This article originally appeared in the October 2015 Issue: Craving Comfort. Read it here!
The lowdown: From K-pop to cosmetics to Korean cuisine, South Korea’s cultural allure is tantalising and ever-growing. Korean food has especially skyrocketed into the spotlight of the local food scene in recent years. Korean TV shows are also proven to be a runaway success in Hong Kong. You may wonder where we are going with this but you’ve probably guessed, take both Korean cuisine and Korean stardom and combine them for a modern dining experience that’s sure to hit new heights.
The place: Concealed on the 23rd floor of QRE plaza, just across Hopewell Centre in Wan Chai, MOMOJEIN is a new Korean restaurant that introduces traditional Korean dishes with a contemporary and more refined take. It also houses Korean celebrity chef Lim Hee Won, an experienced chef who has spent over 10 years in the industry and has been crowned one of the top star chefs in Korean cooking shows. Good looks and a down-to-earth nature have earned him a sizable group of enthusiastic supporters back in Korea, and we can’t be more excited to join the fangirl team. Of course, MOMOJEIN has much more to offer than a pretty face alone. The restaurant combines a modern interior design with natural elements. It gleams with natural lights thanks to the huge panels of windows across the restaurant. The designer also did a great job in creating a clean, minimalistic yet elegant environment by using a combination of black, white and wood decorations.
The K-eats: To start with, the Kalbi Hotteok ($82/Piece) is a must-order. Traditionally, one of the most popular Korean street foods, MOMOJEIN abides by its inventive philosophy and took the usual sugar and cinnamon filled crepe bun and stuffed it with savoury, succulent beef instead. The crepe bun made of glutinous rice was also crispy and chewy. The dish was wonderful just by itself, but the ranch and teriyaki sauce paired with it really served to take it to a whole new level of divineness. The beef and poached Egg ($78) was delightful too. While the name seems rather unassuming, the dish imparts a strong wonderful flavour. A runny poached egg is always an aesthetically pleasing sight and the shredded beef was sweet and tender. But the highlight of this dish lies in the white radish. Stewed in a mixture of sugar, soy sauce and thick vegetable broth, the radish absorbed the essence of the dish and was incredibly luscious. Fans of fried chicken will absolutely adore the country fried chicken ($230). Yes, we’ve all been a little worn down by all the craze about Korean Fried Chicken ever since “My Love from the Star”, but trust us on this and give the perfectly fried juicy chicken a try and you might just fall in love with this comfort food all over again.
What makes the fried chicken here stand out from the rest is its marinating process. Using a chicken broth made from a handed-down secret recipe and marinated for six hours, the chicken was incredibly tender and overflowed with juice. The Kalbi and coriander salad ($340) was also well executed. US prime ribs marinated in yet another secret recipe barbeque sauce and served with the unusual choice of a coriander salad with its unique scent that surprisingly seemed to have a particular affinity with the soft and aromatic beef.
Verdict: With wallet-friendly prices, a modern and relaxing décor and most importantly, great traditional Korean dishes revamped with inventive techniques and ingredients, MOMOJEIN is sure to become one of our favourite casual hangout spots. Don’t miss out on the weekday set lunches too. Good quality Korean food with a price averaging $90 dollars is a deal that cannot be matched.
23/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen's Road East, Wanchai,