Momoyaki has been a favorite of mine for years now and definitely satisfied my Korean food cravings whenever I needed it! When Kay and Chi Yun opened their restaurant in 2008, it was a new start for them after they had to close their previously owned coffee shop. Yun, owner, chef, and mother, relied on home recipes from her own mother and friends to create Momoyaki’s unique sauces, which are all made in house.
This family owned business has close relationships with other local distributers, such as Rainbow Produce (vegetables), Cheney Brothers (meat), sushi-grade fresh fish from a supplier in Orlando, and a Korean distributor in Atlanta for the ingredients specifically required in Korean cuisine. They make sure to prepare the food fresh when the order comes in to ensure maximum taste.
Along with their relationships with other local businesses, the Yun family is a pillar of the Korean community in Gainesville, often providing food and care to those in need. This system of care is reflected even in the restaurant’s name as Momo was taken after the titular character of the novel by Michael Ende. This character has the special ability to wholeheartedly listen to others, and the way that she helps those in need influenced Yun’s way of caring for those in the community with home style cooking.
As for food, Momo offers a variety of mostly Korean, and Japanese foods, as well as fusion dishes. They have socially distanced indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout.
Chef’s Specials come with banchan, Korean side dishes, ranging from kimchi, stir fried rice cake, and Korean marinated bean sprouts or broccoli. These side dishes are free, as they are in most restaurants in Korea. I’ve tried many dishes from here but my favorites would be:
1. Steamed Mandu (pork $8, veggie $7)- six dumplings drenched in a soy sauce based sauce and topped with red peppers, scallions, onions, and mushrooms. Great for a snack or sharing pre-meal.
2. Mini Galbi ($9), a few slices of beef short ribs marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and grilled. The meat is chewy, tender and delicious, and there’s a full meal version for $19 if you want more.
1. Jjambbong (짬뽕), their spicy seafood noodle soup, which has a broth that definitely gives a kick. Just count how many whole hot chili peppers are in there if you don’t believe me. Not recommended for those who do not like spicy. The noodles are on the thicker side and perfect for slurping. The broth is filled with shrimp, squid, scallops, onions, carrots, and napa cabbage.
2. Hui Dup Bop (회덮밥), $13.5, raw fish, imitation crap, and mixed greens, topped with lots of garlic, scallions, and seaweed flakes. Super fresh, healthy, and yummy if you like raw fish. It is served with chojang (slightly vinegary Korean spicy pepper paste sauce) on the side so you can adjust the spice.
3. Tang Soo Yook (탕수육), $13, crispy deep fried pork slices served with a sweet and sour pineapple sauce with carrots, onions, zucchini, green bell pepper, and black mushrooms. If you like it crispy, dip the pork in the sauce. If you like it saucy, go ahead and poor the sauce all over and enjoy.
There are a few vegetarian options as well. You could get:
1. Bibimbop (비빔밥), in regular $12, or stone pot $13 versions. Go for the stone pot if you want a sizzling, crispy finish on the bottom! However, if you are doing takeout it does not have the same effect since you can’t get a steaming hot stone pot to go, unless you want to burn your table. Bibimbop is a rice bowl with marinated carrots, radish, zucchini, beat sprouts, and spinach. You can also choose a protein if you are a meat lover. It is served with gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) on the side and topped with a sunny side up egg.
2. Bibim nangmyun (비빔냉면), $12, is also a good choice for vegetarians if you want cold noodles. It is a dish made with buckwheat noodles and mixed greens, mixed together with a spicy paste. Just ask for it without the sliced sirloin they usually top it with. Toppings also include pickled radish, sliced Asian pear, and an egg. It is served with a side of cold broth. Perfect dish especially for the summer!
3. Eggplant Kangpookgi (가지 깐풍기) $12, is a delightful dish made of fried eggplant tossed in a sweet and spicy garlic chili pepper sauce. It is pretty spicy, and very flavorful! It comes with a side of rice to eat take down the spice level a bit.
The portions are generous, especially with the side dishes. Make sure to check out their daily specials, such as the College night special (15% off one entrée) and Bibimbop Tuesdays!
As you can see there are so many reasons to try out Momoyaki. Try it once and I’m sure you will, as they say, “Momo ‘til you can’t no mo’!”