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Moja Brings South American, Asian Food Together In Westport

The colorful bar at Moja, a South American-Asian fusion restaurant opening Saturday, will be the first thing guests see when they walk into the restaurant. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
From left, Moja owner Tom Linell, Sous Chef Ray Stone and Executive Chef Rick Demers eagerly await opening night. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
Moja, a South American-Asian fusion restaurant, will open Saturday in Westport. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
The Moja fish--the restaurant's logo--is painted on the bathroom doors. If you look closely, you can see the word "Moja" spelled out. Also, the Moja fish is carrying a kone, one of the restaurant's signature dishes. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari

WESTPORT, Conn. – Awaken your taste buds this weekend at Moja , a new restaurant where Executive Chef Rick Demers will blend South American and Asian cuisine to deliver something he promises you’ve never had before — at least not in Westport.

The restaurant, opening Saturday, specializes in Columbian-style arepas. These grilled corn cakes are filled with mozzarella cheese and topped with meat or seafood. The menu offers 10 different arepa plates, like the short rib arepa, which includes marinated eggplant, truffle peppercorn sauce, enoki mushrooms and crispy onions. Or you could try the salmon seviche arepa, made with marinated salmon, wasabi peas, kim chi and avocado. There’s even a make-your-own option.

Another Moja specialty is kones — temaki sushi-inspired wraps filled with your choice of meat or seafood. There are a variety of kones to choose from, like the Peking duck kone, which is filled with braised duck, scallions, Hoisin sauce and marinated eggplant. For seafood lovers, Moja offers a paella kone, made with shrimp, salmon, mussels, chorizo sausage, chicken, ancient grains, wasabi peas and red peppers.

In addition to the meat options, kones can be wrapped in a sesame scallion, soy or seaweed wrap, all of which are gluten free. The menu also includes a variety of “snacks” like smoked salmon potato pancakes, unique salads, stews, noodle bowls and desserts.

“We could have easily opened a burger joint or hot wings restaurant, but we wanted to do something different,” said Demers, a Danbury resident who trained at the Culinary Institute of America . “And this is different. Where else can you find South American-Asian fusion in Westport?”

Moja also specializes in infused sakes, which are made on site, Demers said. There are about 11 different infused sakes, including caramel clementine, cucumber mint, pineapple and the spicy geisha, which is infused with chili pepper and mango, Demers said.

If you’ve never tried sake, you can order the “flight of 4” and pick four different sakes to sample.

“We really want to encourage people to try it,” said owner Tom Linell, a Weston resident.

There also will be organic sake on tap, something no other restaurant in the state offers, Demers said. Additionally, Moja offers a full-service bar. There also will be a tea service offered in the afternoons, Demers said.

The restaurant, at 12 Wilton Road overlooking the Saugatuck River, will be open every day for lunch and dinner.

"I really think it's going to be a hit," Linell said. "Our menu is so unique and so varied, I think it will keep people coming back."

To make reservations, call 203-557-4856.

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