When Gyenari wasn't going in the direction they envisioned, the owners decided to shutter the restaurants and re-open as MoKo (Modern Korean), which takes the food in a whole new direction.
|Pan fried duck and foie gras dumplings w/ sour cherry sauce ($12)|
I was pleasantly surprised by the cocktails here. My favorite was the Thai Basil Cooler ($11): Thai basil, Damrak gin, St. Germain, lemon, and agave. The thai basil gave it a stronger aroma than your usual basil and blends well with the herbal notes of the gin. (PS. they have $5 drinks during "social hour" from 5-7 pm every day).
I also liked the MoKo Punch ($18 carafe, $40 bowl): soju, vodka, persimmon cinnamon tea, watermelon, pineapple. Perfect for a big party.
Yes, they charge for "banchan" here ($7.50 for 3) but they're not your regular banchan. If you want your money's worth then skip the kimchi and radish, instead go with the Chiogga beets (sauteed with jujubes and apple smoked bacon), asparagus namul (barley, pea shoots, and crisped garlic), asian pear and kholrabi salad, lotus roots braised in honey, or purple eggplant namul (gochujang, green onions, and sesame).
While MoKo is not cheap, it wouldn't be fair to compare them to Koreatown places, as they do not serve traditional Korean food. As is the case with many restaurants, some dishes are better value than others. People keep complaining about the $9 for 3 shrimp dumplings here, but seems like I was the only one complaining about the $12 for 3 chicken wontons at Lukshon. In both places, the answer is simple: order wisely. Here are some of the dishes I enjoyed:
Raw scallops, crispy leeks, red chili jang ($11)