Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to Prospect Lefferts Gardens for ramen and ribs.
Franklin Avenue favorite Glady's remains one of Crown Heights most hopping spots, packed nightly with long-time locals and newcomers alike getting loud and laughing over Caribbean classics (jerk, curry goat, some truly fire shrimp), and strong drinks. It's a fun scene, and the food is consistently great. Only problem: the place is much too small to accommodate everyone who wants to feast on chef Junior Felix's cooking.
In 2018, the team opened Glady's Jerk Center about half a mile south in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a comparatively expansive space that also served really good food, but then it abruptly closed last winter for a "concept update." That seems to have now arrived in the form of Mo's Original, a casual table-service spot with a Japanese-Caribbean mashup of a menu that features five different types of ramen.
The layout is the same from what I remember of Jerk Center, with seating for about 50 in a series of different dining areas in the long, somewhat narrow room, including the stools by the front window and at the curving island bar that's also Mo's most striking visual element. The second room is closed for now, and may become a separate bar. The overall design has changed from the colorful flamboyance of Jerk to a more minimalist, white-tiled aesthetic. The staff is welcoming in a neighborly sort of way, and Mo's feels like the type of place you could use for a bunch of different occasions.
Just because Mo's focuses on noodles doesn't mean the team has abandoned the Jerk Center smoker. In fact, one of the five ramens on offer is called, simply, Smoke, and features both smoked pork loin and smoked chicken broth. I wasn't entirely convinced by this—it lacked the complexity of a truly first-rate bowl of ramen—especially since the noodles were on the gummy side. Much better in this section of the menu was the Spicy Chili ramen, a rich and lively concoction (the pickles are a nice touch) that's also both broth-less and vegan.
If you just want to eat a bunch of meat, get the Ribs. Each order comes with a half-pound of these fat, well-smoked beasts, dripping with a tangy tomato-based sauce. The accompanying Fries are excellent as well, better even than the also-pretty-great Tots that came with my hefty, well-seasoned Fried Chicken platter.
Other good fried things include the Spicy Shrimp, which explode with fire and brine. Don't forget to eat the entire head for maximum enjoyment. And the complimentary basket of housemade potato chips, which hit the table as soon as you're seated, are both entirely welcome and utterly irresistible. The only serious misfire at Mo's is the Burger, a double-stack monster that's both impossible to eat—the globs of cheese sauce, plus a mountain of slippy toppings, ensures that it falls apart instantly—and surprisingly ho-hum, flavor-wise.
Though the food's a bit too inconsistent to qualify as a true destination restaurant, Mo's Original really nails it as a neighborhood spot. And, given the large, happy crowds drinking and eating there last Saturday night, the locals are showing their appreciation.
Mo's Original is located at 453 Rogers Avenue, at the corner of Lincoln Road, and is currently "soft open" on Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Monday (718-513-0698)