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new izakaya opening in k-town

bigjeff Oct 15, 2009 01:57 PM

not sure what style it will be but i saw workers installing a second-sign for a new place called "izakaya-moku"; not sure if it is any relation to this place:

http://www.izakaya-moku.com/

This is above chung-moo-ro. will double-check again today.

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  1. h
    hungry4goodfood RE: bigjeff Dec 18, 2009 03:35 PM

    After passing by 32nd St, Korea town for few months, Izakaya Moku sign was finally on... I asked the manager and she said they're no relations to izakaya's in Japan.
    This place's website is http://www.izakayamoku.com.

    This place interior design is very well done, simple and modern w/ hints of Japanese flavor.
    The menu has diversity of Japanese pub style of food like Yakitori, Okomoyaki, grilled fishes etc. But Moku also has dishes sashimi and ttataki(Japanese version of seared dhishes) well as wide range of salads. Prices were very reasonable and food tastes were deep and rich.

    34 Replies
    1. re: hungry4goodfood
      bigjeff RE: hungry4goodfood Dec 18, 2009 06:00 PM

      you also saw the ground floor place, Hana-Haru (or vice versa?) down the block? looks very drinky but I like the decor as well; looks like it will be opening soon. some ktown turnover!

      1. re: bigjeff
        h
        hungry4goodfood RE: bigjeff Dec 20, 2009 04:48 PM

        in K-town, people usually don't drink on 1st floors. I guess it has to do with certain comfort level, including myself. That's why 1st floors retails are dominated by restaurants and 2nd and above floors are dominated by bars and karaokes.

        1. re: hungry4goodfood
          bigjeff RE: hungry4goodfood Feb 10, 2010 05:57 AM

          makes a lot of sense; first floor haru-hana says "pub" but it really looks restaurant-y.

      2. re: hungry4goodfood
        f
        Foodaholic RE: hungry4goodfood Feb 9, 2010 11:36 PM

        I was pleasantly surprised at the place - though most of the folks there were not Japanese clientele (but rather Korean) the food turned out to be pretty good. Prices in this part of town are always going to be a little more steeper than the village of course, but for the price it's considered quality. I could see myself for repeat visits easily, especially if I'm not in the mood to head down to the east village.

        1. re: Foodaholic
          janethepain RE: Foodaholic Feb 10, 2010 05:29 AM

          I'm going to guess that it's run by Koreans since there are a handful of Korean drinking-food dishes on the menu

          1. re: janethepain
            ChiefHDB RE: janethepain Feb 10, 2010 05:33 AM

            Wandered in a few weeks ago, it was pretty good and not too expensive. Had some really good squid fritters and a couple bottles of sochu and a yakitori platter. No stinkers. I might go back, but it's hard to pull myself away from korean fried chicken or the better izakayas further north.

          2. re: Foodaholic
            bigjeff RE: Foodaholic Feb 10, 2010 05:56 AM

            i love to hate on the VV; her observation that the joint is full of japanese, hahahaha:

            http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

            1. re: bigjeff
              Silverjay RE: bigjeff Feb 10, 2010 08:20 AM

              Yeah, for some reason spikey-haired Asians always get pegged as Japanese. I guess that's like assuming only Americans wear blue jeans.?.?...

              I have no special insight or knowledge of K-town other than as a frequent patron, but I seriously would be surprised for a Japanese owned or run business to suddenly set up shop on that strip on 32nd.

              Anyway, the glossy menu of Haruhana, which I perused the other day, was pretty comprehensive. I'm interested in nabe (hot pot) dishes that might be good at either of these new places. I'd be less thrilled with trying the sashimi. Hmm, sashimi, squid fritters, okonomiyaki, and yakitori...

              1. re: Silverjay
                l
                Lau RE: Silverjay Feb 10, 2010 10:28 AM

                I went there twice with my gf. To be clear its definitely run by koreans, the staff is korean as are most of the clientele.

                We tried a few things that ranged from bad to decent. The menu sort of suffers from having too much on it (yakitori, a ton of salads, noodle soups like udon, some korean dishes like pudae chigae, chicken wings, sashimi etc etc), overall while the place is nice we didn't really like the food:
                - curry rice: we had this at lunch, this was unmemorable. the curry sauce was sort of bland. The cutlet itself was okay, but nothing special
                - hwe du bap (basically chirashi): this was awful, the fish was so cold b/c it was frozen befre and i think some pieces were still frozen in the middle; i ended up having to put a ton of the gochujang sauce (its actually gochujang and vinegar mixed together) to make it edible. i'd imagine any of their sashmi is going to be similarly bad
                - oden (fishcakes and vegetables in broth): this was interesting, it was weird b/c the oden broth was semi-spicy, ive never had oden broth that was spicy before, it was also a bit sweet. Wasn't bad, just different. The fishcakes etc were fine no the best ive had by anymeans but fine, probably frozen before, but they tasted ok.
                - spicy wings: these were interesting they were sort of like the wings at 3rd floor (although those are much better) in that they took a drumstick and re-constituted the meat around it and then fried it with a spicy glaze. The meat was fine, reasonably tender although the glaze was a bit too salty for me

                overall, the place is sort of whatever

                1. re: Lau
                  bigjeff RE: Lau Feb 10, 2010 02:28 PM

                  ever had the curry and chicken cutlet over rice from woorijip? how they manage to extract all the flavor out of it is beyond me.

                  1. re: Lau
                    Silverjay RE: Lau Feb 10, 2010 03:28 PM

                    Your experience sort of confirmed what my Spidey Sense told me from the street.

                    1. re: Silverjay
                      l
                      Lau RE: Silverjay Feb 10, 2010 04:06 PM

                      i sort of knew i was walking into a bear trap, but sometimes you need to take one for the team

                      1. re: Lau
                        bigjeff RE: Lau Feb 10, 2010 06:20 PM

                        appreciate it!

                    2. re: Lau
                      s
                      steakies RE: Lau Feb 11, 2010 08:54 AM

                      ditto, this place kinda sucks. if you were to blind-fold someone and have them taste the food, every dish is unmistakenly "korean" in taste, and shabby korean food at that.

                      1. re: Lau
                        squid kun RE: Lau Feb 12, 2010 11:04 AM

                        >overall, the place is sort of whatever

                        Yeah, that's my take too. Funny, the tako "salad" had the same problem as your hwe: nearly frozen. I wasn't in a hurry so I worked on sake and edamame until it defrosted. Still, nothing special.

                        Edited: Wait a sec, you meant Haru Hana, right? I was talking about Moku. Maybe they have a common freezer ;)

                        Also, anyone notice a new second-floor sake bar going in on the same side of 32nd closer to 5th Ave.? I stuck my head in there a week or two ago. The place wasn't ready yet. I heard a couple guys speaking Korean, so I'm guessing it's a Korean-run Japanese place like Moku and Haru Hana.

                        -----
                        Izakaya Moku
                        10 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                        Haruhana
                        28 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                    3. re: bigjeff
                      j
                      Jackaroo RE: bigjeff Feb 11, 2010 06:03 AM

                      Huh, sorry you love to hate.

                      But if you read the piece, you'll see that nowhere do I say that the "spiky haired youths" are Japanese, nor do I say the place is Japanese-run. What I do say is that it's a Japanese-style izakaya that also serves Korean dishes.

                      1. re: Jackaroo
                        s
                        small h RE: Jackaroo Feb 11, 2010 06:35 AM

                        I've nothing against your article, but you wrote:

                        <Izakaya Moku is usually at least half full of Japanese 20-somethings with stylish spiky haircuts>

                        bigjeff is correct, except that he wrote "full" and you wrote "half full." But that's splitting spiky hairs.

                        1. re: small h
                          bigjeff RE: small h Feb 11, 2010 07:52 AM

                          and the way k-town is, you'd much sooner find roving bands of chinese people than roving bands of japanese.

                          1. re: bigjeff
                            janethepain RE: bigjeff Feb 11, 2010 08:17 AM

                            Ha, I actually wrote the same before on midtownlunch.com. i'm actually even a little surprised that Koreans are even opening a Japanese-style izakaya...

                            1. re: janethepain
                              u
                              uwsister RE: janethepain Feb 11, 2010 05:05 PM

                              Actually izakaya-format bars/restaurants are pretty popular in Seoul, so I'm not surprised about this place opening -- but then also not surprised that the food isn't great. I'm sure everything tastes a lot better after a couple bottles of soju.

                              1. re: uwsister
                                l
                                Lau RE: uwsister Feb 11, 2010 08:05 PM

                                thats true, but the food here is not up to par, trust me

                                1. re: Lau
                                  u
                                  uwsister RE: Lau Feb 11, 2010 08:35 PM

                                  Oh I believe you -- I won't be going anytime soon. Thanks for taking one for the team!

                                2. re: uwsister
                                  janethepain RE: uwsister Feb 12, 2010 05:27 AM

                                  no, definitely, Korea has a lot of drinking culture and a lot of these kind of food/drink establishments that are just as Korean as izakayas are to the Japanese. but to be a Japanese-style one..?

                                  1. re: janethepain
                                    u
                                    uwsister RE: janethepain Feb 12, 2010 03:19 PM

                                    I meant Japanese-style izakaya. While they may not be completely authentic (like this one isn't) izakayas aren't uncommon in Seoul. One with good sake selection however is pretty rare. Lau, any details about that?

                                    I read the Village Voice review (from paper) and I am wondering if they were indeed playing J-Pop, which I somehow doubt...

                                    1. re: uwsister
                                      l
                                      Lau RE: uwsister Feb 12, 2010 03:29 PM

                                      they were playing k-pop when i was there

                                      i dont remember them having a particular long or good sake list if i remember right their selection wasn't that big, but dont quote me on that b/c i wasnt really looking for it

                                    2. re: janethepain
                                      r
                                      Ricky RE: janethepain Feb 12, 2010 06:42 PM

                                      this place isnt the first Korean owned Japanese style Izakaya, there are quite a few in flushing like Izakaya Kan, and a few in Manhattan like Izakaya Oni, Izakaya Ten.

                                      1. re: Ricky
                                        bigjeff RE: Ricky Feb 26, 2010 06:56 AM

                                        didn't know that Ten was korean-owned. what's funny is when food media hyperbole leads to attention-grabbing blog phrases like "the japanification of koreatown" [http://midtownlunch.com/2010/01/27/iz...

                                        ]

                                        talk of ownership/management etc. often becomes a moot point these days anyway; the setagaya chain was bought to ny by a korean guy, for instance. it's just the way this global world is, especially in a city like ny.

                                        1. re: bigjeff
                                          Silverjay RE: bigjeff Feb 26, 2010 07:18 AM

                                          I think the Korean guy with Setagaya was more on the business side, but the chain (mini chain actually) is Japanese from Tokyo and when the original shop opened, the Japanese owner/chef and his staff were there.

                                          1. re: Silverjay
                                            bigjeff RE: Silverjay Feb 26, 2010 08:50 AM

                                            yup, that's what I mean . . . . ownership/management versus money guy/realtor, etc. wonder why this is even an "issue" when you look at any of the big restaurant groups; do people dissect Keith McNally/Danny Meyer's ethnicity when all their restaurants in their respective groups have such a big range? I was thinking about this when reading the NYT article on the new restaurant opening at Lincoln Center [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/din...] and dealing with restaurant negotiations, ownership, etc.

                                            If persuaded, i can concede that maybe, possibly, it might be more important for the actual chef to "match" the cuisine but even then, that's an insult. it's only when its a charade that I might have a problem; e.g., the tons of bad japanese takeout that are covered in sakura blossoms and hanging lanterns with rising suns all over the place, but everyone working the joint is chinese. and even then, what difference does it really make? in the quest for good food, do you always have to have your tacos made by a mexican and your eggrolls made by a chinaman?

                                            I'm not making much sense here, I know, it's just these sorts of issues that get so picky and heavy-handed when in the end, it's about good food.

                                            1. re: bigjeff
                                              l
                                              Lau RE: bigjeff Feb 26, 2010 08:59 AM

                                              in theory you are correct, i mean anyone can learn how to make any food. i have had good food not cooked by the given ethnicity in the past although that said i'd say its the exception not the rule; an example would be some korean restaurants in LA where i know the some of chefs are mexican, but the food is really good although the restaurant is clearly owned / operated by koreans and the mexicans likely learned to cook korean food by one of the owners or original head chefs.

                                              Generally (and i'm saying generally bc i really mean it) when the food is not cooked by the given ethnicity then i have found that its not that good, case and point your example of japanese food cooked by chinese people.

                                              Its clearly nothing inate in a given ethnicity that allows them to cook their own food better. Personally I think its b/c the often times they grew up eating it in their home country and know what it should taste like.

                                              It's sort of like when one of my friends who doesn't have much experience eating chinese food likes a certain dish and thinks its amazing (even though its a poor rendition) and then goes to eat a well prepared version of the same dish and was like whoa what was eating before was crap. The same thing happened to me when i first came to NY with indian food, i had a roommate in college who was from india who was like that stuff you're eating is crap (6th street or whereever), showed me some good indian food and i was like whoa i had no idea i was eating really poorly prepared indian food (and eventually i visited him in india to show me even better indian food)

                                              1. re: Lau
                                                bigjeff RE: Lau Feb 26, 2010 09:07 AM

                                                ya I think we're on the same page; I just try not to get caught up so much in the authenticity/traditional question even though in practice, it does lead to good results, e.g. the malls/carts in Flushing, for example. it's just one of those things that as time passes, the world gets smaller, the connections get tighter, food and drink (and people) take on a global tone and it should not be a hindrance or a knock.

                                                in the end, it just might be a question of marketing, and how it effects what comes out of the kitchen. marketing in all of its forms (menu and restaurant design, internet buzz, pr messaging, etc.) has such a strong effect on the success of a restaurant that its much nicer to go with the straightforward places (chinatown hand-pulled noodle shops for instance) where the staff just cooks what they cook, they know what they know, they do their research, whether it is inate or trending, and they do it well; that's where you find the good food. for me personally, if every food establishment removed all that money and energy spent on marketing a particular "experience" and just focused straight up on the food, the world would be a better place and indeed, we are seeing a lot of that, and I'm happy for it.

                                            2. re: Silverjay
                                              r
                                              Ricky RE: Silverjay Feb 26, 2010 11:37 AM

                                              I think the Setagaya guys are pulling a "mad for chicken"

                                              The setagaya on University recently changed all their signage to Takumi Ramen.

                                  2. re: bigjeff
                                    j
                                    Jackaroo RE: bigjeff Feb 11, 2010 11:46 AM

                                    Ah! You guys are looking at the blog post:

                                    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

                                    Unfortunately, I don't always choose my words as carefully on a blog post as I do in a review. Not saying that's right, but sometimes it's a question of time. But you're right, both blog posts and reviews are fair game to criticize.

                                    In the full review that was in the paper (and online) you won't find the mistake about Japanese diners. But fair point.

                                3. re: Jackaroo
                                  Silverjay RE: Jackaroo Feb 11, 2010 06:41 AM

                                  The issue of Japanese ownership/management is an underlying common sense question about the place and has nothing to do with the piece in the Voice.

                          2. bigjeff RE: bigjeff Apr 6, 2010 09:53 AM

                            Kirakuya is the other joint that has been pretty low-key, close to 5th ave on the 2nd floor:
                            http://www.kirakuya-nyc.com/

                            anyone been?

                            -----
                            Kirakuya
                            2 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

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