Esther Choi, proprietor of Korean ramen restaurants mokbar in Park Slope and Chelsea Market, debuted her third NYC offering on Wednesday evening on the Lower East Side. Meet Ms. Yoo, her new bi-level cocktail bar and gastropub named for the grandmother who taught Choi how to cook. There are no noodle soups, but Choi continues her "crusade" to bring authentic Korean food to New York City while merging those flavors, ingredients and techniques with American pub grub.
That's how she ended up with dishes like Tteok n' Cheese, rice cakes bound together with gruyere and cheddar cheeses, studded with bacon and topped with panko and kimchi tomato sauce; Korean Fried Chicken Feet—her take on chicken wings—dusted with sesame chicken powder; and the Ms. Yoo Burger topped with onion-kimchi-bacon jam and American cheese on brioche.
Grandma pops up again in the Whole Fried Chicken, which is stuffed with a glutinous rice straight from the familial recipe book, so to speak. The freshly-killed bird is first stuffed with the rice then roasted before its final preparation in the fryer. Don't be alarmed when it hits your table...with both its feet and its head.
Expect Japanese whiskies and sojus—along with cocktail ingredients like shrubs and syrups that use Korean ingredients—on the drinks end. A Bloody Maria-type cocktail with tequila, lime and gochujang (Madame Ae-ma, $14) sound intriguing. There's a seasonally-appropriate frosé on the menu, too, along with beers including Sapporo and Hite.
163 Allen Street, 917-261-2490; ms-yoo.com