While London has an abundance of restaurants offering cuisines from Italian and Indian to burgers and BBQ, if there’s one variety that definitely hasn’t been covered, it’s Japanese-Peruvian. Enter Mommi: a new eatery in Clapham that has taken on the task of bringing this fusion to the city. You might think that it seems like a bit of a strange combination – the Japanese and Peruvian cultures are undeniably different. However, when you consider that the largest Japanese population outside of Japan resides in South America, it no longer seems quite so bizarre. Even better news is that Mommi’s food menu is 100% gluten free and has received the big stamp of approval from Coeliac UK, who’ve accredited it as being so.
The concept is simple. Fish, meat and veg dishes are grouped into set menu columns, then ordered by a minimum of two people (there’s also a veg set menu for all you vegetarians out there). Or, if you want to mix and match dishes, each is individually priced so you can do so. This is what my partner and I decided to do, but only after much deliberation – everything sounded so tempting, I’d have been very happy with whatever ended up in front of me.
We prepped our tastebuds with a bowl of steamed salty edamame and some exotic cocktails – my passion fruit virgin Pachamama was light and zesty, while my partner’s brilliantly named Machu Pistachu was based on a smooth blend of pistachio-infused rye whiskey (although this drink isn’t gluten free – fine for him but one for myself and other coeliacs to avoid).
Dishes arrive as they’re ready, and the Yakitori Salmon was more than I could have hoped for – the melt-in-the-mouth fish was beautiful, while the accompanying black sesame seeds gave a nice contrasting crunch. Our waiter recommended the Flame-Seared Tuna Tataki, and it was easy to see why – the thinly slice squares, eaten with the spring onion, tomato and truffle oil, created a sensation of flavours and textures. To balance out the fishiness, the Flame-Seared Courgette and Mushroom did just the trick, with the hearty slices encompassing a delightful smokiness.
These plates were a hard act to follow, but the bigger main dishes didn’t disappoint – words cannot express how much I loved the Nikkei Tempura Fish and Chips. Four fish bites comprised delectably flaky fish in a golden tempura batter – they were so wonderfully light, it was like eating little clouds. These were served with delicious cassava fries, which had a fluffy interior and crisp casing.
For the first of the two meat dishes, we had the Slow-Braised Pork Belly Bites. I’m not usually a huge fan of pork belly but am glad I took a punt; the perfectly sized cubes were succulent and bursting with flavour and the chili ponzu gave the dish both a touch of heat and a zesty kick. Meanwhile, the tender meat of the Chicken Pachamanca was complemented nicely by the crunchy quinoa topping and the zingy, creamy lime sauce drizzled on top.
It’s not often that, as a coeliac, I get to eat one of my favourite desserts, so ordered the Passionfruit, Yuzu and Ginger Cheesecake with Almond and Coconut Macaroon to finish the meal. After the innovative main dishes, it was no surprise to see it presented in a jar and a deconstructed, upside down format. The fruity sauce at the bottom was sweet and moreish, the generous cheese centre smooth and creamy, and the thin crumbly biscuit topping gave a good bite without weighing down the dessert’s lightness – one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time.
The interior of the restaurant is chic and industrial, and the friendly staff, cosy booths and lively music create a welcoming, relaxed vibe. This, alongside the inventive, enticing and varied menu makes the entire dining experience here one to remember. Forget Mommi, this place is totally Nom-mi – and if two culture clashes create a fusion as wonderful as this, then we all definitely need to be mixing things up more.