Sushi Momoyama, Concord CA
Hidden off one of the main drags in Concord is a tiny sushi place that has been around for 12 years in the same location. We had never heard of Momoyama until we searched through the web, looking for a sushi restaurant with good reviews so that we could compare and see for ourselves. Our verdict: no wonder this place is popular!
Zach had tried hot, sweet sake before, and August only knows sake from going bombing once in college. This one, cold and dry, was a delight and easy to drink. As our waiter David described it, “Sweet sake is for those who are just beginning with sake.” This here is for those in the know.
The tempura appetizer here was cooked really well, crispy but not overdone, yet cooked thoroughly enough that there was no gummy batter amidst the broccoli. The shrimp were juicy and flavorful, and the dipping sauce had a mere essence of saltiness, not strong at all. We liked the wide variety of vegetables, also.
We each got a traditional salad and miso soup. Now that we have this blog and we take pictures, Zach noticed for the first time what miso soup does if you let it settle. Kind of neat, eh? The sesame dressing for the salad was a little different than what we’re used to (but in a good way), as it had a touch of peanut in the mix.
The baked scallop roll is essentially a California roll (crab and avocado), topped with scallops and then baked in a little foil boat. Baking makes the rice softer and stickier, so these were like warm morsels of seafood goodness. The rolls themselves were mild, so the sauce drizzles on the side added some oomph.
The Oh Baby roll is a deep fried scallop with avocado over rice and topped with a “special sauce.” Zach loved these because the scallops were tender, moist, and succulent despite being deep fried. There was a nice texture contrast between the creamy avocado, the crispy juicy scallop, and the sticky rice. The special sauce was both tangy and savory.
Elvis, the owner and master sushi chef, sent us a couple of plates to sample. The first surprise was this no-name roll with seared salmon. You can tell this is one of his specialties that he is very proud of, and justly so. The salmon was only slightly seared, resulting in a butter-like texture that melted in the mouth. At least three different sauces added so many flavor layers it was a journey with each bite! We know there was seared salmon, shrimp tempura, crab, and avocado, and we probably should have looked more, but it was too good to dissect, we just had to eat it.
Elvis’s version of a jalapeño popper is on the appetizer list as Spicy Cracker. Jalapeño slices are deep fried with avocado, cream cheese, crab, salmon, seared tuna, and ponzu sauce. Crispy outside with some of the most phenomenal sushi-grade seafood mixed together make these memorable for flavor and spiciness. Both August and Zach like jalapeño poppers, but this was all for Zach because it was too spicy for August. At first he said, “The taste is great with not too much spice,” but then his face turned red as the heat crept up. These Japanese poppers are something worth returning for on their own merit.
The driveway is practically hidden behind a cafe and you can only turn in from one direction, so don’t let your GPS fool you in getting there. The dining area is small and lots of people know about the quality here, so anticipate some wait time. Once seated, you’ll be impressed by the food and the service. Everyone was hustling tonight, with every table and counter space occupied by happy diners.