Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mogambo Bar and Grill

An unfortunate aspect of being a Giant is constantly worrying about your next meal: when will it happen, where will it be provided, what does it consist of, etc.  Seeing as though traditional Vietnamese portions are rather scant, a Giant transplanted into an East Asian context has an even bigger preoccupation: wondering if their next meal will be filling and appropriate to his body mass.  Being the spouse of a Giant is often an unenviable position as one has to be constantly prepared.  An unending search for substantial meals to fuel an insatiable appetite fills my days.  To ward off petulant hunger tantrums, I am always on the lookout for quick bites and snacks.

One of my Giant’s favorite meals as of late is hamburgers.  After hungrily devouring Black Cat’s "Garfield" and many a homemade black bean burger, we decided to diversify.  Mogambo came highly recommended by our meat-friendly colleague Javier.  He had described a strange, dimly-lit tropical world with corpulent matriarchs stretched lazily over divans and robust burgers that melt in your mouth.  We were intrigued...

Tucked into an unassuming storefront (especially for such an ostentatious interior), Mogambo is located between Ham Nghi and Thuc Khang at the beginning of Pasteur Street in District One.   We were immediately astounded by the decor of the establishment.  The walls were covered in varnished teak and bamboo siding, which zigzagged around the room in a claustrophobia-inducing pattern.  It reminded me of a Colonialist outpost on the edge of a murky jungle, where big game hunters knocked back countless scotch-and-sodas before embarking into the heart of darkness.  Paintings of half-naked African women and stuffed carcasses of various monkeys and jungle cats lined the walls.  A massive Zebra pelt took center stage, covering the majority of one wall near the entrance.  A long, sleek wooden bar lined with tall stools stood on one side of the narrow restaurant and rows of diner style booths on the other.  Gavin and I scooted into a comfy corner booth and quietly took in the sensory overload.

Gavin quickly found a traditional burger, while I struggled with the menu.   While extremely comprehensive for omnivores, I was left with two vegetarian options to choose from:  a French Onion Soup or a House Salad.  I went with the aforementioned soup.
Immersed in such a festive atmosphere, one can't help but imbibe.  Our drinks were delivered, Gavin's Tiger draft was quite nice, whereas my Campari Soda left much to be desired.  They must have measured out about a half-shot of Campari and diluted it down with an entire can of soda - leaving me with a slightly pink, fizzy water.

Gavin's meal came out first.  In typical fashion, he wolfed most of it down before my soup even arrived.  He deemed it a pretty standard burger.  A noteworthy bun, a large fresh patty, and average fries.  Extra points were given for the cornichons that came on the side!

My soup arrived paired with a side of chewy sourdough bread.  After watching Gavin eat most of his meal while I hungrily waited, I was overly excited to dig in and managed to scald my tongue on the first bite.  The broth was tasty and the three thick bread slices submerged in the soup and smothered in a thin, but rewarding layer of cheese were divine.  However, I thought it strange that an already bready soup would be accompanied by... drum-roll please... more bread.  Although it was no La Bonne Soupe, it did the trick and filled me up. 

Over all the experience was full of peaks and valleys.  It's quite pricey for Saigonese standards, but the kitschy ambiance is a welcome reprieve from the sleek, ultra-modern asceticism adopted by most eateries these days.  The food is standard, but the staff is attentive.  On the bright side, I don't think I have ever consumed so many carbs in one sitting, so at least a record was set.  While I don't think I will be returning due to the meaty menu, Gavin mentioned it would be a great spot to go with a bunch of fellow Giants for an "Alpha-Male Meat Fest"... whatever that means.


Isis said...

Nellie -

Good thing my Bro got me an IPhone so I can wax poetic about your White Game Adventures while riding through an endless slew of elderly Asianladies who speak to one another, surely gossiping, I almost feel I'm in Beijing.

That restaurant looks AWESOME !!! I Love Your Posts !!!

You know, when I was in jail, - and btw, I love to watch peoples faces change when I start a sentence that way - "Political Activism", it's not all it's cracked to be - I read a book on TAHITI, in the County Jail Library for who knows why... to Torture People About A Beautiful Place? Anyway, the Naked Girls reminded me of that.....

That restaurant looks very intruiging indeed. I'm so amused by you and G finding amazing (!!!) places and sharing them with your fans.

I also - just a suggestion, take it as you will -- started eating meat ... Lamb, Beef, Bacon, Salami ... Everything I eschewed for so long, like 10 years, and I feelmore free, in a Culinary sense. But I don't know what, if any, your reasons are for Vegetarianism.

Well, gettin' off here = N Judah = going to "MISSION DOLORES" to a great fabric store, very windy here and I'm gonna sew tonite. G LOVE AND SPECIAL SAUCE tomorrow nite at the Fillmore.

Have a great weekend !!

Xox Isis

Greg said...

I remember visiting SF Chinatown.Gavin's grandfather was easy to spot towering over all the shoppers. Family of Giants :)
Great post. A cultural mash-up.