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Published October 26th 2015
Authentic Japanese Dining Experience
Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Japanese Cuisine
Did you know there is a restaurant in the CBD where you can share a traditional Japanese meal with your family and friends? In today's society, we are always rushed from one place to the next; to the point, that we simply do not spend enough quality time with our loved ones. We see it every day: busy people rushing through the streets, enjoying their sushi roll on the go or how about sitting around a communal table at your local Japanese restaurant while watching a traditionally dressed Japanese cook grill your food on a hibachi table. Yes, Japanese food is great for busy people and those wanting a little something different, but have you thought about sharing a hot pot with your family and friends that combines the wonderment of authentic Japanese cuisine with a private scaled-down version of a hibachi table?
Today is your lucky day, if you want to try something different. Not only is Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Japanese Cuisine the perfect place to go but it is the original restaurant to serve hot pots in Melbourne's CBD. Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Japanese Cuisine, found on Little Bourke Street, specializes in creating hot pots, which originated in East Asia but these are authentic Japanese-style varieties.
You may be wondering what a hot pot is? Think private dining experience with a scaled down hibachi table, now take away the cook and add in your own custom made soup, from the stock (base), meats (or go completely vegetarian with tofu), to your choice of noodles and vegetables. You can add as many or as few ingredients to your hot pot as you like.
Our server, Haruka, was kind enough to explain the process of choosing a hot pot to share. She gave us plenty of details, which I'll share with you now. Firstly, one must choose one or two soup bases for your soup. Don't let this confuse you! They do not mix the soup bases together. The hot pot is split into two sections, in the shape of a ying yang symbol—very cute. Secondly, one needs to choose the meat (beef, chicken, seafood, pork) or tofu, etc. Next, you will choose the type of noodles, ranging from light as air rice noodles to thick udon noodles. All that is left is to choose your vegetables. Sounds easy, yes?
Haruka brought out our hot pot with our choice of two soup stocks. After turning on the burner, she added the meats we ordered and gave us instructions for how long we should allow the meats to cook before adding our vegetables and lastly, the noodles. She then advised us how long our soup should cook in total before we could sample our meal and left us to chat amongst ourselves.
At first glance, it did not appear as though one hot pot would be enough for a group of five to share but it was surprisingly filling and very delicious. A few people from my group ordered other items from the menu because who could resist the many share plates from Gyoza Gyoza, Japanese Gyoza Bar conveniently adjacent to Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Japanese Cuisines.
Our meal finished, I asked Haruka to share some history of the hot pot with me. Haruka explained that "Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Japanese Cuisine Nabe is very popular in Japan" Japanese families and friends often get together around a "big communal pot for great food" so they can enjoy one another's company.
She went on to say that there are mainly two types of Nabe, which is short for nabemono and means "cooking pot" and mono, which means thing or things. According to Haruka, the two popular types of hot pots are Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki. "Shabu Shabu is thinly sliced meat and vegetables stirred in a hot pot with Konbu broth, usually served with your own mixture of dipping sauces." Interestingly, the name shabu-shabu is derived from the sound the ingredients make as they are being stirred in the broth.
The other popular hot pot is Sukiyaki, which is similar to Shabu Shabu. There are two key differences though. "Sukiyaki broth is soy sauce and sake based," which makes it sweeter when compared to Shabu Shabu. An interesting fact about Sukiyaki, it is normally served in the winder months and is predominantly found at Japanese "year-end parties" called bōnenkai (forget the year gathering, a.k.a., drinking parties)."
As with Gyoza Gyoza, Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu practices the minimalistic approach in the traditional Japanese style. It is very unassuming and easy to walk by so be alert. When you locate this Japanese restaurant, do not let the lack of an open for business sign dissuade you from entering. Most people enter through Gyoza Gyoza, next door and are seated at Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu in the rear, which is reserved for larger groups so Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu may give the appearance that they are not open for business when in fact they are.
Once seated, you will notice the restaurant is quite accommodating for small and large groups. They also have another level above both restaurants, which will easily house larger groups and can be reserved for your special occasions.
Whether you are eating in their main dining area or on level 1 of their restaurant you will appreciate their true-to-form Japanese décor and tables that make you feel as though you are in Japan. Matter of fact, Haruka explained that the idea behind Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu was born out of the desire for families and friends to have a place to gather and truly share a meal together.
Large tables accommodate big families and groups of friends.
Haruka noted that the owners have been in the hospitality business for more than 10 years, having several different styles of Japanese restaurants all located in the Melbourne CBD." Not only is one of the owners the head chef, but he has trained locally in Melbourne and Japan as well.
The friendly staff are very welcoming and happy to make recommendations or assist you in choosing your hot pots. If you find you are in the mood for something more than soup, then order from Gyoza Gyoza's menu. You will find "over 80 share-plates and over 100 different styles of Sake, Shouchu and Plum wines and Japanese beers" to choose from. Having so many options, it might not be a bad idea to seek advice from the experts, like wait-staff, Haruka.
A private function room overlooking the restaurant.
I asked Haruka what the secret to the success of Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu was and she was quick to say our "high quality food and great customer service" and I agree. If you want to enjoy an evening with family and friends while sharing a hot pot, then Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu is a great choice.
Sasha, a first time customer noted, "I was skeptical and a little confused about the hot pots but the food was great and it was very homey to sit at the table and chat with my friends while our food cooked. Cole, an experienced diner of Japanese cuisine said, "There's nothing better than a hot pot and cold beer." Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. Stop by and enjoy a hot pot today!
Though I would love to be truly selfish and keep Momo Sukiyaki & Shabu Shabu Japanese Cuisine all to myself, I would feel remiss if I did not share the wonders of their amazing hot pots with you. This is one place that is too good to stay tucked away for long. Visit them today for a truly great meal, snack or beverage before they become the hottest place in town and with food this good they will be soon enough!