Moono is a new Korean restaurant from Michelin star chef Hoyoung Kim, in partnership with New York City based hospitality group, HAND Hospitality. Moono is the sophomore project from chef Kim, who opened Jua – a one Michelin star Korean tasting menu restaurant centered around the wood-fired grill – in January of 2020. Moono, however, will take a more casual approach, showcasing some of the undiscovered dishes of Korean cuisine via an a la carte menu.
Moono is located on 32nd Street, right off of Madison Avenue, in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan. The name comes from the Korean word “moonho” meaning “the gateway” – its intention being a passageway to interact with, and experience, Korean culture through food.
Chef Kim’s menu is broken down into various categories that are indicative of the Korean table. Under the Ssam (wrapped) / Muchim (mixed with seasonings) section, there are dishes like Scallop with agar, cucumber, and Granny apple and Soondae Ssam with Korean sausage, perilla leaf, and gochujang, among others. Twigim (fried) includes dishes like Spicy Fried Chicken with sweet and sour sauce and Fried Mandoo with pork. Jeon (Korean pancake) includes a Mung Bean Pancake with jangajji or a Buckwheat Crepe with radish kimchi, glass noodle, and oyster. Larger plates feature seafood, like the Dry Aged Branzino with house made mayo and spicy pepper; or meat, like Galbi-jjim, a beef short rib with Pyogo mushroom and shishito. There is also a Hot Pot section, one featuring a spicy beef brisket broth, beef tongue, and beef tripe, and one Pyongyang-style with beef brisket, mushroom, and crown daisy. The Sotbap (rice cooked in a pot) section includes one with uni and one with mushroom and foie gras, both made with Gold Queen rice. Finally, a Noodles section features options like Foie Gras Noodles with anchovy dashi and a chilled Pyongyang-style noodle made with buckwheat and beef broth. There are also desserts, like the Burdock Ice Cream with chocolate mousse and burdock chips.
The beverage program, led by General Manager Jaehoon No, features a mixed selection of bottled beers ranging from Korean varieties to local craft brews. Signature cocktails are made with Korean spirits such as distilled soju, makgeolli, fruit wine, and yakju, and also incorporate Korean flavors and ingredients. The wine list is comprised of both Old and New World wines that feature floral, delicate, and savory characteristics that can match up to Kim’s cuisine. There is also a well-rounded assortment of Burgundy wines, as well as natural wines that play well with the fermented flavors found in Korean cuisine.
The 2,700 square foot, bi-level restaurant is housed in what was originally the Grolier Club, a historically landmarked Romanesque building that was built in 1889. The restaurant was designed by Junho Choi from Two Point Zero. Guests will ascend the front steps to enter into the foyer, which has a grand wooden staircase and black-and-white marble tiling, both of which have a charming patina that matches the storied exterior. To the left, there is an intimate bar space featuring a seven-seat green marbled bar and warm wood tones with gold accents. Above, there is an illuminated hemispheric dome in the ceiling that is rendered with a mural created collaboratively by California-based, Korean-American artist Ancho (@anchoponcho) and Two Point Zero. The illustration – drawn in the style of “Minhwa” (traditional Korean folk art) – depicts a serene nature scene. At first glance, you’ll find mountains and trees submerged in the clouds. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find traditional Korean instruments hidden throughout – a playful revelation that expresses the cultural roots of the nation.
Seating for up to 100 guests is available via the ground level and mezzanine dining rooms. The spaces feature cream tones, pale wood paneling, and curved archways that bring the eye up towards the high ceilings. There is also terracotta tiling, exposed brick, and tarnished brass accents that lend color, as well as a palatial skylight – adorned with a second Ancho mural – that further alludes to the conceptual “gateway.” Anchoring the space is a wrap-around, chef’s counter style table that features an installation of golden rods piercing through small spheres representing husks of rice grains.
There is also a third floor in the building, where chef Kim plans to open an intimate chef’s counter concept next year.
Moono is located at 29 East 32nd Street, between Park and Madison Avenues, in New York City. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 5:00PM to 11:00PM. Moono is closed on Sundays.