Middling chow at Moksa, and the Cocktail thing has Jumped the Shark
Ate at Moksa last night and was a bit underwhelmed.
Had the Berkshire Pork pottstickers which were totally forgettable. They tasted like something that came frozen in a bag and were overcooked to the point of nearly being dry.
The Char Sieu steamed bun was actually kinda tasty. The waitress was SO IMPRESSED in knew what char sieu was (what ever) crazy thing is, it wasn't char sieu. The meat in the bun was actually pork belly that had sort of been gussied up. Tasty enough, but the version at Shangri-La is MUCH better.
The Dan Dan noodles tasted like something I whip up at home when I want something Asian-ISH in a hurry. Really could have benefitted from some fresh cilantro, garlic chive, or something. But the flavor was just generally muddy and not noteworthy. Not bad, but the Dan Dan noodles all over town are just plain better.
Also had the hand ripped noodles with spicy beef shin. The noodles themselves were pretty interesting and the beef shin had obviously been braised for a long time and then pulled apart. The texture and flavor of the meat was nice, but the overall taste of the dish had the same muddy, nothing really noteworthy thing going on. Short version, If I can cook Asian food better myself then the resto is doing something wrong.
On to the cocktail list:
Feel like the coctail list looks like something my 19 month old daughter would whip up if I let her loose in my bar, fridge, spice cabinet, and tea cub-bard.
White whiskey, absinthe, and edamame mash
Seriously, who the hell wants mashed soybeans in your whisky?
Eye of the Tiger
Single malt Scotch, Mango & Habenero
Ick! I love a nice mango daiquiri, and I loves me some single malt, together, wrong answer! Then throw some habanero in because why, heck who knows, I don't have to drink this crap myself.
There was literally nothing on the drink menu I wanted to try, so I invented my own on the spot.: Cachaca, Creole shub, and a squeeze of lime, aaaah. Perfect foil to Asian food. Too bad the Asian food wasn't perfect. Did I mention in a near empty restaurant, with 3 people behind the bar on and off, it took nearly 20 minutes for them to actually get us our drinks.
This chef has the hand of death. I give the resto a year at most. No way they will ever pay for the fancy reno they did in this space. Maybe I'll lease the joint and do something better when they go under.
Sorry Prav, I know you liked the place.
I didn't like the idea of that drink, either, but it's actually pretty good. Reminds me of one of those Haitian cornmeal- or cassava-thickened shakes, but boozy. (Not exactly a session drink.)
Noon is doing something original and rather specific there (as she has done elsewhere), so I hardly think she is representative of some major trend in craft cocktails. I like her stuff, though I spend most of my time in the more traditional craft cocktail bars. She has the same problem as many crafty bars in Boston: her skills don't get well transferred to her lieutenants.
Many of our talented bar managers don't have great training regimens. If the top dog isn't serving you, you might as well go elsewhere. This is one key trait that separates the great ones from the pack. Drink lost several of its superstars last year, but cocktail quality has not suffered; Gertsen had the kids from AAA waiting in the wings, and they've stepped up beautifully. Cannon has the same ethos working at his ESK / ICOB / Hawthorne stable.
re: MC Slim JB
Personally, as a bit of a cocktail nerd myself I see way too many craft cocktail lists that have gone off the rails lately. Too many ingredients, too much experimentation, things that just don't taste good.
I tend to like simpler then really complex, but when I see a list with that much whacky stuff, and MANY of the ingredients seem to clash as opposed to promoting a yummy, harmonious drink, I step away from the bar.
re: MC Slim JB
I think she's trying to do the West Coast garden in a glass approach. It's a major trend in cocktails, just not in Boston. I do hear good things about her bartending (more about her bar at Umami where she was actually the one at the bar most nights). I kept saying to myself that I should go, and then I'd look at the online menu and decide that it wasn't worth the trek out to Brookline. And now that it's closer, I think that I should go to the other spots when in Central considering that the chance of getting served by her is small.
re: MC Slim JB
I like taking the approach of trying everything once, even if it doesn't look appealing on paper, there are plenty of surprises out there.
Since I haven't been to Moksa, I am not qualified to comment on the drinks there, but I did have a couple opportunities to visit Noon when she was still at Umami in Brookline. She certainly had many drinks that did not sound particularly interesting or that bordered on off-putting, but I have to say that I am glad I gave them a try. Not all of her creations are hits, but the ones that I've had that were remarkable certainly can't be found anywhere else. From the sound of it, she has maintained her philosophy. Again, I have not been to Moksa and have not had these particularly cocktails, but I have tasted Noon's drinks before and would urge you to give them a shot. If they indeed taste as horrid as they sound, then that is valuable information indeed.
Fancy reno? I was struck by the harshness and unevenness of the lighting throughout and the bare cement floor -
and ditto on the cocktail catastrophes (what exactly did possess ME to order a watermelon habanero viengar margarita there?? - oh yes, it was 2+ fine libations at Brick and Mortar preceding the dinner attempt we made at Moksa )
At some point there's got to be a back to basics movement that recognizes "classic" craft cocktails are that for a reason and additions to the long-term lexicon are likely to be few and far between (though I have some to nominate, but that belongs on the Spirits board, I believe)