It’s a beautiful day for lovers of pan-Asian cuisine, housemade noodles and dumplings. That’s because Momo Mee opens to the public at 11 a.m. in the Freshwater Plaza at 110 E. Greenfield Ave.
The restaurant, which we announced in July, is owned and operated by Tony Ho, longtime chef at RuYi at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, with the assistance of longtime colleague and general manager My Ong (Mo) Vang and operations manager Aaron Goldberg.
Walking into the restaurant, guests will find a bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows and sleek modern design augmented by warm beige walls, rustic flooring, tall grey banquettes and warm wooden seating. Decorative wooden panels hung on the walls offer artistic flair.
Seating is also available in the cozy bar, which offers a selection of red and white wines, beer, cider and a curated list of sake, including selections like Kenbishi Kuromatsu Honjozo, Gekkeikan Suzaku (junmai ginjo-shu), Dassai 50 (junmai diaginjo-shu), sparkling yuzu or white peach sake, Gekkeikan (hot sake) and Okunomatsu soju, a premium soju made with Kogane Sengan sweet potatoes.
Cocktails options include the MO Fashioned made with Mars Iwai Japanese Whisky, palm syrup, five spice and orange bitters, a lemongrass margarita, an apricot whiskey sour and lychee martini along with a Manhattan, Hemingway daquiri and the Southside, a cocktail featuring gin, pineapple sake, mint and fresh lime ($11 each).
Slurp, slurp, crunch
Take a seat and you’ll find an evolving menu featuring both familiar, comforting Asian specialties which span countries including China, Japan and India. You’ll also find a number of dishes that are more difficult – if not impossible – to find in Milwaukee.
To start, guests will find appetizers including steamed mussels served in roasted black bean and garlic butter sauce ($13), fresh or fried spring rolls ($6 for two), and samosas filled with potatoes, onions and a mix of herbs and East Indian spices ($8).
Meanwhile, tender Szechuan chicken wings are lightly floured, fried and served dramatically skewered atop a disk of daikon radish with housemade Szechuan cumin spices and scallions ($12).
Take in the menu and you can just imagine the busy hands in the kitchen, deftly shaping the restaurant's selection of momo (dumplings).
Among the choices – many of which reflect classic dim sum offerings – you'll find elegant xiao long bao, Shanghai-style soup dumplings which are delivered to your table piping hot in a steamer alongside a bowl of ginger-laced black vinegar dipping sauce (eight pieces for $12).
Pro tip: If you’ve never eaten xiao long bao before, take care not to burn your mouth. The trick is to deftly move the dumpling (with a chopstick if you’re able) into the accompanying soup spoon. Be gentle, grabbing the dumpling deliberately by the gathered portion at the top and taking care not to rip it open. Once it’s in your spoon, you can gently (gently) prick the top of the dumpling with a fork to allow some of the steam to escape.
Once it cools off just a bit, you should be able to sip the soup right from the top of the dumpling before consuming the remaining skin and meaty interior. If you’d like to eat the dumpling with the accompanying sauce, just add a bit of the sauce to the spoon first and then set the dumpling on top; alternatively, you can drizzle a bit of the sauce onto the emptied dumpling before eating it.
There are also steamed vegetable dumplings wrapped in handcrafted spinach dough and filled with a melange of fried tofu and vegetables ($10); steamed or fried pork potstickers ($8); steamed or pan fried chicken dumplings ($8); pan fried Korean kimchi beef mandu ($8); steamed shao mai with pork and shrimp ($8) and spicy Szechuan wontons featuring ten wontons filled with pork, ginger, onions and Chinese greens ($8).
Meanwhile, Taiwanese gua bao (open-faced steamed buns) will feature fillings like pork belly, Korean beef, five spice pork shoulder, Szechuan chicken or fried tofu and vegetables ($10).
Noodles are one of the stars at Momo Mee, which offers a slew of dishes featuring handcrafted noodles made on site.
Guests will also find soul-filling Szechuan dan dan noodles, a dish for which Chef Ho harbors fond memories, having eaten it regularly from street vendors during his school lunch hour. In this dish, tender noodles are laid atop a sauce made with umami-rich spicy bean paste and chili sesame oil and topped with ground pork laden with mouth-numbing Szechuan peppercorns, fresh cilantro, scallions and cucumbers; guests need to do little more than toss the ingredients together before slurping them down ($12).
Noodles are also showcased in the restaurant’s house ramen which pairs springy housemade ramen noodles with a variety of long-simmering hand-crafted broth, tare and toppings. Options include rich, creamy tonkotsu (pork), shio (chicken), miso or vegetarian shiitake ramen (each priced $13-14).
There’s also yakisoba, featuring housemade ramen noodles stir fried with enoki mushrooms, scallions, bean sprouts, over-easy egg and a choice of proteins (chashu, pork belly, beef, chicken or shrimp $13-16); it’s served with a side of clear dashi broth.
Alternatively, opt for Korean Jjampong, a noodle soup featuring shrimp, scallops and mussels with napa cabbage, shiitakes, green onions and cilantro in a spicy chili broth ($16); or Singapore noodles with shrimp and pork ($14) and Cantonese crispy pan fried noodles with baby bok choy, shiitakes, red bell peppers and a choice of protein (beef, chicken or shrimp ($14-16).
Additional entrees include Szechuan classics like mapo tofu ($12) an Thai gang ped (red curry) with beef, chicken or shrimp ($14-16); Indian chicken masala with paratha bread ($14) Japanese garlic eggplant ($12); sauteed spinach with fried tofu and roasted garlic ($12) and salt and pepper shrimp served with white rice, bell peppers, onions and a generous portion of flavorfully prepared baby bok choy.
Moving forward, Momo Mee will also add a menu of sushi selections, with an emphasis on nigiri and sashimi.
Beginning Dec. 12, Mo Mo Mee will be open for lunch service Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers dinner Monday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.