but our favorite way to spend a hot and steamy morning is by hanging out in a hot and steamy laundromat. As Chuck said, “Sticking your head in a hot dryer prepares you for the outside.” (No. He doesn’t just go around sticking his head in clothes dryers. He’s emptying the dryer.)
But as a reward for our efforts, we are going to Corky’s for some Memphis-style BBQ. Only one problem. We arrive at Corky’s at noon. On the dot. Not a second before. Not a second later. And the surprisingly small parking lot is full of cars with more cars trying to turn in. Looking for a place to park The Big White Truck, we drive down Poplar a few blocks and see—about a half a block away—a Bed Bath & Beyond with a large and almost empty parking lot. We pull in. We look around. We see Mosa Asian Bistro. We reconsider. Walk two and a half blocks in this heat? Walk a hundred yards (maybe) across the parking lot? Hello, Mosa.
We had never heard of Mosa and had no idea what kind of restaurant this might be. But once inside, I commented to Chuck that this was reminiscent of the Pei Wei chain. The menu (Pei Wei’s is much larger.) is posted on the wall just inside the doors and you place your order at a counter in the back. But unlike Pei Wei, Mosa is not a national chain. Rather, it is Memphis born and bred.
“The story of Mosa Asian Bistro began with the journey of two brothers, Eddie and Alfred Pao, who emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in 1977. In 1979, with the help of their family’s recipes, they opened the ﬁrst Formosa Restaurant…with the idea that they could bring Memphis its ﬁrst taste of true Chinese cuisine. The response from Memphians surpassed Eddie and Alfred’s wildest expectations….establishing Formosa as a local favorite and also winning the prestigious Best Chinese award from Memphis Magazine an unprecedented 19 years in a row.
“Nearly two decades after their humble beginning, Mosa Asian Bistro is the continuation of the brothers’ legacy. Mosa aims to bring the community a fusion of Korean, Japanese and Thai cuisine while staying true to its Chinese roots….Mosa emphasizes cooking meals ‘made to order’…” (mosaasianbistro.com).
As I said, the concept is familiar. For example, you can order a noodle bowl and the price will depend on whether you add vegetables, chicken, tofu, beef, or shrimp. The noodle bowls—all of which sounded delicious included: Dan Dan with carrots cucumbers, mushrooms, scallions, round egg noodles, and sweet soy sauce; Mosa Pad Thai with carrots, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, flat rice noodles, cilantro, peanuts, lime, and pad Thai sauce; Singapore Curry with carrots, green beans, mushrooms, Napa cabbage, red peppers, scallions, flat rice, noodles, cilantro, and Singapore curry sauce; and Taiwanese Lo Mein with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, scallions, red peppers, round egg noodles, soy-garlic sauce. And next to the menu was a specials board that included a curry and Korean beef.
While we were scanning the menu board, a young man came up and handed us a printed menu and explained how their system worked.
We decided to order an appetizer assortment and finally settled on the basil spring rolls, the fried potstickers, the sesame chicken, and the Thai calamari. The first item delivered to the table was the order of two basil rolls. Rolled inside the rice paper wrapper were bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, and glass noodles with a large fresh basil leaf just showing through the transparent wrapper.
Next came the sesame chicken and here is where reading the printed menu would have been a good idea. When I see the words sesame chicken on an Asian menu, I immediately think that the dish will be large chunks of battered and fried chicken, which are then tossed in a slightly sweet and sticky sauce and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. What we received was accurately described on the printed menu as “crispy tender chicken breast strips mixed with sesame seeds.”
The fried potstickers were an unusual take on this Chinese restaurant staple. Instead of the usual pork mixture, they were filled with marinated chicken, scallions, and ginger and were served with soy dipping sauce.
The Thai calamari were—to be blunt—really bad. They may have been tasty had they not been so overcooked as to be almost inedible. In fact, close to a third of the dish went uneaten. Not even the sweet
Mosa Asian Bistro is not a place I would return to, but it certainly met our needs on that particular day and earns a 3.0 Addie rating.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.