Shop T1, 05A, Soul Retail
4 The Esplanade
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 7 5667 8089
This weekend, I was extremely glad to escape Melbourne’s bi-polar 35-degrees-and-humid-one-minute-and-pissing-down-rain-the-next-minute weather for the constant 28 degree days that a lot of Gold Coastitutes probably take for granted. On a day packed with climbing rocks and cliffs at Burleigh Heads, hanging out with fellow Melburnians in Surfers Paradise and getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D while swimming to ‘Helena Beat’ in Marty’s backyard, it may come as a surprise when I say that the highlight of my weekend was visiting MOS Burger, a Japanese burger chain that had only recently made its mark in Australia, via Brisbane, before opening up a store in Surfers Paradise. Oh, who am I kidding? It SHOULDN’T have shocked you all – I AM, after all, a food-blogger. Duh.
Relieved to find the place free of schoolies kids (for the moment), we arrived at the ‘Coast’s inaugural MOS Burger store early enough for it to be not overly busy. The format is pretty much like a McDonalds or a Hungry Jacks store. Burgers are available to purchase on their own, or you can team them up with fries, salads, drinks or nuggets to create a combo meal. What amused me was that they didn’t have the option of combining the burger and say, your fries and drink to create a combo that would essentially save you a couple of cents (like they do at the aforementioned burger joints). Instead, a fries and drink set will set you back $3.65 so if you were to get a MOS cheese burger combo (with fries and a drink), you’d be paying $4.95 for the burger itself and then the $3.65, subsequently forking out $8.60.
Having heard that the burgers here are tiny, Marty and I both decided to get a combo and an extra burger on the side, each. I had to giggle at the paper place mats they gave us because how many idiots would choose to ignore these instructions and unwrap the burgers, subsequently making a complete ass of themselves?
This is Marty’s beef salad burger ($4.45), essentially like a Hungry Jack’s Whopper but with a tangy Thousand Island-like sauce instead of mayonnaise and a splash of teriyaki sauce. The bun was slightly sweeter than a Maccas bun, but it was also denser and more crunchy to the bite. The burger does look a tad too ‘clean’ and it’s because they are made to order, each burger getting love and attention from the team of assembly line workers behind the glass window. As I was waiting for my food, I could see them delicately put the lone slice of tomato, for example, with a pair of tongs that look like giant Tweezermans before holding up each burger to the light as if to detect any flaws. Subsequently, the burgers take longer to come out than a cheeseburger from Maccas but at least they come out looking decent and not all squishy with pieces of lettuce and onions pouring all over the bottom of your box. The burger, to me, also looked a tad radioactive in terms of colouring but I think it’s more to do with the fact that I had the wrong settings on my camera more than anything, heh.
Marty’s fish burger ($4.45). No prizes in guessing what burger ‘influenced’ the fish burger. Despite their similarities, we both thought that the fillet o’fish was a far better burger – we reckon it might have been Maccas’ orange plastic cheese that does it, hah!
He teamed his burgers up with a sunny salad set ($4.35) which was essentially a garden salad and a drink, a cranberry iced tea. Upon ordering the salad (who the hell orders a salad at a fast food outlet?!), he was asked if he wanted the thousand island dressing or the sesame dressing to which he replied, ‘Both, please’ and the girl at the counter happily chucked in a tub of each dressing. I like the tangy sesame one (it’s the same dressing that goes with Japanese beef salads), whereas the strangely radioactive-looking (and not because of my camera settings!) orange thousand island one proved to be a better dipping sauce for my chips than a salad dressing.
I had a wagyu beef burger ($6.25) which tasted almost the same as Marty’s beef salad burger, but with a wagyu pattie of course. And instead of tangy sauce, there was heaps of teriyaki sauce. And onions. And a little bit of mayonnaise, too. Despite it looking big in the photo, the burger (well, all the burgers, really) were small – slightly smaller than a Maccas burger – but they were all surprisingly filling. It must be all the sugar they put in the buns. Despite that, however, I actually thought the wagyu pattie was decent – it had the right amount of fattiness that made it equal parts juicy and firm. What’s beef? That’s beef!
My second burger was the seafood okonomi ($5.50), a rice burger that had an okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)-inspired filling. Although I’m not a fan of rice burgers, I do love okonomiyaki so I was really excited to give this one a go. Surprisingly, it wasn’t half-bad. Okay, so nothing will ever beat the awesome okonomiyaki that they used to dish out at Daimaru’s Japanese cafe in Melbourne Central back in the 90s but this was decent – I loved that they were generous with the succulent prawns, the sauces and the bonito flakes.
Although in hindsight I could have done without, I did marry my burgers with a regular chips set (chips and a cranberry tea, $3.65). The chips were a freaky shade of bright yellow, and they were reasonably crunchy but lacking in taste. Give me Maccas shoestring fries, any day.
Oh, and here is a photo of our cranberry teas just for the sake of completeness.
MOS Burger is certainly a novel concept but honestly, I think that it’s just a fad that’ll slowly plateau after some time. In saying that, however, its Surfers Paradise store will perform steadily to attract curious foodies, burger-lovers and Japanophiles in the short term. It will do well because of the market it’s serving – a high Japanese population who are homesick, a healthy dose of international students that like these sorts of quirky eateries and hey, if this city’s tourists can sustain a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum for a number of years, then it can certainly sustain a MOS Burger store. I can’t see it, however, becoming a Must Go To destination in Melbourne because there are way too many awesome family-run burger joints such as Andrews’ Burgers and Danny’s. Plus, J Cafe has already established itself as Melbourne’s premier rice burger destination, even if I don’t think they’re that fantastic. Sure, I can see MOS Burger being reasonably popular when (well, if) their flagship store opens up but like Krispy Kreme donuts, I can see the hype dying down really quickly without much room for sustainability unlike the Surfers store.