The question I’m constantly asked by friends and family is, “What’s the best part of living in New York?” Without hesitation, one answer comes to mind: the food. New York City is filled with the best restaurants around, ranging from every creation and cuisine you could ever imagine. And you’ll never get sick of any one type because new, unique spots are always popping up on every block.
I had the pleasure of trying Mokyo for dinner this week with my older brother. A cozy spot on Saint Marks Place for Asian-inspired tapas and drinks, Mokyo just opened Feb. 5, and is the sister restaurant of Thursday Kitchen, another East Village Asian eatery. Mokyo blends different elements together, featuring mostly Korean dishes influenced by South American and Spanish flavors.
After being seated, I first noticed the low-key atmosphere of the space. The lighting was dim, the decorations were quaint and the decor was brilliant, giving a modern and industrial feel with exposed brick walls. Although the dining area was small, it was separated from the bar, and gave off a cozy vibe that allowed me to relax and let go of my troubles for the next hour.
Our waitress came by shortly after we were seated, and after explaining a little bit about Mokyo’s story, she recommended that since the dishes are small, we should order two to three per person. Although I would prefer to have my own large-sized entree, I was still excited about the innovative dishes. Because I was with my brother, I figured we were going to feast, so we ordered four different plates: beef tartare, duck fried rice, corn dumplings and the pork jowl.
The dishes came out one at a time, arriving an appropriate amount of time after ordering. The first was the beef tartare, a food I’m a little obsessed with. Mokyo’s version included a delicious beef laid over a thick parmesan cream sauce, sprinkled with green peppers, radishes, macadamia nuts and furikake, a Japanese seasoning. The dish was absolutely wonderful: the meat was tender, but the toppings were crunchy. The taste combined with the opposing textures was extremely satisfying.
Next came the duck fried rice, paired with Asian sausage, cucumber and a black bean sauce. The meal definitely didn’t taste like your typical fried rice; there was something stunning about the two different meat tastes intertwining, but it wasn’t overpowering. The black bean sauce supplemented a salty but tasteful kick to each bite, and the cucumbers were a great refresher, adding juiciness to the already delicious plate.
The third plate ended up being our favorite: the corn dumplings — this dish is to die for. Savory and cheesy, the dumplings were stuffed with fennel and a truffle salsa verde and topped with parmesan cheese. Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds and the taste is out of this world. In fact, I would recommend Mokyo just for this course alone (trust me).
Last but not least was the pork jowl, matched with cauliflower and Kalamata olives, and doused with kabayaki sauce. The pork was phenomenal — perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside, melting in my mouth. The sauce was a wonderful culinary choice, adding a sweetness to the whole meal that made the cauliflower exceptional. This dish was so good that I ate every single olive and I don’t even like olives.
All in all, the food was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten, the ambiance was calming, and we had fantastic service with an attentive waitress. One of my favorite parts? The fact that I didn’t feel overly stuffed walking home. Mokyo is perfect for any type of evening out — great for a date, family dinner or a girls’ night.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Feb. 18, 2020 print edition. Email Addison Aloian at [email protected]