Culver City: MoKo with Chef Gary Robins

banchan galore

MoKo recently opened in Culver City and I was invited to check out the menu.

lavender mojito

I kicked off the evening with the Lavender Mojito (rum, lime, lavender, soda) and dived into a veritable cornucopia of banchan and namul.

array of banchan

 

I particularly enjoyed the sweet lotus, sweet corn and tomato, mirin braised artichokes and asparagus namul.

asparagus namul

kimchi

 

Even the “standard” kimchi was pretty good. MoKo’s chef Gary Robins comes to LA by way New York. Notably he was at the Russian Tea Room, I heard about him last year when he was doing a pop-up at an Italian restaurant in the Valley. Unfortunately, I never tried out the food though I heard it was quite stellar. With such a diverse background, it’s interesting to see his take on Korean food. Is it fusion? Not really. It’s more like what I saw happening with Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco. It’s taking a concept and making it your own.

pan-friend duck and foie gras dumpling with sour cherry dipping sauce

steamed shrimp dumpling with black vinegar sauce

green onion pork wontons with red chili sesame broth

 

Of the three dumplings I had, I loved the duck with foie gras best.It hardly needed the sour cherry sauce. I actually would have liked the red chili sesame broth for the pork wontons to be spicier– and I’m usually not a spice hound.

Moko Wings

Rye Blossom

The Moko wings with the tofu crema was pretty interesting. But since they already had a chili garlic sauce, I didn’t really dip the wings into the crema.

For my second cocktail, I went with the Rye Blossom (Old Overholt rye, Grand Marnier, lavender bitters). This is the cocktail whiskey drinkers will love.

apricot ginger glazed chicken kochi (skewers)

grilled galbi marinated beef kochi

crispy pork belly and scallops kochi

Under the Kochi (skewers) section, we enjoyed the apricot ginger glazed chicken and the really tender grilled galbi. But my favorite was the crispy pork belly and scallop skewers. Mmm, pork belly.

soju cured salmon jeon (pancake)

sweet corn and lobster jeon

Next we were treated to soju cured salmon and sweet corn and lobster jeons (pancakes). These were like the greatest flatbread or pizza to me- topped with lots of seafood!

sweet soy braised pork ssam

grilled prawns ssam

Normally the ssam (open faced sandwiches on steamed bao — buns) are much larger than pictured. The restaurant gave us these individually-sized ones. We tried two of the four on the menu; the grilled prawns with avocado and the sweet soy braised pork which was my favorite! The other two are sesame duck confit and green chili pork sausage. Both sound amazing. MoKo is offering a great deal during their Social Hour (happy hour). Get a ssam and Hite beer for only $10.

Hoddeok

frozen lychee parfait

apricot green tea shortcake

We were stuffed beyond belief but my sweet tooth demanded we try the desserts. I tasted the Hoddeok which are crisp cinnamon filled pancakes. They came with blueberry ginger sauce and sweet cream. These were the favorite of the table. I however found the apricot green tea shortcake my fave. Visually, it was stunning. I also loved that the frozen lychee parfait came with so much fresh fruit!

I would definitely come back to MoKo for more banchan and ssam. And those pork belly and scallop skewers!

 

 

Read Jonathan Gold’s review of MoKo at LA Weekly here.

Moko – 9540 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 – (310) 838-3131

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