The Bull's Eye

Restaurant Review: Mokkoji Hot Pot

Kristen Sanchez, Asst. Feature Editor

 

While there are countless Asian cuisine restaurants in Rowland Heights, it is often hard to find places worth a second visit. However, Mokkoji Hot Pot stands out among neighboring competition with its lively environment and satisfying food portions.

My family and I arrived around 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday, and the restaurant was fairly empty. The whole staff waved, loudly greeted us upon entering and happily encouraged us to pick a table. Once seated, I was surprised to notice the trendy atmosphere–there was a playlist of the latest hip hop songs and Taylor Swift tunes and the walls were covered with chalk art, doodles and creative displays of their specials.

Though Mokkoji is a small joint, it fully utilizes its small floor space with sleek tables and seating with a neat clean appearance. The simple ceiling lights and sushi bar seating also made the restaurant feel more open. Overall, it gave off a modern industrial vibe, perfect for those who want to take appealing pictures for Instagram.

The servers were very accommodating and even took the time to explain what hot pot was since my family and I were new to this particular cuisine. The menu seemed a little confusing to us at first, and we didn’t know what exactly to get and pair together. However, after the waiters made helpful recommendations, my father ordered the $18.99 tonkotsu broth with angus beef, which comes with vegetables and purple rice, and my mother and I ordered the $17.99 chicken; hers was with the original house broth and mine was with miso broth.

Unlike most hot pot restaurants, which are all you can eat style, this menu offered a wide variety of sushi and unlimited rice and vegetables for an additional two dollars. Though we didn’t choose to order unlimited rice and vegetables, we did get an order of sashimi and salmon rolls to go with our hot pot.

Despite the fact that there were only two other customers in the restaurant, our food took over a half hour to arrive. However, we quickly overlooked this when we saw the neat presentation of the food and began cooking our meats. The thin slices of chicken on my plate looked delicately placed and seasoned. The marinated cuts had a tangy spice blend seasoning and the broth felt light, clean and not too greasy.

The house soup base by itself was bland and seasoned with mushrooms, but came with ponzu and sesame sauce for extra flavor. The carefully seasoned chicken in my bowl was tender and came in a generous amount along with ground chicken. The miso broth did not give off as strong of a flavor as it would in typical miso soup and was a little watered down.  It did however, allow for more taste of the seasoned chicken along with the different sauces. It was delicious and had a tangy taste that went extremely well with the sesame coating paste the waiters prepared for us beforehand.

My father’s bowl also came with a plentiful amount of meat, and he raved that his beef had almost no fat on it and was very flavorful. Though we all agreed that the tonkotsu soup broth was not the meal’s strong point, the meats, vegetables and sauces certainly made up for it. Additionally, we loved the purple rice since it added more substance to our meal while balancing out the flavor of the meat.

Although the sashimi and salmon rolls tasted just fine and met our expectations, we had trouble finishing them since we underestimated the large portions of our hot pot.

While our meal’s did come out to being a bit more on the pricey side–about $20 per person and took a long time coming to us, we deemed it very reasonable for the amount of food given and the helpfulness of the waiters.  Though this was our first time at a Japanese hot pot restaurant, my family and I will definitely be returning since Mokkoji set the bar high for our future hot pot endeavours with a flavorful, comforting and filling meal.

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