NYCReview

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Moono image
8.3

Moono

Korean

Koreatown

$$$$Perfect For:Date Night
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Moono could have been pretentious. It wouldn’t have been hard. The Koreatown restaurant is from a chef who also runs a tasting menu spot down the street, and it occupies a landmarked three-story building that makes its neighbors look uncultured. But instead of going the uptight route, Moono serves substantial portions of polished Korean classics in a bi-level room that, despite its terracotta tiling and cathedralesque ceilings, feels kind of casual.

With its $30 truffle jjajangmyeon, this isn’t exactly a homestyle spot, but it’s a lot more traditional than sister restaurants Atoboy and LittleMad. Broken into sections like “hwe/muchim” and “seafood/meat,” the menu features a few overachieving takes on things like mandoo, blood sausage ssam, and Korean fried chicken. Larger options, like the beef jeongol and crispy dry-aged branzino, are big enough to share, and impressive enough to make you wonder why a somm isn’t trying to pitch a white Burgundy as if it's an exciting investment opportunity.

Moono image
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Those stiff little moments won’t happen at Moono. We rarely say this, and we'll deny it if you tell anyone, but, if anything, this place is too laid-back. The soundtrack is Mykonos day club-adjacent (disorienting, but not bad), and dishes arrive at a rapid-fire pace, which means you can easily get in and out before you have the chance to fully soak in the ambiance. That's a shame, because not every restaurant has a tarnished brass fireplace and an illuminated mural parked on the ceiling.

Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Moono image
Moono image
Moono image

If you’re celebrating an anniversary or your grandmother’s birthday, you might want to find a spot that's a little more buttoned-up, with subtler lighting and a white tablecloth or two. But if you want to have a night out in K-Town that feels both grand and breezy and eat a meal that you won’t fully appreciate until you’re halfway down the block, this place is perfect. Split a stew, eat some wings, and be sure to pull, not push, on the heavy neo-Romanesque doors on your way out.

Food Rundown

Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Hoe Muchim

This should be the first thing on your table. In a small bowl, you get thick strips of gochujang-smothered salmon, pear, and crunchy radish. Make little wraps with the seaweed on the side, and be sure to get some nutty soybean powder in each.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Soondae Ssam

Another standout, Moono’s blood sausage is soft and custardy, with a deep flavor that pairs well with the perilla leaves underneath.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Spicy Fried Chicken

The first time we ordered it, we assumed this plate of not-so-spicy fried chicken would have maybe five or six pieces. But it comes with a full 10, and we really appreciate that. The crust is a little more delicate than your average KFC coating, and the meat is cooked flawlessly every single time.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Dry-Aged Branzino

In a city where whole branzino flows like tap water, this could be the best one. The perforated skin is as crispy as chicharrón, and there’s a layer of fat underneath that melts in your mouth. Make liberal use of the sweet soy mustard sauce.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Pork Butt Ssam

When it comes to larger plates, the branzino slightly edges out the pork butt ssam. But this straightforward crock of sweet marinated pork is another great option to share.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Beef Jeongol

Get a hot pot while you’re here. The spicy one arrives absolutely packed with tripe, but we prefer the beef jeongol. It has a thin, subtle broth, with plenty of tender brisket and beef tongue.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Pyongyang Cold Noodle

Moono’s naengymeon is cool and refreshing, but it doesn’t pack a ton of flavor. Unless you have your heart set on it, you can safely pass on this one.
Moono image

photo credit: Dan Ahn

Truffle Jjajangmyeon

With its thick, fermented black bean sauce, jjajangmyeon is actually a great match for truffle. But do you really need to spend $30 on these warm, chewy noodles? It depends on how much you like truffle, because that’s mostly what you taste.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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