If you’re a person who likes to be the first of your friends to discover a new restaurant, then psssst – MoMa Bistro in Richmond has only been open for ten days!
Owners Xin Mao and Henry Mok took over the space from Cucina Toscana, and have completely transformed it. It’s now bright and contemporary, with candle-filled mason jars and cutlery tied with twine.
Mao and Mok, two ambitious young chefs who went to culinary school together and have since spent time in the kitchens of the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Emsemble, Cin Cin, and Cioppino. They call their food “contemporary West Coast,” with French, Italian, and Asian influences, and combined their last names, Mok and Mao, to name the place. It’s impressive and inspiring to see this kind of ambition, and I’m happy to say that they make really good food.
I started with a refreshing little amuse bouche – a chilled ginger and carrot soup with basil oil.
Then it was onto official appetizers: I had the beet, arugula, feta, and hazelnut salad with raspberry dressing. The red and golden beets had a spiced flavour to them – I could especially taste fennel – and the peppery arugula was perfectly dressed. This was a nice way to start.
Next I tried the prawn fritters, which were finished with toasted sesame and seaweed, and came with a mildly spicy togarashi aioli. They were rich, crunchy, the prawns were juicy, and I liked the earthy dusting of seaweed.
The pork belly, one of their signatures, was next. I’m picky when it comes to eating chunks of pork belly, because far too often the fatty bits have to be gnawed through. Fortunately, MoMa served me a piece that was crispy on the outside, with layers of tender meat and soft, butter-like fat streaked through the inside. Bravo!
It was served with coarsely-mashed peas, pickled radish, jus, and chili oil. My one complaint is that the peas (or were they edamame..?) weren’t salty enough. Otherwise, I liked the kick from the chili oil and was ALL OVER that pork belly.
I also tried their special yesterday – sous-vide rack of lamb with taro root puree, a savoury mix of mushrooms and edamame beans, and a sprinkling of a Chinese spice mixture. Lamb is not something I typically order, but this was crazy tender and delicious. I also loved the warmly-spiced seasoning, and it was interesting to see lamb paired with taro.
Fully meat-ed out, I moved onto dessert. I had a matcha crepe filled with red bean cream, served with crispy bread crumbs, compressed pineapple, vanilla ice cream, and strawberry sauce.
My favourite parts of this dessert were the various garnishes– the bread crumbs, strawberry sauce, and pineapple all had more presence than the matcha crepe. It was okay, but didn’t particularly thrill me.
Overall, however, my meal at MoMa was an excellent one. This is a style of food that speaks to Richmond’s mix of culinary styles, ambitious next wave of chefs, and general appreciation of pork belly.
Thanks to everyone at MoMa for the great meal, I commend you for using Ocean Wise products on your menu, and I wish you the best of luck!
Cash and cards accepted
Some vegetarian options available, though menu is fairly meat-heavy
I asked if I could have a tasting menu, but prices for appetizers range from $11-$15, entrees from $19-$33, and dessert from $7-$8