When Hubert Young first tried MOS Burger in Japan in 1998, he knew back then the food concept would be a hit among Filipinos. But the timing, he recalled, was less than perfect.
“MOS at that time was focused on strengthening its presence in Japan. Bringing the brand to foreign markets was not a priority for them back then. And I was also busy with a lot of other things,” he said.
More than two decades later, Young is now the chief executive officer of MOS Burger Philippines.
And MOS Burger, since it opened its first branch in Tokyo in 1972, is now the second-largest fast-food chain in Japan, with 1,300 stores. It has likewise strengthened its foothold in the region, with over 300 stores in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.
Its first store in Manila opened at Robinsons Galleria last week, the product of a joint venture between MOS Food Services Inc. of Japan and Young’s own Tokyo Coffee Holdings, which is also behind the UCC chain of food and coffee concepts.
“We are positioning MOS in a very competitive market. We are a cook-to-order restaurant. MOS Burger is not fast food. We are more of a fast casual,” said Young.
MOS’ price point is a little higher than the usual fast food burger joints. The MOS Cheeseburger, at P149, is made with soft buns, juicy beef patty, tomatoes, a slice of cheese, and MOS’ special meat sauce. The Yakiniku Rice Burger (P169) has tender yakiniku beef strips sandwiched between soy-glazed rice patties. There is also the Seafood Tempura Rice Burger (P169) that features a patty made with squid, fish, shrimps, crabstick, and vegetables—similar to kakiage—that is drizzled in tempura sauce.
For customers who want a lighter fare, the beef yakiniku can be served wrapped in lettuce for P189. The priciest items on the menu, on the other hand, are the Wagyu Burger (P299) and Wagyu Rice Burger (P309).
“Our rice burgers make us different. But MOS is very receptive to innovation. When we told them we wanted to add garlic to the rice patty since Filipinos are very familiar with tapsilog and garlic rice, they agreed to our suggestion. They believe a key to success is to localize. So now this garlic rice patty is only available in the Philippines,” shared Young.
For Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda, MOS Burger embodies the Japanese belief of food and medicine coming from the same source or ishoku dogen.
“MOS Burger only serves safe, healthy, and delicious food. It is really happiness on a plate,” Haneda said during the opening ceremony last week.
For Young, the timing could not have been any more perfect for his aggressive expansion plan.
Five more branches will open this year at SM Megamall, Eastwood, Robinsons Magnolia, Greenhills, and Robinsons Manila.
By 2027, Young said he hopes to have opened 40 to 50 branches of MOS Burger across the country.
“We are bullish on the market. The market is ready for better burgers,” he added.
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