HALE W18 Masthead

First Look: Mookie

Beatrice Smith

Vibrant hoarding has been long been piquing interest on Genge Street and now we can reveal what’s behind the brightly coloured doors of Mookie. 

The eye-catching shopfront will provide a new take on burgers when they open next month. Behind Mookie is longtime cafe owner Jaye Min who currently owns cafés at the ANU and previously in Sydney. He says a recent trip to both the US and Japan provided the seed of inspiration for Mookie, as the menu will be a fusion of American and Japanese elements, but not just in the flavours.

“We came up with the idea of combining Japanese neatness and [finesse] with classic American burgers,” he explains.


Image: instagram.com/mookieburger

This attention to detail is obvious as Jaye guides me through the fit out of the restaurant. There’s the frozen custard machine that’s being custom-made in the US which produces a product “five times denser than ice cream”, a gelato fridge being made in Italy, and the team went through 18 different types of cheese finding the perfect combination for their special cheese fries. It’s clear that Jaye is painstakingly building Mookie to be as efficient as possible at producing a product that he can be proud of.

“The grills are special as they cook the patties to a perfect medium rare,” he explains. “We’ll hand grind the beef for the burgers every morning from three very very fine cuts including a sirloin to create a 100% Angus beef patty with no hormones, no antibiotics ever and every single cut of beef we put in our patties will have the right percentage of fat.”

Fitting with Mookie’s modus operandi, the menu is simple, yet mouth-watering—or as Jaye describes it, “small but refined”.

IMG_6866 2

There will be a classic beef burger with special Mookie sauce, a grilled chicken burger with a secret Mookie marinade and a special Southern-style chicken burger that Jaye stresses isn’t battered but is instead coated with a mixture that has been handcrafted from 32 ingredients.

“Everything—absolutely everything—will be fresh, not frozen…except the frozen custard!” he adds with a laugh.

For the vegetarians, there will be a portobello mushroom burger stuffed generously with cheese and coated in Japanese panko, and for the vegans, a Japanese-style tofu burger that Jaye explains tastes like egg but is 100% vegan with a miso hoisin sauce.

As previously mentioned, the fries will be getting the royal treatment with a range of delish-sounding toppings like cheese and there will be sweet potato fries with maple syrup and crispy bacon or sweet paprika, sour cream and chives. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be Mexican-style fries with guac and special seasoning and potato gems with jalapeños, cheese sauce and spring onions.

heavy breathing gif

Naturally, the frozen custard machine will be getting a starring role, producing ‘concretes’—an American style sundae where custard is mixed with toppings like Oreo and chocolate. Frozen custard will also be going into their range of shakes (“not milkshakes, not thick shakes – right in the middle”), which Jaye explains will be a mixture of classic and never-seen-before flavours.

“We’ll have a peanut butter miso shake—I thought it was weird the first time but it tasted amazing—and a matcha shake.”

If you’re after something a little more low-key, there will also be kombucha, iced teas, soft drinks and beer.

As for the fit out, Jaye explains that he approached friend and celebrated interior designer Paul Kelly, asking him to create a space that felt like a designer clothing store.

What Paul came back with was an airy, light space with an eye-catching design feature above the counter that will see thousands of tiny aluminium panels rippling continuously. Paired with the striking red and purple branding designed by Canberra-based graphic design firm ED., the space is sure to be Instagram heaven, to say the least. There will also be up to 70 seats available both inside and outside so you can dine in or take away.

But what it all boils down to for Jaye is accessibility, as he stresses that he wants everything—from the ingredients to the fit out to the food, the service and the decor—to be five star…except the price tag.

“For me, hospitality is not about how much you charge people and how expensive your food is. I want a place that ticks all the boxes, where everyone can come and not pay $50 per head to enjoy a good [meal].”

the essentials 

What: Mookie
Where: 21 Genge Street, Civic
When: Opening August, keep an eye on their socials for updates
Facebook: facebook.com/pg/mookieburger
Instagram: instagram.com/mookieburger


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author