Sure to surpass Saizeriya! Why I wanted to bow down to the astonishing cost performance of Momona, a new business model of SUKAIRAKU
All-you-can-eat dim sum from 2,254 yen…40 minutes in line to try it!
All-you-can-eat dim sum from 2,254 yen, and it’s an all-you-can-eat order buffet. In February of this year, the opening of a new business model “Yumcha TERRACE Momotai” in Machida, Tokyo, by the SUKAIRAKU Group was the talk of the town on the Internet.
The company is planning to open about 20 restaurants in the southern Kanto region by the end of 2023, which is very aggressive!
But, you know, it is a family restaurant. But it is a family restaurant, and there is no way the food can be that good at such a very low price. You would have to use commercial frozen foods or mass-produced inferior products to make it worthwhile. Nekota is always thought to be writing articles about discovery, but this time, as a journalist, I decided to get to the bottom of it (a lie) and went undercover to interview the restaurant.
Momona” is located in an inconveniently accessible location at Tsurukawa Station.
Too far away! If I had no use for it, I would never come here! It seems that Momotana is a remodeled version of Bamiyan Tsurukawa, which opened in 1986 as its first restaurant. Next door is a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant called “Uoya-ji,” which is also an affiliate. I thought it was “Uoya-ro = Sakanayaro,” but it is called “Toto-ya-michi. I can’t read!
I was caught off guard and arrived around 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday, only to find that there were 18 groups waiting! If I wasn’t working, I would have definitely gone home or settled for “Sakanayaro. It was chilly and drizzling, and we waited for 40 minutes. When we are finally shown to our seats, the waiter, who looks like he is not very familiar with the place, gives us an explanation.
The rumored cat-shaped robot was in full operation.
Looking inside the restaurant, a cat-shaped robot, which was recently seen at Gusto, was carrying dishes. Yes, I heard that the Sukairaku Group has fully deployed this cat in 2,100 stores nationwide.
The menu consists of the all-you-can-eat course A (24 dishes for 90 minutes) for 2254 yen, course B (38 dishes for 120 minutes) for 2639 yen, and course C (49 dishes for 120 minutes) for 2969 yen, and the higher the price, the more choices of luxurious dishes such as shark fin and Peking duck. Of course, I chose the C course. I mean, don’t you think the price doesn’t change much?
You can order only three dishes at a time from the touch panel. I was about to swear at them, “You’re trying to buy time by cooking to suppress orders, aren’t you? I was about to swear at them, but I could order in a row even before the food arrived, so it’s a mysterious 3-item-at-a-time rule.
The remaining time until the last order is counted on the panel, and you are rushed from the very beginning. We decided to order the B-C course limited menu before we were full, so we ordered Peking duck, truffle dumplings, crab dumplings, Dongpo pork, spicy chicken, five-meal Yuba roll, cold beef, steamed scallops from Eruption Bay, shrimp rice flour roll,hot lettuce as a salad , and seasonal hot greens.
It took about 5 minutes after ordering.
I thought it would take a while since the restaurant was crowded, but about one minute after ordering, the dishes started arriving one after another! The father at the table next to us said, “What? It came in about 10 seconds after we ordered. I guess it’s an amazing operation.
I was surprised that the food was brought by a human and not a cat. Next to me, a child was excitedly saying, “A cat brought it! It’s so cute! I asked the waiter, “Does this cat only want to go to the family table because it is not praised when it is brought to a single customer’s table? I asked the waitress, “That’s not true at all! It’s just a coincidence. Is it simply that the cat is too busy and a human is carrying it instead? That is also a strange story.
The important thing is the food, but the portions of each dish are small, about one serving per dish. The dumpling type comes in a seiro, so be careful because it takes up a lot of space and you can’t put a plate on it.
Peking Duck is not skin but meat. I usually complain, “Why only the skin? but I was convinced after eating it. The meat is hard. The truffle dumpling has a chewy skin that looks like it contains tapioca flour, and the truffle aroma is strong. Inside are shrimp and pork. They are delicious.
The beef cold dish is said to be made from beef tendon, so it is moist and has no smell, and goes well with boiled peanuts. Surprisingly, the warm lettuce was crispy and the soy sauce was rich, and I could eat about 10 more plates.
The shrimp rice flour rolls are a Cantonese dish called “intestine flour” and consist of three shrimp in a gnarled rice flour dough. The oyster-like sauce is involved, and the taste is quite complete.
They all taste like they’re from a real dim sum restaurant, don’t they?
I came here with the intention of being stingy (what a bad customer!), but everything tasted so authentic that I wanted to groan and say, “It’s all done… Sorry, FRIDAY Digital. I’m sorry, Mr. FRIDAY Digital, but I’m going to be honest with my heart and give you a compliment.
The Cantonese steamed scallops from Kappa Bay were large and well seasoned with rice wine (maybe), and the five-meat yuba roll was packed with bamboo shoots, pork, and vermicelli (maybe).
As I ate one dish after another like a food fighter, I began to think that I might be able to conquer all of the dishes. I was so excited that I thought I could conquer all of the dishes. One after another, we ordered xiaolongbao, jade steamed dumplings, hot and sour soup, fried young chicken with golden sandwiches, Hong Kong fried chicken cakes, green cabbage buns, seafood siumai, fried eggplant with soy sauce, radish cakes, and fried white fish with oil and ginger sauce. It is now like some kind of attraction. I’m sure they are talking about it in the kitchen, “The customer at table 55 is eating so much…” and so on.
Some of them are ordinary. The Dongpo pork is tough, and the fried eggplant with soy sauce is tasteless. On the other hand, the fried white fish with oil and ginger sauce is on par with that of a high-end Chinese restaurant. I have never eaten such crispy and fluffy fried fish.
The small basket was also a gravy bomb that spurted out juices if you ate it roughly. No wonder the waitresses were forced to say, “This is our specialty, so please try it” (the way they said it!). (How to say it!).
Surprising myself that I could still fill it up, I also snapped up the bamboo leaf chimaki, roast rice, soba noodles with chicken salt and sauce, shrimp spring rolls, Taiwanese dumplings, and rice with chicken and ginger. I didn’t miss the father sitting next to me overhearing his daughter saying, “That’s a great order! I’m so embarrassed.
The bamboo leaf rolls are more chicken than in the picture, which is a reverse photo deception. The Lu Bei rice seems to be made with aromatic rice and is 100 times tastier than the one I had in Taiwan for about 200 yen. I felt like writing a thank-you letter to Sukairaku, saying that it was the first time I had real roasted rice. The Taiwanese dumplings were a bit thick-skinned, but the spicy and delicious raayu sauce was superb. However, the chicken salt tsuyu soba was good, with a rich chicken broth, but the noodles did not match the broth at all. It has been a long time since I have been able to ruin a dish like this.
I have zero girl power, so I have no interest in mangoes, but I tried the mango pudding after seeing the family next to me refill it 3 times. It is filled with fresh fruit like fresh mangoes with a bang! Looks like the cost is high. I would like to praise the corporate effort of Sukairaku if it has come this far already.
I’m disappointed with myself for giving up after 28 items and 30 dishes.
I’m having a hard time with 27 items. I passed on the panda bean bun and the dango with sesame because there seemed to be no point in eating them, but I tried my best to hold on to the mushroom bun as a story. It really looks like mushrooms, but inside is chocolate cream. Well, that’s to be expected.
I didn’t conquer them all, and the game ended with 28 items. I was reminded that I am a very light eater. I did order xiaolongbao, truffle dumplings, and Peking duck twice.
At the end, as we were leaving the restaurant, we were blocked in the way by a cat on its way back to the kitchen. The waiter smiled and said, “I’m sorry the cat is bothering you,” which made me smile!
The food was good, the waiter was nice, and the cats were soothing! That’s all I can say. I hate to sound like I’m writing a glorified article again, but…. I don’t get a penny from Sukairae.
Interview, text, and photographs： Shigeru Nekota
Born in 1979. Worked as an editor and writer for town magazines, travel books, and recipe books. Currently, as a web writer, he writes on a wide range of topics from decadent food to traditional crafts. He loves to drink despite his weakness, and his life motto is "Sake is best drunk while walking.
Shigeru Nekota's food blog "I love quirky restaurants! https://nekotashigeru.site/