Image Credit: Ong Wende
“Moo” in Thai is “pork” while “kata” loosely refers to the “skillet”. It is the brainchild of combining the steamboat and grill. Its dome-shaped grill has a soup trough placed over charcoal cinders.
One theory claims that Mookata came about from Korea, when it was being divided into North and South Korea. During the war, food was severely scarce. The famished Korean soldiers found raw dog meat and cooked it on their heated steel helmets to survive. Another story is about the Thais and how they became aware of delicious Korean barbeques. Thais delight in eating sukiyaki beef and enjoy a soupy dish as they dine out1. Thai restaurant owners adopted the Korean barbeque concept and added a soup trough to it and Mookata was born. Mookata has been a rampant hit in Thailand for nearly 10 years2.
The Mookata trend caught on in Singapore since early 20143. Numerous restaurants and local coffee shops, such as Mookalicious and Huay Kwang Thai Kitchen4, offer two different dining options. One comes as a fixed set of pork collar, pork belly, chicken sausages and leafy vegetables while the other is a buffet-style of free-flow pork, beef, chicken, seafood and vegetables. The uniqueness of Mookata lies in its comforting soupy broth accompanied by special homemade sweet and spicy dipping sauces.
Mookata involves greasing the grill with pork lard before placing the raw meat on it. Butter is typically used in barbeques. With Mookata, pork lard is preferred as it adds fragrance when grilling the meats, making them tender and charred to perfection. The pork lard will melt over the hot grill. As it produces oil, it drips from the top of the dome into the broth area. The broth that is served when consuming Mookata is usually simmered down for at least five hours, using chicken and pork bones. When diners add chicken, seafood and vegetables into the soup, the broth becomes enhanced with rich and bold flavors from the mixture of the hotpot ingredients and meaty juices oozing from the grill.
The grilling of the tender meats and sipping of delicious soupy broth are just a few of the reasons why Mookata is unique, as it marries the concept of the steamboat and grill.
1 The Straits Times (2016). From Cheese Tarts to Mookata: 11 Food Fads That Whetted Singaporean Appetites. [online] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/from-cheese-tarts-to-mookata-11-food-fads-that-whetted-singaporean-appetites
2 Makansutra (2014). New Udon: Is Mookata Korean Inspired? [online] Available at:http://www.makansutra.com/stories/3/1227/NewUdonIs MookataKoreaninspired
3 The Straits Times (2016). From Cheese Tarts to Mookata: 11 Food Fads That Whetted Singaporean Appetites. [online] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/from-cheese-tarts-to-mookata-11-food-fads-that-whetted-singaporean-appetites
4 SethLui.com (2014). 10 Best Thai Mookata Restaurants in Singapore. [online] Available at: http://sethlui.com/best-thai-mookata-restaurants-singapore/