MODERN KOREAN GASTROPUB MS. YOO OPENS IN THE LOWER EAST SIDE
The Lower East Side is something of an incubator for imaginative restauranteurs and chefs to introduce new proposals to Manhattan, and sometimes creative eateries that riff on their more established restaurants about town. Case in point is the recently opened Ms. Yoo, a modern Korean gastropub by chef and owner, Esther Choi. Chef Choi is also the proprietor of Mŏkbar in Brooklyn and Mŏkbar in Chelsea Markets, both nods to her Korean culinary heritage, specifically her grandmother Jungok Yoo’s cooking influences.
Chef Choi envisioned something different for Ms. Yoo, veering away from her Brooklyn and Chelsea restaurants to create an environment that focuses more on small plates, bar snacks and cocktails than ramen and substantial entrees. Start with the bar snacks, like crisp, salty squid fries, nori popcorn and oily (in the best possible way), Korean fried chicken feet. The roasted bone marrow with toast baguette and bacon kimchi onion jam should be the next thing you order to share. They even have good vegan dished like a tofu burger with a shitake mushroom patty, sprouts and tofu tahini sauce. Everything is perfectly salty, and will require a drink to wash down, like one of Ms. Yoo’s specialty cocktails, which are straightforward, unpretentious and tasty. Wispers Like Women, for example, is three ingredients—Tito’s vodka, Korean plum and lime. It’s light and refreshing and doesn’t need to be explained by a mixologist.
Ms. Yoo sits on Allen Street and shares the neighborhood with other trendy and busy eateries like Dirty French, The Meatball Shop, and too many bars to list. This dinner-only venue is small, about 40 covers and 10 seats at the bar, and seems to draw more business from LES locals than anyone else. Its vibe is one over-the-top embellishment after another; picture leather banquettes next to ivy clad gazebos, next to elaborately carved antique mirrors. Brass metallic accents grab your attention from every direction. It’s a lot to take in, but somehow palatable and inspired by the copper and brass shops that dotted Allen Street during the 19th century. Their happy hour is fun lively, and everyday but Mondays when the restaurant is closed.
Words by Rocky Casale