The Japanese word ‘Okawari’ springs to mind when you think of the new MoMo Soko, simply meaning ‘more food please’. Asian culture is deeply rooted in respect, bringing one’s palms together expresses deep sincerity and gratitude, and this simple gesture summarises the culture of the MoMo brand. The duo responsible for dreaming up MoMo, are inspired by Asian street food and their mother’s cooking.
When it comes to silky noodles with the perfect mouthfeel or beautifully balanced Umami flavours, the team at They’re Wonted can’t get enough. Not much makes us happier than seeing our city catch up to her hipper destination rivals. We’re tireless ‘Jozi-philes’ and are prone to losing whole afternoons to debating our city’s merits and what’s still lacking. (Not much, but would the very talented team behind MoMo’s, consider a Ramen Bar for us as well please)
In another bold contribution towards Joburg’s food scene, the brothers from MoMo Bauhaus in leafy Greenside have done it again. This time setting up shop in Illovo, nestled between ‘eighty-six public’ and ‘Hogg’s Head’, a sort of Asian fusion oasis, offering small porcelain cups of tea and steamer baskets holding toothsome treats.
The quality of ingredients is exceptional at both MoMo branches and is what sets these fusion eateries apart from their congealed, MSG-laden, toxic pink sauce, greasy comrades. One gets the sense that there’s a quiet distinguished confidence at MoMo Soko, a Japanese influenced serenity. Momo Baohuas although the original, feels like the slightly cheeky younger sibling to this elegant branch. MoMo Soko inspires one to drink tea with your meal not after, and perhaps stray from your flavour comfort zone.
With many of their classic Bao’s & Bowls making it onto the new MoMo Soko menu, the addition of bamboo skewers and the absence of sushi is what makes it a little different. A direct translation of ‘Soko’ from Japanese to English is ‘that place’ or ‘there’ which is fitting because you want to be there.
The ‘yakitori-esque’ skewers are available in sirloin, lamb, chicken, prawn or tofu and are marinated in and laced with a dizzying array of flavours from Teriyaki to Miso Butter and scattered with scallions, sesame seeds and crushed peanuts. A fun addition to their Asian tapas selection., the skewers pair nicely with starter classics like Korean Fried Chicken Wings and Smokey Wokked Green Beans with Dried Chilli. A word to the wise, the skewers make it nearly impossible to order anything else, there will be huge temptation to hit repeat, but explore we must!
When in indulging in MoMo, one simply cannot leave out the Colonel Bao. An X-rated version of Buzzard, deep fried and smothered in pickled ginger and scallions and folded into a Bao bun. Light potstickers filled taught with beef and pickled shitake, dipped into plum sauce and dark soy, also deserve a place on the table at every visit
There is in no way a feeling of dilution with the expansion of this brand. When Tim & Lawrence let us know that they were expanding, we wanted to jump for joy. While we took precautions and upped our gym contracts, having them within an ‘Uber Eats’ radius is dangerous! We held our collective breath and prayed to the noodle gods that the essence of 0ur beloved Baohaus wouldn’t change.
We’re not sure how these brothers do it, but MoMo Soko has the same generosity and spirit running through it. The portions are the same, their mum’s kimchi as delicious and the flavours bright. The space is comforting and full of subtle changes that let you know to expect a slightly different but familiar experience.
MoMo is humility and community, you won’t find silver service here but you’d be hard-pressed to find better value for money and more friendly people.
Tim, Lawrence and the team, thank you for taking a leap and doubling Joburg’s MoMo joy, we know you’re going to continue to be a huge success and that’s why we ate at MoMo Soko twice in one day (for research purposes), just getting our fill before we’re happily jostling in the queue.
MoMo Soko is not licensed, but you are encouraged to bring your own wine and there is no corkage fee. It is undergoing a soft opening at the moment, there isn’t much online about the space. Booking is recommended none the less, call their Greenside store on 010 900 4889 for more information. It took a fair amount of ‘selflessness’ to share this little spot of sunshine with you all … .Itadakimasu.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DILLON DU PLESSIS