Do you ever get the urge to hop in your car and drive somewhere slightly far away for dinner? I don't know if it is just me, but I often do, usually in the guise of having a food adventure. And my usual companions for madcap adventures are Queen Viv and Miss America.
I came across Momiji during a Burwood suburb tour run by Wee Lynn Teo, a knowledgeable Burwood local and smitten by their fantastic ramen soup, suggested it as a place to dine. We were originally headed out west to a new restaurant but the fact that they didn't take booking and it was getting late meant that we sought closer options. Momiji take bookings (hooray!) and we are on our way to Burwood.
Wee Lynn had told me that the couple that run Momiji (which means maple leaf which are present on the outside signage) are from Hiroshima. Mitsu Shimooka runs the floor while her husband Koji runs the kitchen. They turn out bowlful after bowful of steaming, hot ramen or enormous bento boxes. Hiroshima syokudo is written on the outside and a syokudo or shokudo means dining hall, dining room or restaurant. It's not fancy but it's clean and pleasant in its simplicity and service is that wonderful Japanese type of service where nothing is too much trouble. Some of the menu items are not available (alas, I was interested in trying the Hiroshima okonomiyaki but that isn't available anymore) so we pick and choose. Miss America just wants soft shell crab and the rest of us want pretty much everything!
Seaweed salad $5
The prices are amazingly reasonable here and I didn't expect a lot for a $5 seaweed salad but this has a layer of iceberg dressing with a wafu Japanese dressing and a generous amount of creamy, spicy seaweed on top.
Spicy miso ramen $9.80
The menu starts with their ramen. I had tried the miso ramen on the food tour and was in raptures over the thick, flavoursome broth. It takes 10 hours to make this broth made up of pork bones and fish heads to give it that thick, aromatic flavour. The fish heads add so much to the broth and stops it from becoming overly porky which can be overwhelming. The scarlet topped spicy miso ramen has a deep, full chilli flavour (too much for Queen Viv who doesn't like chilli) but the thick but not gloopy broth goes so well with the corn, thin slices of pork and seaweed and a chilli sesame paste.
Prawn tempura ramen $12.80
The prawn tempura ramen came with two large prawns, still crunchy and rich with half a boiled egg, shallots, seaweed and three types of chilli powder which we could add as we saw fit. This was a shoyu based ramen soup rather than miso. Some preferred this one but I must admit that the complexity of the miso soup base was my favourite of the two.
Soft shell crab $11.80
Queen Viv and Miss America loved the soft, crunchy soft shell crab which came in large pieces, made for crunching. I also really liked the salad underneath it which was made up of flavoursome shiitake mushrooms and lettuce.
Teriyaki beef don $10.80
With the fragrance of ginger, the teriyaki beef don comes on a bed or rice with paper thin ribbons of sliced beef on top. A side bowl of miso soup comes with it. Whilst it's good, I have to go with Wee Lynn's recommendations of the ramen and hand rolls below.
The other item that Momiji are known for are their hand rolls. Sometimes, I find hand rolls just too full of rice and just overwhelmingly dry. These are different. For starters they're an absolute bargain at $2.50 each with one at $3 but it wouldn't matter if they were double or triple that because they have the flavours and texture just right.
We tried the teriyaki chicken, fresh prawn, deep fried chicken and spicy tuna & avocado roll and it was a scene of everyone nodding and moaning about how good these were. Each roll had a distinct flavour to it with an excellent balance of ingredients and not a single mouthful was dry or full of just rice.
Bento box $14.80
On another visit, we tried some of the same things but added in a bento box just for good measure. The chicken karaage bento box came with a good amount of crunchy deep fried chicken pieces along with a shaker of salt and pepper seasoning and mayonnaise. There was also three pieces of tempura vegetables, seaweed salad, rice, miso soup and a whole orange sliced up.
There's no dessert but that's fine and the bill comes as a very pleasant surprise. I've got this section called "Cheap thrills $20 and under" and I haven't been able to add anything in that section for ages. For the prize of being stuffed full, the bill totals a fantastic $60.70 for four people!
So tell me Dear Reader, are you ever struck by the urge to go on far away food adventures? And can you ever finish a whole bowl of ramen?
Mo Mi Ji
96a Burwood Road, Burwood, Burwood 2134
Tel: +61 9744 2977