On Wednesday, the chef behind the Michelin one-star Jua opened Moono, a more casual follow-up in the heart of New York City. While his new spot still focuses on Korean cuisine, it’s highlighting some of the lesser-known dishes from that culture via a highly curated à la carte menu. Divided into nine sections—which might seem like a lot—there are typically only a couple of dishes per category, making the menu approachable, and keeping the decision fatigue to a minimum. In the Ssam (wrapped)/Muchim (mixed with seasonings) category, scallops are served with agar, cucumber, and Granny’s apple, while the Hoe Muchim + Kim combines salmon with gochujang and soy-bean powder. There are also Twigim (fried) plates like spicy fried chicken and fried pork dumplings, and Jeon (Korean pancakes) such as buckwheat crepes and mung-bean pancakes.
Larger dishes run the gamut from seafood (dry-aged branzino) to meat (pork-butt ssam). For fans of hot pot, there’s a spicy beef-broth option as well as a Pyongyang-style version with beef brisket, mushroom, and crown daisy. Foie gras appears in both a rice dish with gold queen rice and mushrooms and a noodle dish with anchovy and seaweed. You can round out your meal with either buckwheat or burdock ice cream.
To accompany Kim’s menu, Jaehoon No has crafted a beverage program designed to highlight Korean spirits like soju, makgeolli, fruit wine, and yakju. Beers include both Korean ales and local craft brews, while the wine list features delicate, floral bottles that pair well with Kim’s flavors.
The restaurant’s name comes from the Korean moonho, meaning “gateway,” and the space’s design further plays on that concept. The two-story restaurant is topped off by a massive skylight, which brightens up the pale wood paneling, cream tones, and brass accents of the interior. Two murals by the Korean American artist Ancho bring an enhanced sense of nature into Moono’s urban location.
The landmarked building, built in 1889, also contains a third floor, which Kim plans to turn into an intimate chef’s-counter restaurant next year. That gives diners a chance to fully enjoy the Moono experience before trying out the lauded chef’s next venture.