When you’re craving Japanese food, salad may not leap to mind. But with Momo Dressing, entrepreneur Masaki Momose brings fresh flavors from his native Japan to Brooklyn — it all but guarantees that a bowl of greens will be your next meal.
You may even choose to forgo the salad. Momo’s ginger, sesame, basil and shiso (a Japanese herb in the mint family) dressings boast such fresh, bold taste, you’ll feel as if you could lick them off a spoon.
Using produce from the farmers market across from his apartment, Momose started blending salad dressings at his first New York home in Kips Bay. After befriending the market’s organizers and persuading them to let him set up a small table, he was soon selling out of his carrot ginger dressing nearly every weekend.
That was in 2010, shortly after Momose moved to the U.S. on a student visa and started English classes. Since then, his operation has expanded to a commercial kitchen in Sunset Park and his dressings are sold in six area farmers markets, plus Smorgasburg and grocery stores including Whole Foods.
The ingredient list for Momo products is short, primarily fruit, vegetables, soy sauce and rice vinegar. The dressings also have little to no oil; this allows the brightness of the other ingredients to stand out. Plus they are thick enough to double as dipping sauces or hearty marinades. Prices vary by location but the eight-ounce bottles generally cost around $7.
Momo has one driving principle: “It has to be delicious,” says Momose, 35, who worked in restaurants after graduating from high school in Hiratsuka, a city along Japan’s Sagami Bay.
Momose and his wife, Yukimi, do everything, from blending the dressings to bottling and hand-labeling them, with the help of one full-time employee. At this point, Momose doesn’t have an expansion plan. He says he’s more concerned with getting current customers to buy more of his products.
But the company has gained enough recognition to spark a partnership with another champion of fresh, local veggies: Brooklyn’s hydroponic farm Gotham Greens, whose basil is found in Momo’s basil dressing.
It’s the taste of Japan, by way of Brooklyn.