Monday, June 06, 2011

Moko Culver City: Modern Korean with a happy ending

Moko's watermelon granita (photo courtesy GourmetPigs)
Moko has replaced Gyenari on the busy stretch of Washington Blvd. in Culver City that offers a large choice of restaurants, so every restaurant has to really pull its weight. Apparently Gyenari wasn't pulling them in anymore, so owner Will Shin re-concepted and brought in a new chef, Gary Robins. Obviously Robins is not Korean, and though the food revolves around a Korean theme, it brings in Vietnamese and other Asian influences for a whole new take on Korean food. I was invited to try out the recently re-opened restaurant where we concentrated on the panchan, or side dishes, dumplings, selections from the crudo and skewers menu as well as pancakes and rice cakes.
Lychee semifreddo with berries (photo by GourmetPigs)

The desserts were the real surprise, incorporating Asian flavors in fresh ways. We couldn't stop sampling icy, refreshing watermelon granita and housemade lychee semifreddo sprinkled with chile. The showstopper is a plate of housemade orange ginger, strawberry and anise marshmallows with a bowl of melted chocolate and delicate cinnamon-tinged graham crackers for creating s'mores toasted on the tabletop burner.
scallops with crispy leeks
What to order before dessert? Korean bbq dishes offer a la carte selections for tabletop grilling like marrow, marinated kalbi beef, prawns and vegetables. Panchan have imaginative touches elevating them to interesting dishes in their own right, from beets with apple-smoked bacon and the rarely-used jujube fruit to Asian pear and kohlrabi salad and asparagus with crisped garlic. Snapper and hamachi crudo were light and fresh, while a pork belly scallop skewer was a rich take on surf and turf. Duck confit, pork belly or grilled prawn ssam wraps are like giant tacos on thick rice wrappers, a perfect bar snack with cocktails like the Thai basil cooler or several good draft beers.
Moko Restaurant
9540 Culver Blvd.
Culver City


Recipes Club said...

I haven't really tried Korean food much, but next time I'm in LA I'll have to check this place out! What would be the best "safe choice" dish for one who is unexperienced with Korean food?
~Nancy Lewis~

Taln SilverGrizzly said...

OMG. Sam gyup sal with duck confit would be worth the flight from DFW to LAX.

Sree said...

I am about to move to this area so I will have to check this place out!