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Mua - Oakland

This is currently my favorite place when I'm craving a burger. The Acme buns are the best and the fries are good, too. The meat isn't quite at the level of Cafe Rouge (I think they grind some aged-beef trimmings in with the chuck) or Zuni, but it's very good.

I haven't tried anything else yet except the brussels sprouts in brown butter, which are great. Nice selection of beer and wine, full bar.

I like that they're open late, though call first since the kitchen has no fixed closing time.

I started a new topic to put the name in the title. Here's the previous one:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/556077

I'd never have guessed it had anything to do with Soizic, which I don't care for.

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Mua
2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

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  1. Ah thanks. May I ask what the fries are like? Steak fries size? Shoestring? "Frites" size?

    2 Replies
    1. re: PegS

      Classic American, like McDonald's for grownups. 1/4", unpeeled.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Lovely, thanks! My favorites.

    2. Also good are the short ribs, braised lamb cheeks and glazed black cod (think small plate portions for sharing).

      The only dud so far for me was their original mac & "cheese" as in where's the cheese? Too much like stove-top cooked vs oven-baked. The most recent version is cheeseless.

      1. Thanks for the report...I'm always looking for new places to try when heading to Oakland for shows at the Fox/Paramount.

        1. this place is fabulous! great burgers. fun folk. good drinks

          1. Good tip! Have you have the burger at Side Bar? I wonder how this compares with that one. I didn't care for the Cafe Rouge burger that much, mainly because of the bread.

            1 Reply
            1. re: abstractpoet

              Cafe Rouge switched to Acme buns a while back.

            2. Our party of 6 had dinner at Mua on Thursday. It was my first time there, and I liked the tunes and the urban casual feel of the unique space. I’d been a rabid fan of Café Pastorale back in the day, yet Soizic never quite did it for me. Mua is more to my liking.

              We shared a bunch of small and large plates. Briefly,

              Hamachi crudo with cucumber – Liked the cucumber underneath more than the hamachi. The thin slices didn’t have that much flavor or sweetness, maybe served too cold.

              Green salad – Nice, but hard to mess up if you have good veggies.

              Fried tofu with spicy chili sauce – Tofu cubes were fried competently with a delicate crusting. Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce was doctored with some black beans and made one of my favorite condiments even better. I liked the shaved scallions on top.

              Braised lamb cheek daube – We had two orders of this one, as it was a favorite of those who’d been here before. Three cheeks to an order. I was the first to serve myself, and my helping was barely warm. The texture of the meat suffered from this, as I imagine it would have been less stiff and rubbery if heated through. Good flavor though.

              Mac and “cheese” (contains no cheese) – Looks like mac and cheese in color, made with Dececco small shells, but uses butternut squash. Doesn’t offer the satisfaction of dairy fat, but I liked the flavor and silky texture of the sauce very much. Probably my favorite plate of the night.

              Grilled artichoke and herb aioli – Nice smoky flavor from grilling and the herbed aioli is quite delicious and whipped up. I ran my finger over my plate to get every last bit of it.

              Short ribs in hoisin sauce glaze – Cooked just a hair too long, falling apart meat had turned stringy, and I found the sauce much too sweet even with the rice. Shanghai cabbages on the side were overcooked too.

              Flatiron steak frites – Good job on the steak, topped with an herbed butter. Flatiron tends to be a bit bland, and the handling here added more layers of flavor. Frites were accompanied with lemony aioli that was too stiff and some ketchup.

              Cheeseburger and fries – I didn’t taste this, but my mom said it was good.

              With a round of alcoholic and non-alc drinks, our tabe came out to $27 per person including tax and tip. Not perfect, but good value and worth a try.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I ate there last week and IMHO the food is a disaster. I'm not sure how they managed to mess up the fried chicken but it was over-fried, dried out and had absolutely no flavor. You expect that with the fried skin it would at least have some fat residue. But it was absolutely fried out. It made my wife wish we had gone to KFC.

                I had the halibut and it was also over-cooked and dried out. The potato crust added absolutely nothing to the flavor. I had hoped that it would have kept the fish moist...wrong!!!

                We also had the mussels and fries. About a third of the mussels hadn't opened. I ate them anyway and did not get ill. I would think that they would have not even served unopened mussels. The saving grace was the fries.

                The burgers were moving and looked decent, but we didn't want a burger.

              2. Our party of three visited Mua earlier this week. I'm not sure what we expected, given the venue but--in spite of the reviews here and the contents of the online menu--I think we thought it would be more like Luka's. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised at how well-made and refined the food turned out to be. Our hamachi crudo, unlike Melanie's, was not too cold. The artichoke was great. Beef carpaccio was okay, not great, but I was happy to have it as an option. My husband and I both had the soft shell crab poor boys, which had unpleasantly hard buns (the same mistake that so many restaurants make with upscale burgers and the like) but the crab was nicely fried in a very light batter and the slaw was nicely spicy. It might be too spicy for some, I really appreciated the heat. Our companion had the lamb shish kebabs, which I didn't try but he said were very good. For desert I had a nice brownie with ice cream thing, which was as good as that sort of thing gets without being mind-blowing. Solid and tasty.

                We're definitely returning. I need to try to the fries.

                3 Replies
                1. re: PegS

                  Thanks for your report, we've almost covered the entire menu here!

                  One thing I was craving was more Korean touches in the seasonings that I recall from Pastorale. Maybe the heat is in the softshell crab sammie.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Oh yes, I forgot. I also had one of their non-alcoholic beverages - the key lime pie. It frankly tasted more like a virgin pina colada than something that was supposed to have a pronounced lime flavor.

                    1. re: PegS

                      Yep, I had one sip of the key lime pie drink and felt the coconut completely overwhelmed the lime character.

                2. I had another good burger last night. Substituted coleslaw for fries, it was undersalted and hadn't marinated long enough. Next time I'll try the green salad.

                  From what one of the servers said, the name is pronounced mwah.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I had a burger here a couple weeks ago - The burger was good but I prefer the thick cut fries at Luka's over the shoestrings at Mua. A burger and fries is also a dollar more at Mua. I think Luka's has switched to acme buns on their burgers as well - I had a burger there recently and the bun was very similar to the one at Mua (some competition maybe?)

                    1. re: Mr_Happy

                      The last few times I've gone to Luka's they either couldn't seat us or the music was unbearably loud.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        In another thread you mention that you can't imagine ordering a burger at Wood Tavern because of the pastrami or pork belly. I very much agree with you on the pastrami- I get it almost every time I visit for lunch, but I have tasted the burger several times and think it is much better than my previous standby, Luka's. Key is the quality of the meat, followed by the seasoning. Luka's is seasoned well, typically, and a good mix of meat and fat, but WT's is just so much beefier. Fries is a toss up and depends on mood, but WT's is like you describe Mua's.

                        I haven't had Cafe Rouge's in a while, but last time I did the bun and patty size seemed off to me... the patty was not flat enough and had gone all football. Meat did not particularly impress.

                        Will have to try Mua soon.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Mua --> Mwah; Coi --> Cwah...any relation?
                      (I was humiliated when I pronounced Coi like the fish when I was speaking with Chef Carlos Salgado at Taco Maria in Costa Maria).
                      To this day, my husband has only to say "Cwah" and I blush furiously.

                      1. re: Cecelia

                        No connection. Sanju and Hisuk Dong used to own Soizic, which had a lot of fans on this board.

                        1. re: Cecelia

                          Mua is supposed to be pronounced "moo-whah" and it's allegedly a Korean word meaning either "you are here" or "a different place." Here are descriptions and pronunciations from staff:

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDU1o... (timepoint 0:20

                          )

                          http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland...

                          Don't feel too bad about mispronouncing Coi's name. Patterson discusses in this video how the name is a middle-ages French word for which no one know is expected to know the meaning or pronunciation. His attempt at playfulness has no doubt embarrassed a lot of people, and made others get to play the haughty/pedantic card:

                          (timepoint 1:07 http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...

                          It's like that joke from Fawlty Towers:
                          "So Harry says 'You don't like me any more. Why not?'
                          And he says 'cos you got so terribly pretentious.'
                          And Harry says 'Pretentious? Moi?"

                          1. re: hyperbowler

                            Exactly.

                      2. I've been a few times since this place opened and am a fan. I like the different seating options - bar downstairs, lots of tables downstairs or smaller bar and table area upstairs. Music isn't too loud.

                        Food I've tried include the artichoke (grilled with aiolo), fried tofu (cubes, lightly fried in sweet sauce), fries, brussel sprouts (w/butter), salad. I'd recommend them all, especially the tofu.

                        Drinks are good. They have a full bar and a good beer and wine selection.

                        This is a welcome addition to the area.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: heupshaw

                          I'm sorry to be late to the party, but this is a very good spot.

                          Oakland, almost to a fault. Lots of tables, a whole upstairs when the downstairs gets full. The cocktails are very high quality; the apps and entrees are what I would call Zagat 22. Somewhat down from Michelin grade, but when you add the very pleasant surroundings, the wine list, the strong use of vegetables. I would take my parents; but no where near the quality of Plum, Enquentro, some of the other oakland standouts. A very good nabe joint; prices to match. Well done, and worth a short detour.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            I'm addicted to their ginger martini...

                        2. Tried a few new things, all good.

                          From the happy-hour menu, pork lettuce wraps were a sort of Korean fusion thing, presented in the usual way Koreans will eat grilled meat at the table but with a mustard sauce. Chicken wings, pretty classic American style, very spicy and sour (lots of Tabasco or something similar) with I think a mild blue cheese dressing.

                          From the dinner menu, fried chicken was very good, very traditional Southern. Large boneless breast and leg. Came with a healthy helping of good, unsweetened cole slaw and a couple of wedges of sweet cornbread. Got a side of collard greens with bacon, that was sweet and sour, usually a hard sell for me but this was balanced and good.

                          Burger great as always.