurants sprouted all over the metropolis and Filipinos were ordering Japanese dishes like Tokyo locals. Today, the Philippine food industry is a very exciting but challenging field, fueled by a robust economy and a growing consumer market of young professionals with discriminating taste buds.

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Seafood Tempura Rice Burger

These same young professionals were much in evidence when Japan’s second largest burger chain, MOS Burger, opened its first Philippine outlet and introduced its version of a signature cheeseburger with meat sauce and the original yakiniku rice burger.

The unique yakiniku rice burger has a thick mound of freshly cooked beef steak pieces seasoned with teriyaki sauce sandwiched between rice patties.

The unique yakiniku rice burger has a thick mound of freshly cooked beef steak pieces seasoned with teriyaki sauce sandwiched between rice patties. The tender chunks of meat are rich in deep beef flavor enhanced by the sweet and herby sauce. One bite brought me back to a five-star hotel’s steak sizzling on the misono table decades ago. I could not believe I was at a mall.

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The rice patties were perfectly steamed, then toasted on the outside while staying tender inside, perfect for those who prefer to eat rice instead of bread.

Some of the other items on the menu for the first Philippine branch at Robinson Galleria are MOS cheeseburger, Wagyu burger, seafood tempura rice burger, and natsumi, a no-carb lettuce-wrapped burger.

I highly recommend the seafood tempura rice burger during the season of Lent. Filled with freshly cooked squid, shrimp, and fish tempura, the rice-enclosed sandwich benefits from the addition of MOS Burger special red sauce, tangy and refreshing. A very convenient meal on the run.

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Teriyaki Chicken Burger

Also worth a trip to the mall are the French fries. Thick, long, and handcut, the fries are cooked to order in very light vegetable oil and served sans salt, leaving it to the diner to season or not.

Founded in Tokyo in 1972, MOS Burger has around 1,300 stores in Japan and almost 400 stores overseas. The company partnered with Universal Alliance Coffee Concepts Inc. (UCC Café) to set up 50 stores across the Philippines.

MOS stands for mountain, ocean, and sun—three elements that symbolize the company’s commitment to good service and how it trains its employees to approach their work. The mountain symbolizes its thrust to stand tall and firm as a mountain. The ocean, meanwhile, symbolizes its aim to have a heart as big and generous as the ocean, and the sun stands for undying passion.

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The brand also adheres to the old Japanese proverb “ishoku dogen,” which means food and medicine come from the same source so we could maintain our health through a balanced diet.

MOS Burger Philippines was formed in 2019 to oversee the local operations. The company is the result of a joint venture agreement between MOS Food Services Inc. of Japan and Tokyo Coffee Holdings of the Young family of General Milling Corporation.

The aggressive expansion plan in the Philippines will see the opening of several branches in Metro Manila this year. Apart from the one at Robinsons Galleria, stores will be opened at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, One Eastwood Tower 2 and Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City, O-Square in Greenhills, San Juan, and Robinsons Manila.

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