Mokbar, how I love thee, let me count the ways. First, I get to delight in a stroll through Chelsea Market en route to my dinner. Buy some new jewelry at Artists & Fleas, meander into cheese & seafood shops, dodge a few tourists, and then I am in the alcove of the market where Mokbar resides. Oh, the Korean delicacies that await my mouth. There is a bustling counter space where patrons can sit and watch the team cook up all their meal, which I adore. The owner of the restaurant, Esther Choi, can always be found there. She is small in stature, but a powerhouse in the kitchen. Zagat named her a “Zagat 30 under 30” NYC Culinary Rockstar and she more than lives up to the name.
They specialize in traditional Korean soups with fresh Japanese ramen noodles. You can choose from brothy or saucy noodles, but obviously I choose both #fatkidproblems. Most of the dishes contain gochujang. Never had it before? It’s a traditional Korean red chili paste made with dried chili peppers, fermented soybeans, & glutinous rice. I highly recommend you go pick some up if you’ve never tried cooking with this wonderfully complex ingredient. It’s definitely available at the market.
Everything that pours out of the tiny kitchen is complex & exciting. I’d like to say that it transports me back to Seoul but this is better than anything I ever ate there (sorry Seoul). Their ho’ cakes might be the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth (I’m talking to you too, ex boyfriends). They are crispy fried buns with heavenly pork belly filling, served with kimchi pear puree. The bulgogi sliders are crazy flavorful, the wings are meaty and sticky, and everywhere you look…more kimchi! I’ve been here 10 times and I’d go 10 more. Here’s what we had:
RAMEN Mokbar Classic- pork broth. braised pork. triple seasonal vegetable Kimchi - kimchi bacon broth. braised pork. stewed kimchi. scallion. Vegan Miso -kombu shiitake doenjang broth. tofu. triple seasonal vegetable. crispy potato. Marinated ribeye- Triple seasonal kimchi. Poached egg. Scallion. Spicy Tofu- pork and tofu sauce. spicy garlic paste. minced pork. poached egg. scallion
Halmoni Dumplings- ground pork, zucchini, cabbage, tofu, kimchi, garlic chive relish
Bulgogi Sliders- Mini marinated ribeye, mozzarella cheese, ssamjang mayo, cucumber kimchi, brioche bun