Five words that first come to mind after the Momo Baohaus experience are: fresh and full of flavour. The recently opened restaurant specialises in tapas, buns, bowls and sushi rolls – a much-needed addition to offer authentic Asian food in northern Johannesburg.
Where to start? The beginning… and work your way through each subcategory. Go with as many friends as possible so that you can taste more than you’re able to order with dignity intact. The starter champion can be found at the top of the bao section, rightfully called The Chairman, filled with pulled lamb, hoisin, pickled shiitake, spring onion, coriander, toasted sesame, crushed peanuts, fried onion, cucumber and micro greens, neatly housed inside the freshest steamed bun. The Baohaus is also a winner, with teriyaki beef as an alternative, and for vegetarians, The Greenway, with braised or crispy tofu, garlic soy sauce, sriracha and all aforementioned goodies.
Moving along to tapas, order the perfectly crispy prawn spring rolls – because you can’t not – along with delicately flavoured beef and pickled shiitake pot stickers, and the potentially life changing spicy salmon ceviche taco. For the particularly health-conscious, there’s always the crunchy Asian slaw.
If you treated your tapas as starters and have room for mains, the bowls are everything and more. Choose your base of jasmine rice, wokked noodles or wokked greens, then opt for Szechuan if you can handle the heat – a steaming, saucy bowl of chicken, beef or tofu, ramen egg, cashew, red pepper, peppercorn oil, slaw and greens. For a less saucy option, Yaki Soba is a simple, tasty mix of prawn, chicken and noodles that you’ll find under Momo’s speciality bowls. Vegetarians can take delight in kimchi fried rice with a soft fried egg, spring onion and pickled radish, or the long list of Momo speciality sushi rolls. Absolutely delicious!
They’re working on getting a licence, so for now options are limited to non-alcoholic beverages including sodas, coconut milk, cordials and Turkish delight lemonade. The bottom of the drinks menu lets you know that you’re welcome to bring your own tipple at no charge.
They could do with a few more waitrons. Even though the small space smacks of hipsterism – wooden interiors, black and grey finishes with only occasional colour, clean lines – it’s jam-packed over weekends, so be prepared to wait a little longer than usual for food orders to arrive. But it’s worth the wait. If you haven’t made a booking, which you should do to avoid disappointment, you can plonk yourself at the bar counter that’s comfortable enough for your meal. You’ll be right under the barman’s nose and it’s probably your best bet for getting the fastest service.
Cosy, informal and intimate.
Torn between the sweetmilk and the salted-caramel dip for your dessert bun? Sweetmilk wins.
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