Momokawa – Unappreciated Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki
I previously wrote a post about Shabu Tatsu asking why shabu shabu is so difficult to find in NY? Since then I’ve been on a kick to go find it in Manhattan, so besides Shabu Tatsu, the other place that is known for it is Momokawa.
Momokawa is oddly located just off Curry Hill in a weird unmarked building where you have to go downstairs into a basement and then back upstairs into the small dining room which is above the street level. It used to be an all you can eat Japanese yakiniku place, but that place burned down and Momokawa opened up in its place.
Momokawa specializes in shabu shabu and sukiyaki much like Shabu Tatsu, but you will find a wider array of other mainly appetizer type dishes here as well.
The restaurant is tiny with enough space to probably fit about 20 people. The service is generally decent and everyone has been nice when I’ve been there. The crowd is mainly Japanese with random others thrown in as well.
Here’s what we got:
Homemade Tofu: This was nice clean tasting homemade tofu, nothing revolutionary, but solidly good. It tasted good with soy sauce and diced green onions. 7.75/10
Satsuma Age (Homemade Fish Cake): I really like homemade fish cake versus commercially made fish cake, the taste and texture is so much better. The version here is excellent. It’s got a soft, but slightly spongy texture and the fish cake is slightly sweet and having salty soy sauce compliments it really well. 8.5/10
Simmered Kabocha Squash: Japanese kabocha (winter squash) is awesome when made right. It’s usually steamed and then put in a light soy sauce. The kabocha should be soft and slightly sweet and the light soy sauce pairs with it perfectly. It’s simple, but for some reason most people can’t get it right. The version here was decent, but not excellent. It wasn’t quite soft enough and I’d prefer if they provided a little more sauce for flavor. 7.25/10
Edamame: Typical edamame, but they were cooked correctly and not overly salty. 8/10
Ginger Pork Rice Bowl: This was simple sautéed pork in a slightly sweet ginger sauce with diced green onions on top of rice. The pork was cooked well and the sauce was decent. I thought it was pretty decent although not amazing. 7.25/10
Miso Soup: Normal miso soup, nothing too different about it, but still tasty. 7.5/10
Pickled Cabbage: They gave pickled cabbage on the side, it was a salty pickle. It was pretty decent. 7.5/10
Gindara Saikyo (Miso Marinated Black Cod): I always like miso marinated black cod. The cod is tender and buttery and the slightly sweet miso paste compliments it nicely. The version here was cooked nicely. 8/10
Berkshire Pork Sukiyaki: Sukiyaki is a dish consisting of thinly sliced beef or pork which is slowly simmered with vegetables, tofu and glass noodles in a casserole in sauce / broth made up of soy sauce, sugar and mirin. The version in restaurants is a bit different than what I grew up at home eating. At home you put everything in the casserole and then eat it. However, in restaurants they put oil in a shallow skillet where you cook the raw meat and other ingredients in and then dip the meat in raw egg. They don’t put nearly as much sauce / broth in and I’d consider it more of a sauce as it’s more concentrated. While I like the version at home better, this is still very tasty and I’d recommend trying it. 8.25/10
Beef Shabu-Shabu: The version here basically tasted exactly the same as Shabu Tatsu, so I’m not going to re-write the whole thing, but you can read it here. (sesame sauce 7/10, ponzu sauce 8.25/10, vegetables and noodles 8/10, beef 8.25/10)
Overall, I think this is a pretty good and definitely underappreciated.
157 E 28th St (between Lexington Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10016
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