Mmm, Mmoon Empanadas

The Mmoon's ham and cheese empanada.

The Mmoon is rising in downtown San Jose.

That would be the Mmoon empanada cafe to be exact.

Two brothers from Argentina — one who worked in financial services, the other in business ventures — are opening their first restaurant Sept. 13 in what was the old Emma’s taqueria on W. Santa Clara St.

Yes, more empanadas, which seem to be popping up with such regularity in the Bay Area now, that they might soon give the cupcake craze a run for its money.

Flaky, pastry-like crusts with assorted fillings.

Mike Mendez, however, got the idea for this long ago. In fact, while he was still in college, he banged out the business plan for it — on a typewriter no less. Remember those?

It seemed a good idea to him back in 1980 and even more so in today’s long suffering economy. “It’s fast and affordable,” says Mendez, 52 of Los Altos. “People need something like that.”

Nine empanadas ($1.90 to $2.35 each, depending on the variety) will be offered at this fast, casual spot, where you order at the counter. Some are based on family recipes. Others are newfangled concoctions, such as the addicting “Banapple,” a half-moon pastry dusted with powdered sugar and filled with chunks of apples and bananas, sauteed in butter, brown sugar and maple syrup.

Last week, I got a chance to sample a few of the empanadas at an invitation-only preview party.

The four-inch empanadas have a buttery, flaky, pastry-like crust. In fact, after many failed attempts at creating their own dough, the brothers decided to import the frozen dough directly from Argentina instead.

“We tried. I was covered in flour. But we just couldn’t get it as flaky,” Mendez says. “So if something works, why try to change it?”

Sweet corn kernels and gooey, melted cheese make up this empanada.

My favorite one of sauteed, caramelized apples and bananas.

The satisfying ham and cheese one has a nice hit of black pepper. The corn-filled empanada has a subtle sweetness alongside gooey cheese. Although satiating, it’s probably the least complex tasting of the ones I tasted.

The pizza one, enclosed around a filling of pepperoni, sausage, tomato and cheese, reminded me of a party hors d’oeuvre. Fun, in a different way.

The beef tri-tip one had a wonderful piquant quality from the olives and tomatoes in the mix of ground beef, provolone and hard-boiled egg. The Mmoon makes its own dipping sauces, too. The tangy, orange-hued chimichurri sauce loaded with parsley is a natural with the beef empanada.

Order your favorite at the counter.

Batches awaiting the oven.

The bright cafe has a built-in social networking component. Three flat screens are mounted on a wall, each powered by a Mac. One screen has a real-time Twitter feed for those who follow the Mmoon. Another screen features a rotating montage of digital art by local artists. And the last screen pulsates with colorful, abstract images to the beat of music.

Mendez hopes that the  San Jose cafe, which will offer delivery to nearby business offices, will be the first of many Mmoons to come.

The name is a play on the double “M” initials both brothers share, as well as an aside to the “mm” noise we all make when something tastes good.

Don’t worry about stumbling over the name, though. It’s pronounced just like you would the cratered celestial body we only wish was made of cheese.

More: Other Bay Area Empanadas

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Date: Tuesday, 7. September 2010 5:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: General, New Products, Restaurants

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24 comments

  1. 1

    I love empanadas. Sounds like a great concept for a cafe!

  2. 2

    Beautiful! That is a great place.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. 3

    I can’t wait to visit. Sounds like a great addition to San Jose.

  4. 4

    Yum, I rarely eat those and need to do it more often! The dough looks amazing and not too greasy.

  5. 5

    Oh, I wouldn’t mind empanadas being the next cupcake, although I’m more partial to the savory empanadas than the sweets. The empanada dough in Argentina is flakier, I’m guessing, because they use lard! Gulp.

  6. 6

    Those juicy bits of corn filling is making me drool. And it’s not even lunchtime yet. :)

  7. 7

    Haven’t had empanadas for ages…these ones look awesome…

  8. 8

    Nice story. And they look delicious.

  9. 9

    I think that has to be the best looking crust I’ve ever seen! I agree, if something works, why change it? And it looks like that definitely works! :)

  10. 10

    Great review! Those look marvelous…I’d like both sweet and savory. You did a super job with the photos too.

  11. 11

    what a great concept. i’ve always wanted to make a pb&j empanadas.

  12. 12

    Your photos have just made me drool all over the keyboard… I think there’s nothing better than flavoursome ingredients in a sauce encased in a buttery flaky crust. I’m off to find some lunch now cos I’ve become really hungry!

  13. 13

    I would sure love to try those empanadas!

  14. 14

    Those do look very tempting…great post :)

  15. 15

    The pastry is the best part of an empanada. It’s nice to split them open and see all the layers. Yum.

  16. 16

    I’ve never tried empanadas, they look beautiful.

  17. 17

    Mmm as someone afflicated with pastryitis I am absolutely drooling Carolyn! :o

  18. 18

    the look flake-licious and mmm-arvelous!

  19. 19

    can’t wait! i have a date with Mrs. L from pages, pucks and pantry to attend the grand opening on 9/13!

  20. 20

    heavenly. every picture inspires more and more drool, and that’s the truth. :)

  21. 21

    Beautiful photos. They look incredible. I’ll remember this next time I’m in San Jose. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 22

    Here is the kingdom of the empanadas so I can guarantee that they look very tempting :)

    All the best,

    Gera

  23. 23

    Indian samosa, Chinese dumpling, Japanese gyoza, and empanada… there’re various wraps in the world! It’s been long since I ate empanada, so time to find a good one in Tokyo too :)

  24. 24

    I’ll definitely be checking this place out the next time I am in SJ. Looks divine.

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