Many LMU students often complain about the stiff and universal dining options on and around campus. However, not many know about the new Ukrainian cafe called “Mom Please” that is located 5 minutes away. This charming café isn’t just a place for delicious food and aromatic coffee; it is a place where many Ukrainian refugees found a taste of home and belonging.
In Los Angeles, a diverse and vibrant city known for its welcoming atmosphere, Ukrainian refugees have found a new home. Many of them have brought with them their rich cultural heritage, including their cuisine and traditions. One such example is “Mom Please Café,” a Ukrainian-owned establishment that serves as both a culinary haven and a cultural hub for the Ukrainian community in Los Angeles.
For instance, a Ukrainian born refugee Maria Rozenblit , often comes to Mom Please to not only eat but to also meet other Ukrainians. Maria remarks that Mom Please is the one solely and ethnically correct Ukrainian cafe in Los Angeles where the recipes are being followed correctly. She states that :” It was very hard”, for her “ to find a cafe where the food would taste like the dishes my grandma used to make when I was little”
The menu offers a delightful exploration of Ukraine’s diverse culinary traditions combining it with an americanised version of some meals. You can find Ukrainian dishes like : Mlyntsi (Crêpes), Syrniki (Farmers Pancakes), Varenyky and Pelmeni (Dumplings), as well as the regular pizzas and salads on their menu. The average meal price is 16-22 dollars per person.
“The first dish I would recommend trying is definitely- borscht. Its rich flavors and vibrant colors tell a story of a resilient culture, and one spoonful will transport you to the heart of Eastern Europe. It has always been my favorite soup and there is a fun saying that a true Ukrainian woman should know how to make it or at least make her man try it once” – says Maria
Borscht is a vibrant soup that reflects centuries of tradition which is made of a combination of ingredients including beets, broth, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and seasonings, often garnished with sour cream.
Mom Please has started as the family business of the mother and her daughter-in-law. Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, over 17,000 Ukrainian refugees have relocated to the Los Angeles region, including Olena Kochetkova, who fled following the loss of her husband in a rocket strike that targeted their bakery in Mariupol.
After moving to LA the family started by preparing Ukrainian dishes in their Brentwood residence and then proceeded to sell these dishes through online platforms, attracting a significant amount of customers through Instagram following which made them want to expand and open up a physical location.
Currently Mom Please is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m and invites and welcomes new customers to try and learn more about Ukrainian food and culture. Mom Please is also planning on hosting different events moving forward as fundraisers to help those fighting in Ukraine.