Feasting at Mo Mo Paradise
The long wait for Mo Mo Paradise to open up in Rowland Heights is finally over. Jean has been raving about this Japanese Shabu Shabu chain that is popular in Taiwan that has now made it's way to Rowland Heights. The restaurant is in the corner of a small shopping plaza on Colima near Azusa Ave., across the street from Half and Half and Zero Degrees. Since they just recently opened, the wait times for standby diners is pretty long. Luckily, they take reservations every day except for dinner time on Friday and Saturday. Jean, Mike, Alice, and I made reservations for 1 PM on Saturday to try it out (as a side note, the hostess would not take a reservation for 12:30 PM. It's a bit odd since they open at 11 AM and give diners 90 minutes for AYCE). Because we came at an off hour with reservations, we did not need to wait long.
Mo Mo Paradise offers a weekday lunch price ($17.95) and then a weekend lunch and dinner price ($27.95). The weekday lunch comes with 2 plates of meat (beef and pork) and AYCE for the farmers market items, drink bar, and ice cream. The weekend lunch and dinner comes with AYCE for everything. They had 3 types of meat the day we went; pork belly, fatty beef belly, and thin beef belly. They typically bring out 6 slices of each meat that you order, so you will be ordering meat quite repeatedly. Once seated, they will ask you what soup base you want. If you want to use the split pot, they will charge an extra $2 / person. We ended up choosing the split pot because we wanted to try a couple of their soup bases. They have shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, kimchi, and shio-tonkotsu soup bases. They are well-known for their sukiyaki base so we tried that one. For our second choice, we opted for the shio-tonkotsu as a contrast to the sweet flavoring of the sukiyaki.
The "Farmers Market" is a self-serve sauce, veggies, noodles, fish balls, and beef curry rice bar. It's quite extensive and they continuously refill the items, so you'll be able to pig out. Their "Drink Garden" consists of a Stubborn Soda, matcha milk tea, unsweetened tea, and daily sweetened tea dispensing machines. They also provide boba (surprisingly tasty, chewy, and fresh. Comparable to Half and Half's boba), red bean, coffee grass jelly, and coconut meat for the drinks. I believe they change their premium ice cream flavors from time to time, but the flavors we had that day were vanilla, black cherry, and rocky road.
The service was great. Our waitress spent a good amount of time explaining what to do with all of the sauces and the raw eggs that came out. For the raw eggs, you're apparently supposed to cook the meat in the sukiyaki sauce and then dip the cooked meat in the raw egg mixture for flavor. It was quite delicious. Mo Mo gives you sesame sauce, ponzu sauce, and if you order sukiyaki, 2 separate containers of additional sukiyaki sauce and water that you can add to your pot to change the consistency and strength of the sauce. The only hiccup in the entire day was that their refrigerator had broken so they were constantly running short on meat because the slicer couldn't keep up with the demand. Our waitress kept apologizing to us about the hold up but she rushed to get as much out to us as possible. Towards the end of the meal, they will ask you if you want ramen or udon for your soup bases. We skipped both because we were just too full, but we will keep it in mind for future visits.
Overall, the only drawback for Mo Mo is the price. At $30+ per person, it did feel a bit pricey unless you can really put back a lot of their meat. The food quality was great. The meat was very thinly sliced and cooked very quickly. The farmers market items were all very fresh, plentiful, and tasty. The sauce bar was awesome and most of the sauces they provide are must tries. The drink bar was also pretty extensive (surprising for a shabu restaurant to me) with a lot of variety to suit everyone's tastes. A big highlight for me (and I'm sure I'll be criticized for eating so much of this when there's so much meat to be had) was their beef curry rice. The curry was very flavorful and had large chunks of beef inside. I must have had 2 huge bowls of their rice, which really hindered my appetite for everything else. I almost wish they offered an AYCE curry rice bowl option at a discounted price.
I'd highly recommend this place to anyone who has a hankering for some shabu and curry rice!
Mo Mo Paradise
Sesame, Shichimi, Ginger Sauce, Pickled Ginger, Fukujinzuke, Taberu Rayu. Not shown on the left were 2 large bowls of sliced green onions and spicy grated radish. I'd highly recommend eating the taberu rayu and the spicy grated radish. I think I may have eaten a bowl's worth of the taberu rayu.
Stubborn Soda machine. They had Kola, Black Cherry with Tarragon, Agave Vanilla Cream Soda, Lemon Berry Acai, Root Beer, Clementine IZZE twiZt flavors. The Vanilla Creme soda was pretty tasty. Mike really enjoyed the Lemon Berry Acai flavor.
Jasmine Passion Fruit Tea and Matcha Milk Tea. Both drinks were good. They had a tray of coffee jelly, coconut meat, and red beans for the drinks. They also had a heated container of honey boba. The boba was chewy, fresh, and was at a good sweetness. Surprising to see such good quality boba for a self-serve, AYCE restaurant.
Left: Shio-Tonkotsu ("A rich broth made with pork bone, aromatic vegetables, and savory roasted garlic. Added to the broth is our in-house fried onion and garlic chili oil. Enjoy with Mo-Mo-Paradise's original Ponzu and Gomadare"). Right: Sukiyaki ("Our Sukiyaki is a sweet and savory soy-based broth. Enjoy by dipping in our pasteurized free-range eggs."). The sukiyaki was a bit sweet for my taste so I'd probably add more water next time. Overall, I prefered the tonkotsu soup base as it kept more of the meat's flavor. The sukiyaki was like eating candied meat. Granted, I have nothing against candied meat.
Bottom: Spicy grated radish. Top: Taberu Rayu. After this picture, I probably grabbed 2 or 3 more sauce plates full of just the taberu rayu. It was spectacularly good. My best guess as to what's inside is a bunch of fried garlic and onions, chilies, oil, sugar, and salt. I could eat the sauce by itself as a meal.
Fatty beef belly. This cooked extremely fast (think Pho) and was awesome. Because it cooked so quickly and how easy it was to eat this, the restaurant really couldn't keep up with the demand.
Farmers Market: Napa cabbage, bok choi, carrot, potato, kabocha, king oyster mushroom, enoki mushroom, bell pepper, nira chive, bean sprout, tomato, daikon, gobu, tofu, shirataki, pho noodle, ramen noodle, udon noodle, fish balls.
Beef curry rice. Uhh, yea, if you eat this, you will not stop and you will ruin the rest of the shabu shabu. You have been warned. I'd also highly suggest ignoring this warning as it was delicious.
Pasteurized free-range egg for dipping the sukiyaki flavored meat.
Black cherry ice cream. It was pretty standard fare black cherry ice cream. Nothing to write home about but still a good end to a delicious meal.
Rocky road ice cream. Pretty standard.