1012 Commercial Dr, Vancouver BC V5L 3W9
Another Friday night begs the age-old question “where/what should we eat?”, something every person (or couple) struggles with on a regularly basis. We did a slow drive-by down Commercial to see if we could find anything while I furiously Googled reviews of potential eateries. We saw a Japanese fried chicken joint so I called them to see if they had any spots for us and we were in luck.
When we arrived at Mogu, the restaurant was full and all 10 tables were partitioned between plexiglass dividers. We were sat at a higher communal table that was split into three sections. The restaurant was cute with a nice animé mural across one wall and a straw hut with hanging lights above our communal table.
I checked out their drink menu, of course, and found a sparkling sake which definitely piqued my interest. Sparkling sake? What the heck was that? I ordered it purely out of curiosity. The server must have forgotten because we didn’t end up getting the bottle until we asked again when our main courses arrived. The sake was light and very sweet, it reminded me of a sweet sparkling wine though it did have a trace of sake flavor. I enjoyed it but it was definitely too saccharine for my personal taste. The champagne flutes that came with the bottle were very cute though.
For an appetizer, we order Spicy Tuna bites which were deep fried rice rectangles with mixed raw tuna on top. I had something similar at Green Leaf and really enjoyed it. This order also didn’t arrive until after we got our main course and reminded them. The tuna bites were crispy and golden on the outside and the tuna was light and creamy. There was not much of a spicy flavor though. I also appreciated that there was no pool of oil at the bottom which means it wasn’t as greasy as the time I had it before.
My partner went with their eponymous fried chicken – 5 piece meal with sides. Of the three sauces you can pick from for your chicken: Original Sweet Chili, Spicy Gochujang Sesame, and Shio Garlic Lemon, he went with the Spicy Gochu. His meal came with rice, miso soup, pickled cucumber slices, and a Mogu salad. All the components were adorable and bento-box-style. His chicken was delicious and the sauce had some heat to it. The chicken itself was juicy and cooked perfectly with the skin layer being similar to a dry rib texture/flavor than a typical KFC-style breading. I really loved that about it. The Miso soup was savory with a rich umami flavor but not overly salty. The salad was fresh with sliced avocado. And, the pickled cucumber had a really tangy brine. Over all, this meal was everything and more and I would come back for it.
I ordered a beef short rib hot stone bowl, which is essentially bibimbap. It came in a hot stone bowl of course, with: rice, braised beef with BBQ sauce, scallions, kimchi, and a raw egg. I mixed it all up and devoured the whole bowl. I personally love bibimbap and this Japanese version had all the components that made it perfect for a rice bowl. The beef was soft and sweet from the sauce. The kimchi gave it a bit of crunch and spice. The scallions added a fresh kick. And, the egg helped to meld all the different parts together. Aside from the chicken, this was a highlight for me.
The kitchen staff delivered all of our food, while the servers ran around taking orders, delivering drinks, and clearing tables. Everyone was pulling their weight in this little joint and were all genuinely sweet and kind. They missed a couple of items and took a while to deliver drinks and food but there was heart and hustle there. It seemed like the staff worked in the original food truck and were transitioning to brick & mortar store, which has new challenges. With time, I hope that their service improves to the calibre of their food, I know they can do it!
- Mio Sparkling Sake, 300ml $21
- Spicy Tuna Bites $10
- Chicken Meal, 5 Piece, Spicy Gochujang Sesame (w/ Rice, Miso Soup, Small Side Dish, choice of Creamy Potato Salad or Mogu Salad) $21
- Braised Beef Short Rib Hot Stone Rice Bowl $19