What if I told you there was this French bistro located in the heart of Richmond that was operated by 2 Chinese chefs? Okay, before the uncontrollable laughter and the Richmond jokes begin, let me say this does exist and no, it is not a Hong Kong-Style French cafe. So what possessed me to drive all the way into traffic hell to try this place? Well, I'm not really sure to tell you the truth. Call it pure curiosity. So would this curiosity pay off or would I be spending money to get all those door dings out? Viv and I were about to find out...
Formerly Cuccina Toscana, MoMa is the brainchild of Xin Mao and Henry Mok (hence MoMa), who both attended Art Institute of Vancouver. After working in various restaurants in town, they finally opened up their own place in Richmond. We started our meal with a couple of appies. Viv had the Warm Steelhead Trout Salad with French beans, potatoes and cherry tomatoes. The sous vide trout was moist and just barely cooked. It was buttery and naturally sweet. The crunchy beans added texture and vibrancy while the citrus vinaigrette brightened up the dish. For myself, I had the Crispy Pork Belly on a bed of taro puree with mostarda, chili oil and jus. The pork belly was crunchy with a moist interior. Although there was noticeable peppery notes, it could've benefited from more aggressive seasoning. On the other hand, the taro puree didn't lack any seasoning. Combined with the chili oil, sweet and tart mostarda and jus, the dish had all the flavour it needed.
Onto our mains, Viv had the Smoked Brome Lake Duck Breast with an Asian aromatic glaze on a bed of lentils accompanied by salsa verde. There was no mistaking the smokiness as it lingered after every bite. The skin could've been crispier, yet the meat itself was nicely tender. The glaze was noticeably citrusy while the lentils were chewy and spiked with plenty of flavour (especially onion). For myself, I went for the BC Sablefish which was miso cured and sous vide. It rested on a bed of cabbage & corn fricassee. The sablefish was completely melt-in-my-mouth soft while still being flaky. The light torching on the outside added both colour and some smokiness. There was a natural flavour to the fish with only the slightest hint of miso. Although I personally liked the soft skin, it probably would've been better if it was seared crispy. The fricassee was sweet with crunch and did not take away from the delicate fish.
For dessert, Viv chose the Baked Molten Chocolate Cake with a toffee reduction and vanilla ice cream. Moist and bittersweet, the cake was not really cake-like. It was surprisingly light in sweetness (which could've been their intention), hence, the toffee and ice cream helped in that regard. Seeing how there was only 3 choices of dessert and I didn't want cheesecake, I decided on Billie's Macarons. These were crispy on the outside while soft on the inside. They could've been chewier and less gritty. However, not bad for restaurant. In the end, we were pretty surprised at the level of execution. Obviously this is not a knock at the chefs, as they did a great job. Rather, we didn't expect it from a place smack dab in the middle of bubble tea and hot pot joints.
- Proteins are on point
- A good balance of Asian influence
- Attentive service
- Limited menu
- Attentive service, but really green