published Thursday, March 7th, 2013

You'll want mo' at MoMo

The steak and shrimp bowl, salad and spring rolls make for a filling meal at MoMo Hibachi Japanese Grill.
The steak and shrimp bowl, salad and spring rolls make for a filling meal at MoMo Hibachi Japanese Grill.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
IF YOU GO

What: MoMo Hibachi Japanese Grill, 9332 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy

Phone: 423-332-3003

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Price range: $1.75 (sweet carrots)-$7.95 (hibachi chicken and steak, chicken and shrimp, steak and shrimp, or chicken, steak and shrimp)

Alcohol: Domestic and imported beers

When I moved to Soddy-Daisy in 2004, the international dining choices were limited to one Chinese restaurant. But it's amazing what a few short years can bring. We now have three Italian eateries, two of Mexican flavor and the first Japanese restaurant: MoMo's.

It's a small restaurant surrounded by retail establishments twice its size. But what it lacks in space, it makes up for with taste.

THE MENU

One of the first things you'll notice in perusing the menu is the prices. Nothing on the menu is higher than $7.95. And for that, you get a lot of food, which is one of MoMo's missions. An outside sign advertises the restaurant as a place specializing in quality and quantity.

The hibachi-style entrees are prepared in the kitchen, not tableside -- there's simply no room for hibachi tables -- and come with rice or pasta. Choose your meat: Chicken, steak or shrimp, or a combination.

Each entree is served with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce, with a sprinkling of shredded carrots and a light ginger dressing (or ranch or honey mustard, if you wish).

All meats can be cooked with pasta rather than rice; a vegetable-only mixture is available for vegetarians. Main-dish salads with hibachi shrimp, chicken or steak are other options.

The only appetizers offered are springs rolls and a plate of six fried pot stickers. The menu isn't extensive, but there's something for most every palate.

THE ORDER

Our meal started with a shared order of spring rolls, smaller than traditional egg rolls but lighter and crispier. These were excellent, hot, crispy and plumped full of veggies.

The ginger dressing on the salad was not as thick as those I've had at other hibachi eateries. And though I prefer a thicker dressing, this had a good taste.

My order of shrimp and steak arrived in a large, deep bowl filled with rice, julienned pieces of squash, slices of onion, nice-size pieces of steak and large shrimp -- enough for leftovers to take home. The steak was tender, the shrimp cooked just right, and the vegetables were crisp-tender. The white sauce married all, and what a flavorful union it was.

THE SPACE

MoMo's is in a strip center next to the Soddy-Daisy Walmart. Its shotgun design doesn't offer a lot of room, but the owners appear to have made the most of it with tables taking up the front half, the kitchen in the back and a cash register/takeout area dividing the two. The less-is-more design offers a clean, simple feel with colorful walls and modern furnishings.

THE SERVICE

My big-town daughter dining with me was a little taken aback when our waitress went from table to table looking for aspirin to ward off an impending migraine, but I didn't think twice about it. Soddy-Daisy is a small town where even the servers feel like family. Once she'd found a diner with the correct medication, she was right on task and quick to bring our appetizer, drinks and entree, as well as the fortune cookies with our bill. No complaints.

THE VERDICT

This is one restaurant I'll be frequenting. Gimme mo' MoMo. It's a welcome change of pace for Soddy-Daisy and a nice addition, saving a drive to other Japanese restaurants in Lakesite and Hixson. Best advice: Come hungry.

Contact correspondent Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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