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Monday, May 17, 2010

MOS burger, sake and the Susukino Ice Festival, Japan

MOS Burger

I don't eat a lot of fast food, but in Japan, even the humble hamburger is elevated to a new height of deliciousness.

Daiso 100 yen shop

After our morning walk to the Nijo Fish Market, we'd stumbled upon a five-storey Daiso building. Daiso is a chain of 100-yen shops, usually quite large in size. This five-storey building was the biggest one we encountered on our travels - five dazzling floors of kitchenware, bakeware, bathroom products, clothing, toiletries, haberdashery, confectionery, gadgets and more. Almost everything is 100 yen plus 5% sales tax. We spent hours in there, trapped in a maze of ridiculous consumerism, helplessly piling our baskets high with things we didn't need but couldn't resist.

MOS Burger

Laden down with our 105 yen shopping, MOS Burger was the ideal pit-stop for lunch. MOS stands for Mountain Ocean Sun, and The menu is similar to most burger chains, but its fans swear by its freshness and the alarming but welcome similarity between the burger photos on the menu, and the burger each and every customer receives.

MOS hamburger with tomato and lettuce 420 yen

Our burgers are delivered to our tables in a wicker basket. The MOS cheese hamburger is almost jaunty in appearance, a slice of fresh tomato so thick that the airy bun on top sits at an angle. Being presented with a fast food hamburger that is neither squashed nor flattened is a welcome delight.

A pile of finely shredded lettuce is green and crisp, a beef patty spread liberally with a tangy onion and tomato sauce. The buns are soft and sweet and the abundance of salad adds a notion of healthiness.

MOS cheeseburger 350yen (about AU$4.40 in Feb 2010)

The MOS cheeseburger is also generously sized. A slathering of tomato sauce studded with onion adds sweetness. It's fast food but not as you know it.

Onion rings 230yen

Onion rings are covered in a light batter that is crisp and golden. Inside, the onion is soft, sweet and almost clear. The small portion size is a surprise at first, but only goes to show how excessive portion sizes have grown to be in Australia.

White grape soda

The soft drink menu goes beyond the usual Coke, Fanta and Lemonade. Pocahontas opts for the white grape soda which tastes much like Maison. Glasses of water are provided for all patrons.

Upstairs is an enclosed space that looks like it's a hangout for the cool kids, until we realise it's actually the smoking room! Japan is dotted with these, allowing smokers to congregate as one.

Sapporo Chitosetsuru sake museum

Pocahontas and I head to the Sapporo Chitosetsuru sake museum for a brief wander. Most of the information panels are in Japanese but there is an opportunity to sample the sake.

Sake samples

The sake is dry and crisp, a specialty in this region where water is never in short supply.

Water from the well

Sake has been made here for over 130 years, using water drawn from a well that lies 150 metres beneath the sake factory. Sourced from the Toyohira River, the pH level of the water is medium hard, a perfect balance of minerals that is said to be optimal for brewing sake.

Sake ice cream 300yen

Despite the fact it's 2C outside, we still find an appetite for ice cream. Tubs of sake ice cream are frozen rock hard and the flavour of sake is a little hard to discern.

Sake soft serve ice cream 350 yen

It's easier to detect the flavour of sake in the soft serve ice cream, a slightly heady aroma that builds on the back of the palate.

Susukino Ice Festival

In the evening, we take in the ice sculptures of the Susukino Ice Festival. Susukino is known as the red light district, an area filled with bars and clubs. During the Sapporo Snow Festival, the main street is lined with ice sculptures, clear blocks of ice carved with chainsaws. Dragons, swans and egrets, there were even carvings with blocks of ice imprisoned with real fish and crabs.

Ice blocks with real crabs and fish inside


Ice carver at work with a chainsaw


Snack stall made with walls of ice

Grilled scallops 2 for 300 yen

To combat the cold? Grilled scallops straight off the heat.

Ice slide

The kids love the ice slide which rapidly builds up speed, and whilst adults can't have a go, they seem more than happy with the motorcar, made from ice of course!

Father and son in an ice-carved motorcar

The 61st Sapporo Snow Festival ran from 5-11 February 2010. This annual event is held for seven days in February.

Chitosetsuru Sake Museum
Minami 3 jo, Higashi 5 chome (Chuo-ku)

Sapporo, Japan
Tel: +81 (011) 221 7570

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 10am - 6pm

< Go back to the first Japan 2010 post

Related Grab Your Fork posts:

Read about my trip to Japan in 2007Read about my trip to Japan in 2004
23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/17/2010 12:48:00 am


  • At 5/17/2010 1:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    YUMMMM MOS baagaaa but I have to disagree with their sizes, fast food burgers in Japan (and tw) are tinnnyyy!! I usually get their rice burgers mmmm and those ice sculptures look so awesome!

  • At 5/17/2010 2:03 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    nawww i wouldve loved to go on the ice slide!

  • At 5/17/2010 8:32 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Those are seriously the prettiest fast food burgers I've ever seen. And I love the sound of the sake soft serve, I have a thing for eating ice cream in winter ;)

  • At 5/17/2010 11:43 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    love the post! those burgers look great.
    p.s. would i be too big for the slide?!

  • At 5/17/2010 12:10 pm, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Damn! I would love to have a go on that slide too! Love MOS burger...I've "indulged" a few times there in my travels.

  • At 5/17/2010 12:25 pm, Anonymous Tina said…

    Sake soft serve?! Scallops off the grill?! Oooh... so jealous right now.

  • At 5/17/2010 1:16 pm, Blogger nomnomnibblies said…

    ohh!! mos burgers <3 hehe and i'd like to try the sake ice cream and soft serve :O !!! the ice slide and car are so cute >< so jealous of those kids

  • At 5/17/2010 1:38 pm, Anonymous MissDissent said…

    I want a teriyaki MOS burger so bad. I got addicted in Hawaii.

  • At 5/17/2010 1:38 pm, Anonymous MissDissent said…

    I want a teriyaki MOS burger so bad. I got addicted in Hawaii.

  • At 5/17/2010 2:37 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Oh yummy onion rings! And it is never too cold for ice cream. Those ice sculptures all look pretty cool.

  • At 5/17/2010 2:45 pm, Blogger the lacquer spoon said…

    Thanks you for reporting your culinary journeys. Amazing! I imagine you grubbed your forks... and chopsticks :) In addition to MOS, hope you’ll also try “Lucky Pierrot” when you’re back to Hokkaido. It’s a fast food chain with only 14 outlets around Hakodate city. Offering burgers and other quick menus, the shop has got a huge hit so that MacDonald’s had to withdraw from the area! Well, I haven't been there yet, but that's definitely on my itinerary :)

  • At 5/17/2010 3:41 pm, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    I am in love with MOS burger. Everytime I head back to SG, MOS burger is one of my hit list.

  • At 5/17/2010 7:05 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Sake soft serve icecream sounds amazing!

  • At 5/17/2010 7:38 pm, Anonymous Mark @ Cafe Campana said…

    Mmmmm cheeseburger. I love cheesebergers, this one looks pretty good.

  • At 5/17/2010 9:27 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Ice slide! And sake soft serve - WOW =)

  • At 5/18/2010 12:27 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Would you believe I've never had onion rings? Not even during the eleven and then two months I've spent in the US in recent years... fail me.

    But even if you offered me some right now, I'll still prefer the sake soft serve. Mmmm.

  • At 5/18/2010 3:17 pm, Anonymous Katie said…

    I loved MOS burger while we were over there - found them to be so tasty and while tiny, at least they were well-made and flavoursome.

    We attended the snow festival last year and were amazed by the sculptures - there are some truly amazing artists there! We stayed until the last day of the festival then watched them bulldoze everything down - was a strange feeling to see the amazing sculptures just become mounds of snow and ice!

  • At 5/19/2010 10:01 am, Blogger Two fit and fun gals said…

    mm sake icecream? i wants!

  • At 5/19/2010 12:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ah! The famous MOS burgers! What don't we have them here? I wish I could still go on the ice slide!

  • At 5/19/2010 11:24 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    It's interesting that hard water is good for making sake. It's not so nice on its own! Fancy using a chainsaw to make sculptures that look so delicate!

  • At 5/25/2010 1:22 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi FFichiban - I take no complaints about tiny burger from a guy who attempted to eat a 2kg hamburger. lol.

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Ha, I can imagine you would have too. It was very slippery. One 8yo almost whooshed straight into the crowd!

    Hi Stephcookie - The burgers really are impressive in apperance - not a squashed bun in sight. And lol, I can never eat ice cream in winter. Ok, maybe sometimes. lol

    Hi An - I think there was an age limit of about 8. lol.

    Hi Peter G - I'm guessing there's an untapped market for adult-sized ice slides! The MOS burger was tasty, and what is life about if not for the occasional indulgence :)

    Hi Tina - We had a ball in Japan. So many more pics and posts to share!

    Hi nomnomnibblies - The sake ice cream was intriguing and yes, don't we all want to be a kid again?

    Hi MissDissent - I didn't get a chance to try the teriyaki burgers. Next time!

    Hi Angie - I have a weakness for onion rings too. I don't usually eat a lot of ice cream in winter but maybe that's what the hot fudge sauce is for!

    Hi the lacquer spoon - Ooh thanks for the tip-off about Lucky Pierrot. Now I wish we'd noticed it and tried it out. A McDonalds retreat is certainly significant!

    Hi penny - It seems like everyone has a lot of MOS burger love :)

    Hi Gourmet Chick - The sake soft serve had a lovely alcoholic hint.

    Hi Mark - I love cheeseburgers too :)

    Hi mademoiselle delicieuse - Japan is like that. All kinds of wow. lol

    Hi Hannah - You've never had onion rings? Egads. I wonder what onion rings taste like dipped in sake soft serve...

    Hi Katie - It's amazing how fast food in Japan can taste so fresh and good. The snow festival was a real highlight of our trip. Watching the sculptures being destroyed would have been rather heartwrenching!

    Hi Betty - lol. Maybe one to test out at home! Otherwise a good excuse to get to Japan? Yes?

    Hi Ellie - Ahh yes it would be great if we had MOS burger here, although I bet the kids here would still squash those buns before you got them. lol

    Hi Arwen - The pH levels of water is interesting. I know I hate washing my hair in hard water. So hard to lather! lol.

  • At 5/25/2010 9:07 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Mos burger *sigh* I love that they deliver their burgers nearly exactly as shown on the menu! perfection of fast food!

  • At 5/30/2010 1:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    oh im jealous again!! Been a while since ive been in Japan,just like FFichiban said, why not rice burgers!! haha well apart from them collapsing when u eat it.........



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