Explaining Mooncake Foods to newcomers can present something of a challenge. It’s sort of vaguely healthy Asian food, but not healthy in an organic green juice kind of way. And it’s in Soho, but not in the part where some old guy is selling old movie scripts and bad paintings on the street. It also kind of looks like a greasy spoon diner. But in a good way.
Everything about Mooncake Foods basically follows the “in a good way” formula. This includes the down to the impossible to pin down clientele - on our last weekday evening visit, the only other patrons were a pair of French girls who shared an order of dumplings and cheap glasses of wine, and a guy sitting alone in a leather jacket. In a good way!
So go alone and sit at the counter, go with a friend and sit in the window on a cold winter day, or go with a group - at Mooncake, there are no rules.
Except there is one rule: green sauce. All meals at Mooncake should revolve around the restaurant’s signature spicy green sauce, which is kind of like a tangier, more aesthetically-pleasing Sriracha addictive enough it should possibly be regulated as a controlled substance. But it’s not regulated because NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IT IS. The recipe is secret and it’s not for sale. We’ve asked.
Green sauce seems to bring people back - and Mooncake has built a small empire on it, with three other locations in the Financial District, Hell’s Kitchen, and Chelsea. We can’t attest to the quality of cool, weird diner vibes at the other locations, but we can attest to the fact that they have the green sauce, and to the fact that they will deliver to your doorstep. Not always promptly, but as you should know by now: Mooncake is not like most restaurants.
So stop worrying about how to explain this place to your friends, and get to this corner of Soho you probably forgot existed and get to this weird little Asian diner you never knew you needed.
Whitefish salad usually lives a quiet existence on a bagel at your local Jewish appetizing shop, but here, it’s hanging out on a baguette with pickled vegetables and jalapeños like it’s no big deal. This sandwich is kind of a mess (but in a good way) - large, very spicy chunks of jalapeño sometimes pop up where you don't expect them.
The Mooncake classic. A piece of broiled salmon marinated in a slightly sweet miso sauce that makes teriyaki look stupid. It comes with rice and salad, and for an extra $3, add salmon roe to feel fancy. Top with green sauce.
What exactly is in these dumplings? Not sure. But they have a good chewy wrapper and serve as an excellent vehicle for - you guessed it - green sauce.
A less oily, more richly-flavored improvement on the wonton soup you get with your generic Chinese delivery.