In the two-ish months since Mogi Bagel got its start, the Instagram-based bagel shop has earned some pretty big-name fans. "In this past month, really, it's kind of exploded," laughs Megan Berray-Larsen, the bagel mastermind behind Mogi.
“Mogi Bagel is a game changer when it comes to the world of bagels in the Twin Cities," says Yia Vang, the James Beard Award-nominated chef behind Union Hmong Kitchen and Slurp Pop Up Noodle Shop. "Megan has such a creative mind when thinking through bagel flavors that work."
Berray-Larsen is a graphic designer by day (she also designed Mogi's labels) who's always loved food and cooking and baking. And she's always loved bagels, too, which she and her husband Nick pick up every weekend.
In October, she thought to herself as she enjoyed one such bagel: "There are not enough bagel shops in Minneapolis. I should open a bagel shop. I should make bagels," Berray-Larsen says. "No matter that I had never made bagels before."
She told her sisters about her bagel-making plan, and they instantly responded with her nickname: "Mogi Bagel!" It stuck, and the rest is history.
OK, so it wasn't that easy. Berray-Larsen started working on the recipe—"so much trial and error"—to perfect her take on an authentic New York bagel. Making good ones requires specialty ingredients like high-gluten flour (the switch to this was her biggest a-ha moment), along with malt powder and malt syrup.
The winning recipe? A fine-tuned mix of high gluten flour, yeast, salt, and malt, shaped and cold proofed in the fridge overnight. "When they’re puffy and beautiful, they’re boiled in a water and malt bath, then baked," Berray-Larsen says. By the end of December, she thought the bagels were ready.
Along with classic bagel-shop offerings—everything, plain, onion, sesame, salt, poppyseed, and garlic—Mogi Bagel also sells specialty bagels like cacio e pepe (Vang's favorite), pesto, honey rosemary, blueberry, and sun-dried tomato and oregano. They're all available for order on Instagram at $9 for a half-dozen, and available for pickup in Richfield or by delivery for a few extra bucks.
Mogi Bagel still feels like a well-kept secret for now, but as the secret spreads like wildfire through the Twin Cities culinary community, it seems unlikely it'll stay quiet long. When we sat down over chocolate rye bagels—her current flavor of the month—this week, the owner of The Bungalow Club had just stopped by to pick up some bagels.
"He was like, 'We'll see if our kitchen family can compete with Union Hmong Kitchen,'" Berray-Larsen chuckles. "I was like... 'I hope you like them.' Oh my god! I'm so worried that someone's gonna come back and be like, 'These aren't real New York bagels.'"
The fact that it's moving so quickly is proof that the bagels are good—and proof, to Berray-Larsen's earlier point, that there just aren't enough good bagel shops in the area. Her doughy endeavor took off so fast that she doesn't even have a good estimate of how many she makes in an average week: "It's hard to say, because it's gone up and up and up."
Berray-Larsen plans to sell Mogi Bagels at farmer's markets and pop-ups, eventually going the Marty's Deli route and using that experience as a springboard to open a coffee and bagel shop. She's busy dreaming up new creative flavors—a French onion bagel with caramelized onions and cheese, perhaps—and she might try to branch into different kinds of flavored cream cheese.
But for now, she's just enjoying her surprise success.
"I did not see it coming," she says. "When I sold my first one to somebody I didn't know I was like, 'Oh my god, my first stranger's coming over!' And now, like, a lot of them are strangers."