News about BOKA Restaurant Group's latest opening, Momotaro, had me wanting to check out the hot spot ASAP. I stopped by on a weeknight with one of my girlfriends Lauren to see what all of the hype was about. Momotaro has three levels including the main dining room, an izakaya lounge in the basement, and a private dining room on the second floor reminiscent of a Japanese board room. We were seated in the bustling main dining room which also features a robata grill and sushi kitchen.
Before perusing the menu, Lauren and I tried two cocktails recommended to us by our knowledgeable server. She tried Warlord's Bounty with Cruzan aged light rum, Rhum Clement pure cane, Mandarine Napoleon, wasabi almond, and lime, while I tried Monk's Journey with Ketel One vodka, Chareau aloe liqueur, matcha green tea, and lime. These babies were strong and refreshing!
To ensure we sampled as much as possible, we decided the best course of action was to split a little bit of everything. Momotaro's menu is large and is comprised of snacks, cold and hot starters, sushi, coal-cooked skewers, hibachi meats and seafood, and rice and noodles.
A trip to Momotaro is not complete without sampling some of the fresh sushi they are known for. We splurged on the sushi omakase or chef's selection of sushi. It was a little difficult to share each piece and admittedly we butchered them with our chopsticks but this was the best sushi I've ever had. Ever. Fresh, clean, simple. No aiolis or sauces to cover up the pure beauty of each piece of fish. From salmon and yellow tail, to fatty tuna belly and crab, each piece melted in our mouths.
Next, we sampled the gyutan which is imperil wagyu beef tongue, with spicy karashi mustard, and smoked peppercorn. We ordered this based on our server's recommendation and because we wanted to try beef tongue, but it wasn't that special. I'd pass on this next time. I did like the spicy mustard though. That will clear your sinuses!
From the hot starters section of the menu, we tried the age dashi tofu with mizuna greens, and sweet soy dashi. The tofu was fried but was super soggy in the dashi. Maybe it was supposed to be, but I wasn't feeling it. Lauren and I both love tofu, but this was not our thang.
|Age Dashi Tofu|
Our favorite dish of the night (aside from the incredible sushi) was absolutely the chili mentaiko spaghetti. I know what you're thinking...spaghetti at a modern Japanese restaurant? OH YES. The bed of noodles sat atop a runny jidori egg, that, when broken into, oozed all over the pasta creating a cream-like sauce. Chili strands added a hit of spice, and roe was sprinkled throughout. Those little fish eggs did a heck of a job hiding in that pasta though! This dish was incredibly flavorful and spicy! A must-try for sure. My only regret was not ordering one for each of us!
|Chili Mentaiko Spaghetti|
Last, but not least, we saved room for dessert! It was a tough decision but ultimately we chose the namelaka chocolate sponge cake. This was one of the prettiest chocolate cakes I've ever eaten and was topped with green tea ice cream and cherries. As a bonus, the cake is served with a shot of hot fudge on the side. I mean...come on. The cake was smooth, rich, and a little crispy all at the same time. It was a sweet ending to a wonderful meal.
|Namelaka Chocolate Sponge Cake|
While we may have had some hits and misses during our dinner at Momotaro, it was worth the risk we took with some menu items. I'd absolutely recommend trying some sushi and appetizers, as well as one of the handcrafted cocktails and desserts. The menu can be a little intimidating, so study up beforehand and arrive with an open mind, and an empty stomach.
I'm giving Momotaro 4 ghosts out of 5 for their incomparable ambiance, phenomenal sushi, and extremely knowledgeable staff.
820 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60607