Thursday, March 12, 2009
570 N. Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA
Is bigger better when it comes to sushi? Momoya left me uncertain. Here's my working hypothesis: If you're going to serve platter-sized sushi rolls, they'd better be made of the freshest ingredients. As far as I can tell from one visit, Momoya accomplishes this.
The location, in a shopping strip dominated by a Safeway, could lead you to expect a neighborhood pub behind the dark exterior. Inside, the walls are painted a startling deep sea green, sparsely decorated with a few framed posters and signs advertising sushi specials.
First I tried the spicy super poki roll, filled with tuna and topped with grilled eel. This was almost a meal in itself with a side of steamed and salted edamame, fresh and sweet as just-picked corn.
Curiosity led me to keep ordering. The "smash roll" was shrimp tempura surrounded by eel, avocado, eel and iceberg lettuce. The whole thing was dredged in "crumb;" at first I thought it was tempura batter, but a friend later suggested panko crumbs, and I think she was right.
I admired the creativity, but really, the thing was ridiculous. There was no good way to eat it: crumbs flying everywhere, too big to eat in one bite, too loose to make two or three bites out of a slice. I ate it anyway, of course, with no attempt at style. Good thing I had a nice dry Asahi beer to cut through the crumb.
I didn't try any nigiri, but from my seat at the sushi bar I saw some being made, and the portions were astounding. Slabs of fish hung over the shaped rice. It would have been vaguely unappetizing if the fish hadn't been so fresh. Generous, but not pretty.
If I hadn't been dining solo, I would have ordered some other interesting combos, like the Gilroy roll, with fresh garlic and basil, or the Las Vegas, which combined fresh lobster, avocado, tuna and mango.
A friendly neighbor at the sushi bar told me that Momoya supplies the sushi for Google headquarters just down the road, which allows them to buy in sufficient quantities that their fish is always the freshest. If you go, show up hungry, and the friendly servers and chefs will take good care of you.