Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mos Burger on the Beach

In the large multinational corporation that my husband and I work for, the region where we work is called Minami (South) Kanto. Our boss jokingly calls it Miami Kanto, and for a while I thought he was merely referring to the crime rate. My daily routine pretty much takes me on a straight line from my apartment to the train station, along a stretch of the old Tokaido highway, which, despite its historic nature, is now lined with drive-thru McDonalds and the odd Ringer Hut, but we had heard muttering there was a beach nearby.

The sky was spitting a bit of rain, and I was feeling the effects of one too many of the happy hour Gin Tonics from the Hub Pub the night before (260 yen! That's free in Tokyo!), so it was the perfect day for Peter to insist that I ride the 15k along the beach to Kamakura with him. Something about an archery contest. If you've been in a relationship long enough, you know that it's sometimes better to not argue; suffer; and be morally righteous later on. You get way better concessions that way. So I got on my 3-gear bike, shopping baskets and all, and rode off behind him.

Well, there was a beach, and it was full of incredibly fit Japanese men wandering around in skin suits pulled down around their waists. The day improved dramatically. Actually, the whole area reminded me of Bondi in Sydney, with sidewalks given over to board-waxing, and people running around with board attachment for their bicycles, and little wheeled-contraptions for pushing their boards around on. People who didn't have their own boards strolled optimistically around in board shorts - I hadn't seen so many people cram themselves into such weather-optimistic clothing since the last time I was in Canada in the summer. It couldn't have been more than 18 degrees, and yet there were people walking around in sandals.

Okay, maybe my time in Hanoi has affected my opinion about what's technically considered warm weather. But if I hear another person here tell me, "You think it's hot now - wait until the summer hits - " and I have to patiently remind them that I lived in Vietnam, thankyouverymuch, and I have a passing acquaintance with the concepts of both "hot" and "humid".....

Sorry. Where was I?

Right, lunch. About halfway down to the beach, the lure of all the beachside cafes was too much to resist, so we pulled over into the bike parking (in Japan, there's always bike parking, although my shopping bicycle looked a bit ridiculous in with all the hyper-stylish bicycles there) and hopped on to the deck of the beach-side Mos Burger.

Mos Burger, for those of you who can't be bothered to click through, is a Japanese burger chain. Their patties are a pork-beef mix, and come with innovative toppings like grated daikon and spaghetti sauce. They actually taste a lot better than they sound. Mos burger outlets have a slightly more upscale look to them than your average fast food burger place, and give you your drinks in real glasses, which I always think is a nice touch. Burgers come in baskets, tastefully wrapped, as burgers in Japan always are, in an origami of waxed paper to prevent any burger drips from getting all over you. Of course, that's where the fun is in a good burger, but you can't tell a whole country that. I was tired and a little cranky, so I staked out a claim on the deck while Peter manfully stood in line to order. Like in much of Asia, the air heating/cooling of buildings are set to seasonal timers, so that no matter the actual ambient outdoor temperature, until June, the indoors will be heated. In June, they will switch over to being cooled, until the end of October, when they will be heated again. At no time will the indoor temperature be set anywhere near "comfortable". Actually, this might explain all the shorts and sandals.

At any rate, it was far too warm to eat inside, so the deck it was. Belatedly, I realized I was in the "pet parking" and smoking zone. Somebody's golden retriever put its head in my lap, and I gave it an ear-scratch while I texted Peter my lunch order. In Japan, it's perfectly safe to leave your purse, your child, and anything else you happen to have with you, at a table in a restaurant while you go up to order. No one would dare take anything, nor move it to take the table for themselves. On the weekend, Starbucks need to have crowd wranglers and waiting areas just to get everyone seats within reasonable times. I still can't get used to that, though, so I missed the opportunity to explore the menu at length and just asked for a burger, diet coke and onion rings.

There was no diet coke (there never is! whyohwhy?), but I got my onion rings, which alone are worth the trip to Mos. Light, golden, barely carrying the weight of their tempura batter, and served, sadly without ketchup. The burger came covered with a slice of tomato and a slurry of what the British would call bolognese sauce. Who could say why? It tasted fine, and I was in no position to argue.

I didn't share a single bit, even when the retriever started drooling.


Randi said...

Speaking of Canada in summer, Robin and I are headed to Halifax this summer. Any tips or hints? We're also going to Cape Breton for her family's reunion.

nakji said...

Hi randi!

Well, it's been a while since I ate out seriously in Halifax, but there are a few places that were still around when I went home for Christmas. Chives on Barrington street is nice for fine dining. My Other Brother Darrell's on...uh...Upper Water street maybe? Anyway, it's right across from NSCAD, has yummy wraps and milkshakes if you're downtown shopping. If you're self-catering, as the Lonely Planet guides always put it, check out Pete's Frootique in Bedford or downtown Halifax for good quality produce and imported cheese and charcuterie. I'm sure you'll have lobster, but try mussels as well - most places in downtown Halifax have them on the menu, and they're hard to botch. Hopefully the Farmer's Market will be in full swing then, in a new location I hear, worth a visit for a Steve-o-Reno's coffee and Mary's Breadbasket cinnamon roll.

Where are you going in Cape Breton? If it's anywhere near Cheticamp, stop into Wabo's for pizza. Very Canadian-style pizza, but in a really good way, if you know what I mean.