Tokyo-Based Chain Brings Authentic, Gourmet Sukiyaki And Shabu Shabu To The SGV
Noticing a void in authentic sukiyaki restaurants in America, Japanese-Taiwanese brothers Len and Anthony Hayashi (along with their friend David Chen), have brought a beloved and very popular Tokyo based-chain to Southern California. Mo-Mo Paradise is a shabu shabu and sukiyaki chain that now has over 100 branches in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and China. Mo-Mo is known for their high-quality service and all-you-can-eat shabu shabu with a healthy twist.
"In Asia, Mo-Mo's Paradise is a entire dining experience. Service as well as the food is the reason why patrons come visit our shops," Len Hayashi told LAist. "Here in the U.S., there's a misconception that Asian food and good service don't go hand-in-hand. This is one of the reasons why we wanted to bring Mo-Mo Paradise here."
Mo-Mo-Paradise is a high-end version of an all-you-can-eat restaurant. There are four soup bases to choose from, from which you can choose two: shabu shabu, sukiyaki, kim chi, and shio-tonkotsu. The shabu shabu base is made using bonito and kombu (seaweed) and is paired with their exclusive ponzu (citrus soy-based) and goma-dare (sesame) sauces, formulated by Mo-Mo-Paradise exclusively in Japan and directly imported from there. The shio-tonkotsu is a rich broth made with pork bone, vegetables and roasted garlic, and the kim chi soup base is made with homemade kim chi that is pan-roasted with miso and vegetables, and served with a spicy miso sauce, hot peppers, and garlic. The most popular broth, however, is the sukiyaki, which is a sweet and savory soy-based broth that is slowly cooked alongside vegetables.
For those confused about the difference between shabu shabu and sukiyaki, both dishes use thinly sliced meat and vegetables served with dipping sauces. Shabu shabu, however is like hot pot, cooked in soup, and tends to be more savory instead of sweet.
"A lot of people tell us they've had sukiyaki before, but when we do it for them tableside and they eat it how its supposed to be done, it's usually a completely different taste than what they've had before," said Chen. "Usually people just throw all these vegetables on top of the meat and dump everything and they can find into a soup like it's shabu shabu. It's about balance of flavors, which we achieve quite well here."
For the sukiyaki broth, the staff at Mo-Mo Paradise come to your tableside and cook the meat briefly until it changes color while explaining the history and details about the dish. Then, they beat a raw-pasteurized egg and put it in a bowl for you to dip your cooked meat in. Although the raw egg may make some uneasy, the egg actually completes the sukiyaki flavor.
The tableside cooking isn't the only attention to detail that sets them apart. The flat price of the meal gets you your choice of soup bases and all-you-can-eat beef, pork, vegetables, rice, noodles and Japanese brown curry—much more to choose from than other shabu shabu establishments. They have over twenty fresh seasonal vegetables and side dishes on any given day. Once the customer choose the broth they want, they are escorted to what is called the "Farmers' Market" where they go down the impressive buffet-line of fresh and crisp produce. After "shopping" at the market, they can move to the all-you-can-drink "Drink Garden," which includes a craft soda machine, La Mill Coffee, and a build-your-own boba station. There's also dessert included at the end. Another worthy mention is their ramen, which is made to order and stands up to those from ramen shops.
We were treated to St. Helens Premium Angus belly and chuck eye roll and Snake River Farms Kurobuta pork shoulder during our visit—though the restaurant is still working on finalizing the menu—and the cuts were top-notch and melted in my mouth. They went well in both the shabu shabu and the sukiyaki broths, but the sukiyaki was so delectable that we opted for it on most bites. Co-owner Anthony Haiyashi also makes the savory Japanese brown beef curry himself—not something one would expect at a sukiyaki restaurant, but it stands up to that of Japanese curry houses.
Mo-Mo Paradise will officially open to the public on April 1. They are currently in the process of obtaining a alcohol license. Once that goes through, they will be serving frozen Kirin Beer, which for those who have never tried, is basically like a beer slushie that never gets diluted. Weekday lunch costs $17.95 and includes two plates of meat. Each additional plate is $5. Weekend lunch & dinner price is $27.95 and includes as many plates of meat you can put away.
Mo-Mo Paradise is located at 17596 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, (310) 694-3553.