Moga is a new Japanese restaurant at Rosalie, serving a mix of dishes that should satisfy both sushi-train lovers and fans of authentic Japanese cuisine.
I saw it advertised last weekend and, with my birthday to celebrate, we booked, jumped in the car, and headed over for an early Saturday night dinner.
As always seems to happen, our two sons (aged 9 and 11) were already starving when we reached the restaurant. Often this results in bad tempers and whinges while we order and wait for our food to come.
But Moga has the perfect solution. Although the sushi train is separate from the a la carte dining area, the waitress explained that we could take our kids in to choose a couple of dishes from the train to keep them happy while we got through the process of ordering and waiting for our a la carte dishes to come. (However, I don't think this is generally allowed for older patrons, so don't go along expecting to mix the two in normal circumstances.)
We walked through the beautifully decorated dining area, complete with hanging lanterns and lots of lovely wood, into the separate sushi train eatery. The dishes circulating on the track looked pretty standard, and my boys chose a dish each to bring back to our table.
They were fine, but, to be honest, I can't remember what they were now, because they were eclipsed by the dishes we went on to order from the formal menu -- and the boys agreed.
Moga is a sharing restaurant, much like Japanese tapas, with pages of small dishes to choose from. Cold dishes include sashimi (starting at $17 for a plate), oysters with various Japanese jellies ($13), seafood sushis, and many hand-rolled nigiri treats.
But it was a cold night and we wanted warmth, so we started with some healthy flamed dishes from the robata grill. Pork kushi (skewered pork belly, $8.90), beef kushi (skewered beef, also $8.90), pork spare ribs ($7.90), and grilled white fish ($8) were all delectable -- flavoursome, tender, and enough on each plate to share between four.
We moved on to agedashi tofu with soft-shell crab ($12), and a couple of serves of gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) -- one pork and vegetable, one chicken ($7.90 for a serve of four). All were moist and tasty, with fresh, delicately balanced flavours. My older son commented on how much better the gyoza were than the standard ones he gets in most sushi train restaurants.
One of the things I liked best about Moga was that my boys ate a range of Japanese food that was healthy and light and wasn't deep-fried. Having done their duty in that direction, though, they were permitted to order one of their crunchy favourites -- chicken karage (the Japanese version of chicken nuggets). Again, it was very good, and definitely a cut above what you normally find in a standard sushi outlet.
With a little bit of space left in our tummies, we ordered a mussel soup (the most expensive dish of the night at around $17), which was pleasant but not a knockout. We did finish with a bang, though, when we ordered white sesame mousse with green tea ice-cream for dessert ($13). We all oohed and ahhed as we spooned our way through its creamy Japanese yumminess. It was like nothing else I've ever tasted, and definitely one of the best Asian desserts I've had.
All up our bill came to around $140, including a Japanese beer for my husband and an alcoholic plum soda for me. This is more than we pay at a standard Asian restaurant, but worth every penny as far as I was concerned.
No, the serves weren't huge (and my husband did comment that he could have eaten a little more), but this food was interesting, balanced, flavoursome and healthy. I got to taste lots of different things, fill up on delicious dishes, and walk away feeling virtuous and comfortable. And there were pages of dishes left that we'd love to go back and try.
A perfect birthday dinner, as far as I'm concerned.