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About MOS Japanese Rice Burgers

The story goes that a man named Satoshi Sakurada visited the popular American burger joint called Tommy’s and decided to bring the cook-to-order burger concept to Japan. He opened his first operation in the early 1970s and his Asian-style burgers were a hit. Today, MOS (which stands for mountain, ocean, sun) is the second largest fast food burger franchise in Japan. Although Sakurada-san passed away in 1997, MOS continues to bring very unique Asian-flavored burgers to lucky customers in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia.

The first MOS burger was the teriyaki burger, but the menu item that secured the company’s success was the Rice Burger. Unlike American rice burgers that use the grain as a vegetarian replacement for the beef patty, the MOS Rice Burger kept the beef and replaced the bread-y wheat buns with bun-shaped rice discs. The rice “buns” are made with rice, barley and millet, formed and pan-seared to hold their shape. As Asians are rice devotees, the new rice burgers drew far more interest than American-style burgers.

And that’s not the only difference. MOS made “burgers” out of favorite Asian dishes, including shrimp fritters, fried clams, curry and potatoes, ground chicken and daikon, beef strips and onions, kinpira (burdock) and carrots, and pork and ginger. The American cheeseburger and original teriyaki burger with wheat buns are still on the menu for those who crave strictly Western flavors.

MOS once operated four outlets in Waikiki, Hawaii, but the last one closed in 2005. Sadly, there are no stores outside of East Asia. I would love to try a MOS rice burger. Which one? They all sound delicious! Like most Japanese, I prefer rice over bread so the idea of a burger on rice buns sounds exciting!

Because I’ve never eaten one, there is no way for me to compare a rice bun recipe, but from what I gathered so far, the rice buns are pretty soft. Bloggers say that they do not hold up during eating like a wheat bun. Diners usually end up using a fork or hold everything together in the wrapper. That makes me believe that the rice “buns” are similar to yaki-onigiri, pan-seared rice balls only flattened.

Why not make some flat yaki-onigiri and place a burger patty between two layers of rice? It will be your own MOS-style rice burger. To make yaki-onigiri, simply form hot cooked white rice into balls, or in this case flatten rounds. Be sure your hands are wet with water to prevent sticking and burning. Press tightly. Lightly oil a hot grill or griddle (although not traditional, I like to use sesame oil) and carefully lay the rice patties down. Sear each side until slightly toasted. Brush with soy sauce. Use as “buns” for your favorite fillings like ground chicken patty made with daikon and teriyaki sauce. Then, share your experiences in our BellaOnline.com Japanese Food forum!

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