Couple and business partners Pandora Pan and line cook Chris Zhou’s new “contemporary Japanese-fusion style restaurant” Momo San offers signature aburi (flame-torched) oshi (hand-pressed sushi) alongside crafted cocktails, brews and of course, sake.
“It’s not traditional Japanese, but more original,” says Pan, citing artistic, French-style plating and non-Japanese ingredients – beer batter for aburi fritter, pork belly and other ingredients often used in Korean and Chinese cooking – as part of what makes the food different.
Zhou, a former computer science engineer, always dreamed of working as a chef. This is his first venture. Two sushi chefs – including T.J. who worked in Las Vegas – make all of the aburi, sushi and sashimi up front.
Pricing might be a bit more than say Annex sushi spots, but that’s because they’re using the most expensive rice (Moonlight), high-quality seafood and wild sockeye salmon for oshi, Pan says.
General Manager Jordan Kerr created the bar menu and comes up with the original cocktails. “I like to play with different flavours, presentation, and incorporate different cuisines into the drinks,” he says.
The list includes sake-based cocktails, the Momo Sour (made with plum wine, and a host of sakes, including Dassai 23 ($335/btl) and its smaller sibling Dassai 30.
Fixtures & Fittings
“The brick is the only thing left,” Pan says.
The room got a modern update, complete with sushi bar, tatami booths, mirrored ceiling and lights. Designer Sai He designed most of the futuristic elements, including the white tube ring lighting.
Off the Menu
Flaming Absinthe Sour
Dinner and a show. A blend of absinthe, citrus and cinnamon excites the senses.
Momo Tart ($15)
Gigantic aburi sushi (think burger patty size) is layered like a cake with sushi rice base, spicy salmon, thick slices of avocado, more sushi rice, torched salmon, topped with tuna sashimi, shrimp, deep pile of flying fish roe, and lemon slice. You’re going to need a spoon or knife and fork to cut through all the rows. What fun.
Unagi Oshi Kushi ($30)
A rich, decadent delight of six salmon oshi sushi (salmon, Momo sauce made with egg york, sweet soy, black pepper and jalapeno) topped with aburi eel.
MomoSan Signature Plate ($28)
A platter of Momo San signature aburi sushi and aburi oshi, 12 pieces in total, features an array of buttery, sweet oshi – salmon topped with jalapeno, ahi (tuna) and saba (mackerel). Aburi sushi of wild sockeye salmon, hamachi (yellowtail tuna), shrimp, red tuna and salmon round out the dish.
Sashimi Sampler ($30)
A modernist plating of 12 pieces of chef’s selection of fresh sashimi. Today’s selection: salmon, scallop, and red tuna.
Soba Peperoncino ($18)
Japanese buckwheat noodles are tossed with umumi rich oigatsuo tsuyu (bonito flavoured soup base), then encircled with a variety of seafood (mussels, squid, prawns, clam and scallop), vegetables (arugula, shiitake and sliced grape tomato) and tempura bits.
Aburi Soy Braised Pork Belly ($18)
Slow braised for roughly four hours, thick tender pork belly slices are dressed moromi maple glaze, and served with halved new potatoes and Brussels sprouts, garnished with scallions and radish.
The dining room accommodates 40 guests inside, with room for 60 on the patio.
At the Stove: Chris Zhou
Head Honchos: Pandora Pan and Chris Zhou
FOH: General Manager Jordan Kerr
Map it: 26 Baldwin St. (in Baldwin Village)
Monday to Friday: 11:30 am – 10:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Phone it in: 416-901-8892
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