Mokja Korean Cuisine, New York City, NY


Bibinbap Burger at Mokja

Mokja Korean Cuisine opened recently on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is a spin-off of Mokja Korean Eatery in Astoria.  Mokja serves traditional Korean dishes and also some mash-up fusion dishes – for instance, the Bulgogi Nachos, which are tortilla chips topped with gochujang aioli, kimchi, beef bulgogi and melted sharp cheddar and the Bibimbap Burger which is a burger topped with bibimbap vegetables, a runny fried egg and bibimbap sauce on a brioche bun.  Mokja has a small main dining room that seats maybe 20 people and also has a party room available that seats 15 people.

Fried Pork Dumplings

Fried Pork Dumplings

The Dumplings:  Mokja serves homemade pork with vegetable dumplings that come either fried or steamed and in orders of four or nine pieces. I tried the fried dumplings which are deep fried cooked and are crispy and crunchy on the outside.  I liked these dumplings a lot; inside the wrapper the pork is densely packed into a tight meatball that is savory and juicy.  This is not a bland factory made frozen dumpling, the filling has a robust, well seasoned pork flavor.

The Dipping Sauce: Mandoo dipping sauces in Korea tend to be loaded with scallion slivers and sesame seeds, and often ginger and/or garlic too.  Sometimes the sauces are so dense with pieces they are like a slurry (see the sauce at Myeongdong Gyoza here) and this is the route Mokja has gone with adding scallion and sesame seeds to their sauce.  I like this approach because there was enough scallion to add aromatic and pepper notes and the sesame seeds added a hint of smokey flavor and crunch to the dumpling.  The sauce itself appeared to be a mix of soy, sesame and rice vinegar.  Mokja’s strong work with the dipping sauce really elevated their dumplings.

The Location:  Mokja is on Amsterdam Ave between 101st and 102nd streets which is the southern end of Manhattan’s Manhattan Valley neighborhood.   This might be the Northern most Korean restaurant in Manhattan.


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