Momo Sushi

212 Queen Street
Alexandria, VA  22314
Momo Sushi & Cafe on Urbanspoon

I had been eating pretty heavy meals as of late (Good Stuff, The Canopy, Mama Rosa...) so for today at lunch I wanted something on the lighter side and usually when I think of the lighter side, I think sushi.  I have a hard time evaluating sushi when it's not an omakase like Sushi of Gari since that is a pre-defined flow of a meal and of course all you have to say is foie gras sushi and you've pretty much described the experience.  However, when I'm having sushi for lunch and still have to get back to work, I don't like choosing individual pieces and I just go for the quick and easy Sushi meals that restaurants provide.  Also, I stopped ordering rolls years ago since I prefer the cleaner flavors you find with just nigiri.  This may have reduced my exposure to some of the more creative dishes in a sushi restaurant.

I decided to go back to Old Town Alexandria and try out Momo Sushi which seems to have garnered a lot of positive reviews.  It's located in a pretty quiet part of Old Town, far away from the main downtown area and surrounded by townhomes and tree lined streets.  It's a quaint, narrow townhouse itself that opens up into smallish sushi restaurant.  The lower level only has a sushi bar with about 3 tables and I'm told there is an upstairs which I hope is substantially bigger.  The place struck me as a cozy, out of way restaurant that seems to have built up a very loyal client base.

Before I get to the food, I want to say that I'm not entirely certain how to fully evaluate sushi.  I know the flavors I like and the difference between fresh sushi and not so fresh sushi but beyond that, most of my sushi experiences tend to blend together.  I guess you can say that I can tell the difference between good and bad sushi but beyond that I'm still trying to find my way even though sushi is one of my favorite meals. For lunch, I order their Sushi Delight special which is seven pieces of nigiri and the omnipresent California roll (avocado, salmon roe, fake crab and rice all wrapped in seaweed).  In addition, I decided to order some shu mai which is a steamed shrimp and vegetable dumpling.

One of my better food experiences was with Blue Ribbon Sushi in Soho where they serve you just the Miso soup broth but have the paste on the side.  This allows you to control the miso flavor in your soup and creates a neat interactive experience.  I've always wondered why more restaurants didn't do that and you're probably wondering why I'm even talking about it but since my meal came with miso soup and a salad, that thought popped into my mind since I didn't have anything particularly interesting to write about this particular Miso soup beyond that it was like every Miso soup you've ever had.  The salad thing is always perplexing to me.  It's a plain salad with a dressing akin to thousand island dressing.  I never eat it and it just feels so out of place in this type of meal.

Again, I'm not an expert with identifying sushi so I believe the seven pieces I got were tuna, salmon, shrimp, albacore, yellowtail, mackerel, and snapper.  It seemed to be a pretty standard selection with simple preparations for each except the albacore which included some chopped scallions on top.  The sushi was elegant with nice sized portions (it's worse to me to provide larger portions than smaller ones in regards to sushi).  The fish was fresh with no hint of a fishy taste.  I particularly enjoyed the salmon and tuna which were pleasingly plump so that the creamy, buttery tastes came out in both.  After I was done, it left me wishing that they had some sort of omakase so that I could see just how talented and creative their sushi chefs could be.  Oh, it also came with a California Roll which is salmon roe (I think), avocado, fake crab meat.  It was pretty standard fare for these types of combos

I also ordered the shu mai since I craved something cooked beyond soup.  This is where I found a bit of a fishy taste which made me think these were not wholly fresh and probably had been frozen for a while.  I would just pass on these and stick with the sushi when I come back.

I've always tended to classify my sushi restaurants as higher end joints that are a special experience like Sushi Yasuda or as regular places that you can go back to often and will give you a reliable and fresh sushi meal with some sake mixed in like Sushi Choshi.  I would put Momo Sushi squarely in the latter category.  It is a quaint, out of the way, cozy restaurant that will give you simple and fresh sushi that won't break the bank which will keep you coming back.  What else can you ask for?


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