Momo’wich is now called Momo Canteen
There are a number of independent little eating places around the Barbican area in addition to the usual Pret A Mangers, EATs and Subways. Momo’wich is a small modern cafe in Carthusian Street that sells South East Asian street food and aims to deliver ‘authentic Malaysian and Thai flavours.’ You will find amongst other things, Malaysian beef rendang,Thai green chicken curry, soup noodles including curry laksa, steamed sandwich buns, chicken satay and Vietnamese summer rolls on the menu. I’ve noticed bánh mi making an appearance as a special. Vegetarians can order butternut squash Thai red curry, tofu soup noodles, vegetarian spring rolls, tofu summer rolls and vegetarian steamed sandwich buns.
Momo’wich is aimed at the weekday lunchtime market. It is open Monday – Friday, 11.30am- 4.00pm and is closed on Bank Holidays. Not surprisingly, there is usually a queue at lunchtime although it does move fairly quickly. There are a few tables to eat in but the majority of customers takeaway. The style is self service – the dishes are already prepared and you order at the counter. There are three types of main meal available – the lunch box served with rice or salad, steamed sandwich bun sets and soup noodles – and side orders such as spring rolls and Thai fish cakes. Drinks include various teas and East Asian canned drinks.
The soup noodles and laksa are available with chicken or prawn or tofu – I tried the prawn laksa. Curry laksa is one of my favourite foods – I love the aromatic spicy creamy coconutty broth with rice noodles. I’m pleased to say that the Momo’wich’ laksa was pretty good and hit the spot. The broth was a nice shade of orange with an authentic oily sheen on the top and packed a good spicy punch of flavour. There was also a good portion of rice noodles, a not too stingy number of king prawns (I think I had around five), some hard boiled egg , a few slices of fish cake and some fresh vegetables and red chilli. I thought it was a decent and authentic laksa and at £6 (at time of writing), the price was fair.
I have also tried the vegetarian steamed sandwich buns – a steamed sandwich bun is also known as Taiwanese bao, a fluffy steamed disc of bread. I went for a set which comprised of a bun, salad, vegetable mini spring rolls and a small pot of sweet chilli dipping sauce. This cost £5. The non veggie sets also get a chicken dumpling – veggie dumplings are not on the menu alas so extra spring rolls are included on the veggie set instead. I do realise that South East Asian cuisine is not naturally vegetarian friendly and that options can be limited for true veggies. Sadly, the steamed sandwich buns failed to reach the heights of the laksa. The actual bun was fine but the filling was rather meagre – a few small pieces of bland tofu with no sauce that I can remember. However, I can imagine that the meat fillings such as beef rendang and cha siu barbecue pork would be better. The vegetable spring rolls were pleasant enough though. I was also hungry again after about half an hour! So not a great veggie dish 😦 They just needed to marinate the tofu more or serve in a Thai green sauce (for example) and include more in the filling.
Despite my disappointment at the steamed sandwich bun, I would still recommend Momo’wich. I have been told by my meat eating friends, that the Malaysian chicken curry, Thai green curry and beef rendang are delicious and like the laksa, great renditions of classic East Asian street food. There is another branch near Aldgate East that has a larger menu including nasi goreng and wraps – this branch has the same open hours as the Carthusian Street branch. The limited opening hours seems a shame – if you happen to be near the Barbican or Aldgate East between 11.30am and 4pm on a weekday (but not Bank Holiday), then you could certainly pay a visit!
9, Carthusian Street
London. EC1M 6EB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7377 6409
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 11.30 – 16.30. Closed Bank Holidays
Nearest underground station: Barbican
Typical cost per person including drinks: Up to £10