You’ll rarely see press mention of Momo Sushi Shack, perennially under the radar although it exists in plain sight, in shadowed cattycorner to the elaborately graffiti’d, ever-expanding Roberta’s compound. And that’s just how owner Phil Gilmour prefers it, letting patrons find their own way to his Spicy Mc Bomb— ping-pong balls of tacky sushi rice, topped with flaps of tuna, squiggles of mayo, and birds nests of crisped kataifi — without much in the way of prodding from the media. And for the last three some-odd years, it’s all appeared to have worked out pretty darn well.
It’s the same tack he’s taken at his new Bushwick spot, Hi Hello, which slipped without fanfare into Mazelle’s vacated Starr Street space last April. So you’ll be forgiven for being completely oblivious to its existence—just as we hope Gilmour will forgive us for this unsought piece of press. Because just as with Momo, his quiet confidence proves well earned; Hi Hello serves contemplatively constructed sandwiches requiring zero puffing up, by way of purposely posed Instagram food porn or aggressive PR missives. And though each is comprised of high-quality ingredients, they’re also easily financed without brandishing your credit card—starting with the $7 pan con tomate, featuring juicy heirlooms and 24-month-aged Newsom Kentucky ham; and montaditos, red rags of translucent tenderloin carpaccio, smooth manchego, and starchy petals of artichoke. There’s also an Icelandic hot dog ($5) made with lean pebbles of duck, and a Martin’s potato bun-cradled, pickle-paved cheeseburger for $11, fantastically classic in every way, save that the patty’s formed from well-marbled slabs of wagyu.
You’ll want to order a draft of gingery Left Hand Good Juju to fan the flames of the Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich, snaked with sticky trails of spicy-sweet pepper jelly. Although when it comes to floury wheels of ciabatta piled with house roasted beef and goat cheese, we appreciated the inherent interplay of hot and cool, between refreshing spools of cucumber, and the fermented, fiery funk of hyper-colored kimchi. At $14, ribbons of smoked duck breast moistened with nubby walnut pate—based on the pomegranate-studded Persian stew called fesenjn—is the most dearly-priced item; but keep in mind that all sandwiches include a side, each more meal-worthy than the last. Rotating options include cold honeydew gazpacho, mizuna salad tossed with fried shallots, or a garam masala aioli-accented wedge of tortilla española, fit with ruby rows of thinly sliced beets, as luminous as stained glass.
So for one of Bushwick’s best low-key, eminently affordable restaurant bets, be sure to pay a visit to Hi Hello. Just don’t tell Gilmour we sent you.
247 Starr Street, Bushwick