Mokyo in East Village

I was blown away by the food at Mokyo, a Korean / Asian small plates restaurant in the East Village. I wasn’t prepared to like it so much. In fact, I was ready to write it off as one of those dime-a-dozen East Village bars that cater to the young drinking crowd, where trendy Instagrammable drinks take priority over really good food. I was so wrong. I loved everything I ate–flavor AND style are prioritized here–and I can truly say it is one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

Let’s talk about those drinks. It is Friday night in the East Village, and Mokyo knows its audience. Dinner starts with a free shot of sake for everyone. Then came the cocktails, served in these glow-in-the-dark Capri-Sun like pouches. It was a little gimmicky, and totally done for social media, but I liked the flavors of my makgeolli mojito. It was mellow and smooth, and not too sweet.

Mokyo’s signature dish is the corn dumpling, and you’ll see so many raves about them on reviews. This was one of the few times where those gushing Yelp reviews were spot on. We ate the first order of dumplings so fast and then ordered another. The second one disappeared just as quickly. The only flaw is that the portions were small.

I also loved the noodles, which was this interesting hybrid of carbonara meets Asian chili oil, a modern day fusion dan dan noodle. Another favorite was the cauliflower in gochujang glaze. Fried cauliflower, vegan General Tso’s style, is all the rage, and Mokyo’s does not disappoint. They do not suffer from common pitfalls of heavy breading or drowning in overly sweet sauce.

The meat dishes were not as memorable as the vegetable and seafood ones. We’re splitting hairs here, since the steak, for instance, was perfectly fine, but if I had to choose between the steak and the corn dumplings, without a doubt I’d choose the latter. I did like those oxtail spring rolls, though. Sometimes places can skimp on the spring roll filling, it can be all vegetable filler and not enough of the value-add ingredients. Not at Mokyo. You knew there was some meat inside.

Chef Kay Hyun’s cooking really resonates because it’s comfort food done really well. Everyone loves a bowl of noodles, but Hyun’s is the one you really want. The flavors are elevated and restrained, which I also appreciated. It can be really tempting to dunk things in gochujang or kimchee sauce but she doesn’t do that. That can make the origins of her food ambiguous, but one thing that’s clear is that it’s very, very good.

109 St. Marks Pl (between 1st Ave and Ave A)
New York, NY 10009
(646) 850-0650