It's usually hard for me to convince Bryan to go out for Korean food. He's been to Korea a few times and has tried all sorts of different types of business dinners there. At the end of the day, he tells me he just really isn't into the flavors as much.
"Too sweet" is his general reply.
So I was mildly surprised when he agreed to try out Momojein, a modern Korean restaurant in Wan Chai that was recommended by the Michelin guide.
Momojein opened in 2015 with an all-Korean staff under the guidance of a Korean TV celebrity chef Lim Heewon. The idea was to present Korean food in a modern way, by elevating it with more upscale or creative ingredients, or presenting traditional flavors in new forms.
Their most recent menu talks about how after exploring creative flavors at the beginning of their time here, they are now going back to some of the more traditional flavors.
Accordingly, the menu seems to be a mix of some slightly more creative dishes as well as some classics. We tried to order a mix of both.
One of the most interesting and unusual dishes on the menu was also one that our server recommended: the Asparagus ($120 HKD), which consisted of a row of lightly cooked asparagus topped with tofu cream cheese, white chocolate, myungran (Korean spicy mayo), crunchy Korean dried anchovies, and truffle oil served on a wooden board (sorry for the bad photo!).
Honestly, it was OK but I didn't love it. I was a bit confused by the odd combination of flavors and I wasn't sure if I found them to really complement each other in a meaningful way.
On the other hand, the Endive Ssam was quite good. Traditional Korean ssam involves typically wrapping loose lettuce leaves around marinated grilled meats. On this menu, we could use between pork neck, bulgogi (beef), or shrimp.
We went with the Bulgogi Endive Ssam ($76 for two) which was made using sirloin beef marinated in teriyaki sauce, Korean pear, rice noodles, and coriander. The flavors were good, and using endive was a nicer, more elegant way of eating ssam without getting our hands dirty. The flavors were familiar and relatively traditional.
On this menu, Bryan only had one request: he really wanted to try the Sea Urchin Rice ($180 HKD), a rice dish made in a hot stone bowl using chorizo oil infused Korean leafy vegetables and Hokkaido uni.
Though the portion size was decent, the amount of uni was not sufficient to provide enough flavor for the entire dish. We felt like the rest of the dish over-powered the small amount of uni that was present.
Furthermore, Bryan was disappointed that use of the hot stone bowl did not result in the characteristic crispy rice that you get at the bottom of a stone bowl bi bim bop (the best part!). Perhaps the stone bowl was only used for decoration, but it unnecessarily brought his hopes up.
I'm a sucker for Korean pancakes, and I love the kinds made with kim chi. They have it on the menu, but unfortunately that day it was not available. Instead, they told us we could order the scallion seafood pancake ($128 HKD).
The scallion seafood pancake was excellent, with nicely charred edges and great flavor. I'm sure the kim chi would have been really good too. This dish is definitely very traditional, and they did it well.
We asked our server if we had ordered enough food, and she suggested maybe ending with a soup. We chose the Beef and Radish soup ($83 HKD), a simple, light, yet flavorful soup filled with beef rib, ginseng, radish, and clear sweet potato noodles. I very much enjoyed this dish, and it felt healthy and nourishing.
General Impressions - Momojein Hong Kong
All in all, Momojein is a pleasant place to dine. The ambiance is modern and warm, the noise level is not very high, and the service is good. The chef uses fresh ingredients and doesn't use MSG, so in general the food feels healthy.
For us, the food was solid but didn't really blow us away. I personally enjoyed the scallion seafood pancake and the beef and radish soup the most, both of which are more traditional dishes. I think it may be hit or miss with the more creative ones, which sometimes work and sometimes don't work.
All in all, I think you can have a fine meal here. If I'm ever in the mood for Korean again (or more importantly, if I can convince Bryan to try Korean again), I wouldn't be opposed to coming back here to try some more of the many dishes on their menu.
Momojein Hong Kong
23/F, QRE Plaza 202 Queen's Road East
Wan Chai, HONG KONG