Street food the world over is finally getting the recognition it so richly deserves. Globalisation, economic transformation and immigration have allowed dishes that would ordinarily be confined to one particular class of people to transcend these societal barriers and geographical borders. In 2016 Singapore based Chef, Chan Hon Meng, became the first street food vendor in the world to receive a Michelin star. In South Africa street food is becoming a common place item on the menus of restaurants.
One of the latest must-have dining experiences in Johannesburg includes Asian street food. MoMo Baohaus and MoMo Soko belongs to siblings Tim and Lawrence Lai. Perfectly executed dishes are tantalising the taste buds of Johannesburg’s foodies and hipsters alike. The philosophy behind the MoMo brand is: “Taste; Choice; Value.” This translates into a customisable menu, featuring fresh, quality ingredients, which come together to deliver the best of Asian flavours, all at a reasonable price. Diners seem to agree, if you consider the popularity of the brand, which only came to be in 2016.
The Lai brothers opened MoMo Baohaus in Greenside, last year, offering “buns, bowls and sushi rolls.” As the name suggests the main attraction is the BAO. If you have yet to try one, a BAO is a steamed bun, filled with all kinds of goodness. It’s a popular street food originating from Taiwan. In the hands of the “BAO” masters, the Lai brothers have taken this very humble dish and elevated it. Soft, fluffy, slightly sweet – these buns are the perfect vessels to carry the filling of your choice. My favourite is the deep sea BAO which is made up of tempura prawn bathed in hoisin, mayo, sriracha, coriander, spring onion, pickled ginger and toasted sesame seeds. The flavour combination makes your taste buds come alive. There’s the heat from the sriracha, tempered by the sweet of the prawn meat, while the coriander adds freshness and the roasted sesame, gives crunch and nuttiness. Other BAO must haves are the Chairman (lamb), Colonel (chicken) and Baohaus (beef). Off course there are vegetarian options too.
From the tapas selection I have found these dishes irresistible: salmon ceviche taco, Szechuan prawn wanton, firecracker prawn, crispy calamari, crispy tofu and the nori dusted fries. I must confess, I have never tried the bowls or the sushi. The tapas offering and the BAOs are far too delicious to not have them, every single visit!
More of the same deliciousness can be found at this recently opened restaurant in Illovo. The difference here is the sushi has made way for skewers. Meat, chicken and veg options are available. The skewer to have is the Montblanc, which is grilled shiitake mushrooms, with miso butter, teriyaki, sesame and spring onions. Think, bold, butch flavours. Shiitake has a meaty taste, grilled with the miso and teriyaki, adds more depth of flavour. If you love mushrooms this dish is for you.
Another food trend that graces the menu is Poke bowls. Originally these bowls consisted of seasoned pieces of raw reef fish served with seaweed and nuts, later cooked rice was added in. The dish which originates from Hawaii, continues to evolve.
From the tapas menu, the firecracker chicken is outstanding. Crispy on the outside, tender chicken on the inside. The twice cooked beef ribs have a wonderful flavour but seemed rather dull in comparison due to the liveliness of the chicken.
The décor at these restaurants is trendy yet unpretentious. The vibe relaxed and fun. The service can be a little slow but when the food experience is this amazing a little bit of patience never killed anyone.
For those lucky enough UberEats delivers from these restaurants. Unfortunately I am just outside the delivery area. The food is so delicious, it’s certainly worth considering moving:)
The MoMo brand with the addition of a second restaurant is clearly a runaway success and for good reason, as it certainly provides customers with: “Taste; Choice; Value.” The Lai brothers, through their experimental yet respectful take on Asian cuisine are helping take the local food scene in an exciting new direction.
Things to Note:
Both restaurants are halaal.
A good selection of vegetarian options are available.
Neither venues have a liquor license, diners can bring their own tipple.
Bookings are essential, as both restaurants are extremely popular.
Address: 139 Greenway, Greenside, Randburg, 2034 / Tel: 010 900 4889
Address: 198 Oxford Rd, Illovo, Sandton, 2196 / Tel: 011 268 6182