Richmond, B.C. is famous for its abundant and amazing Chinese restaurants, but the options decrease substantially if you’re in the mood for something more occidental. That’s why I’m so stoked about MoMa Contemporary Bistro, which opened earlier this year in central Richmond’s “Golden Village” area.
MoMa’s minimalist (mirrors, candles in Mason jars, ivory panelling), quiet, low-lit dining room contrasts with the boisterous, bright hustle of the neighbouring Asian restaurants. It’s a date place. And boy, were Jason and I happy to be on a date night for the first time in a long time.
“MoMa” combines the last names of the restaurant’s two young owners and chefs, Xin Mao and Henry Mok, who’ve done stints at Cin Cin, Cioppino’s and the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Their vision is “contemporary,” which translates to traditional Italian and French with Asian influences. The open kitchen, framed by jars of their homemade chili sauce, gives you a direct view into their passion.
To start, we shared the phenomenal prawn fritter ($13). This had more than a slight Asian influence, but I’m not complaining one bit. A sake batter covered huge, meaty prawn pieces, which we dipped in togorashi aioli. Just perfect. No fear about unsubstantial portions here: we counted seven big prawns in this appetizer.
The crispy pork belly ($22) is a MoMa signature for good reason. Their belly brings the trifecta of crispy skin, buttery fat and tender meat together on one plate. This well-executed piece of meat got a fantastic supporting cast of taro root puree, streaks of sweet mostarda and edamame beans. This already put me into “must come back” mode.
I couldn’t decide between the crispy Cornish hen or the lamb pappardelle ($21), so I asked the waitress what she would pick. She replied very honestly, “The pappardelle because the Cornish hen is smaller.” I love women who eat.
I can’t resist a good braised lamb; MoMa’s is cooked for 24 hours. I gobbled every bit of the lamb and pasta with peas, ricotta and mint. The pappardelle is a great fall/winter dish. Now if they’d only come and cook it at my house on a hectic weekday.
Desserts don’t seem to be a focus, as there are only two choices of maple mascarpone cheesecake or macarons. Neither excited us, so we passed.
I think there was only one waitress for the whole restaurant. The room isn’t big, but having another helper would make things like refilling water and getting the bill more efficient.
Overall, MoMa is a refreshing new addition to Richmond, and I hope it’s open for many more date nights to come.
BTW, check out some much better photos here.
MoMa Contemporary Bistro, 8580 Cambie Rd., Richmond, B.C., (604) 276-0576. Open for dinner only 5-10 p.m., closed Mondays.