2014 | Dine

First Taste: MOMO Chicken + Jazz

"There's a lot more to this menu than fried chicken"

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Andrew Metcalf

The people: The background and history of this place has always been a bit of a mystery, as the owner, Thomas Kim, has preferred to keep his privacy.

The place: Loosely put, it’s a combination of industrial chic and old time rock and roll. The silver, black and metallic color scheme gives the place a hipster look, while glass shelves in the vestibule are stacked with yesteryear radios, fans, typewriters, movie projectors and Coke bottles. A baby boomer-leaning mix of framed record albums and covers decorate the walls—Beatles, Ray Charles, Elton John, Mamas and the Papas, Joan Baez, the Doobie Brothers.     

The food: It’s nice to have a source for Korean fried chicken in Bethesda, even if it’s not as good as Bonchon, as several Yelpers have lamented. Still, it has that amazing non-greasy, crackly armor that gives the double-fried poultry an edge over the traditional American version. Like Bonchon, the chicken is available brushed with a soy garlic or spicy sauce; at MOMO, the spicy version is pretty manageable and may be too meek for hot heads. Just stick with the wings or drumsticks, as the breasts are super thin and skinless, which kind of defeats the purpose.  

There’s a lot more to this menu than fried chicken, however. A large roster of Korean appetizers, soup, salads, entrees and rice and noodle dishes includes some respectable renditions of the traditional staples—a nicely browned and crepe-like seafood pancake, a decent bibimbap despite being skimpy on the beef, and a terrific pork bulgogi wrap that will make heat seekers happy.    

The bottom line: Welcome ethnic addition in a very cool space.  

4862 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, 240-483-0801, www.momofc.com; Korean fried chicken, which can be ordered in small, medium, large and extra-large portions, ranges from $9 to $30; entrees $10 to $17.