Raleigh Mag Features Mofu Shoppe

IT’S NOT EVERY DAY that you stumble upon an Asian restaurant with an Italian-American chef whipping up pho and dumplings in the kitchen. But at downtown Raleigh’s MOFU Shoppe, it’s just part of the routine for executive chef Matt Greiner. MOFU, meaning “more fortune,” is the crowning glory of Sonny Lin and Sophia Woo, two Taiwanese Raleighites who you may recognize as the season six champions of the Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race.”

After investing their $50,000 winnings into a brick-and-mortar restaurant at City Market, Lin and Woo devised an eclectic, uniquely Asian menu that incorporates both their Taiwanese-American backgrounds along with influences from Greiner, who was born and bred on Long Island and has an impressive resume in the food industry.

“The authenticity is what MOFU’s about,” says Greiner, formerly the executive chef at the Italian restaurant Vivace. “It’s authentic to the ladies and the food.” Lin and Woo, or the ladies as Greiner refers to them, grew up with Taiwanese parents and have lived for the majority of their lives in the southern United States, though they have traveled to Taiwan as well. Woo takes pride in her second-generation Taiwanese upbringing, as she says it has allowed her to become fluent in food here in America as well as in the food of her parents’ culture.

Greiner, who MOFU originally hired as a sous chef, took over the reins as head chef three months ago. Since then, he’s helped grow the restaurant and the menu into the one-of-a-kind establishment it is today. “I’m always impressed by how much knowledge Matt has,” Lin says. “He brings a level of energy to the kitchen that I don’t feel like just anybody could do. I don’t think that’s replaceable.”

Lin and Woo incorporate their knowledge of food and preparation techniques that they’ve learned from their mothers and grandmothers into MOFU’s diverse dishes, which get a pair of fresh eyes from Greiner. He takes their concepts in new and interesting directions; this helps keep MOFU’s offerings fresh and dynamic while Greiner gets to learn a trick or two. “Every day I learn something new,” he says. “They’re teaching me so much more than I ever knew about Asian food—the flavors, the combinations. It’s just been mind-blowing to me, and it’s helping me expand my palate and my cooking techniques.”

To curate the dishes on MOFU’s menu, the trio comes up with different concepts and ideas to try out in the kitchen and present as finished items. This process prompts a discussion of what works and what doesn’t, and the chefs re-evaluate the dishes’ different ingredients and play off of each others’ opinions in order to reach a final product. They strive to create dishes that are genuine to the team and reflective of their different backgrounds.

“We’ve built this place on who we are,” Lin says. “The inspiration we draw from is from our lives, our peers, our mentors and our teammates, and that’s what makes it different.” ...
— Lauren Kruchten - Raleigh Magazine
Brent Woodcox