Location: 163 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
Cuisine: Korean American
Best dish: Tteok N’ Cheese is one of the best items on the menu. It is filling and hearty with a buttery top and creamy cheesy center.
Overall: The atmosphere and locale make this an ideal date and adults only dinner choice. The menu offers enough unique and familiar items to appease even the most diverse group.
East meets West at Ms. Yoo, a Lower East Side gastropub. The menu is influenced by Korean and American cuisine with a focus on familiar bar food favorites. Ms. Yoo is one of three restaurants lead by head chef Esther Choi. Mokbars are Choi’s other adventures. At Ms. Yoo, sleek Deco-esque glamour has replaced the rustic urbanity of the Mokbars with their Korean decorative elements. The second floor, with a window wall overlooking the restaurant downstairs and a wood cubby-holed wall festooned with candles, will be dedicated to events for up to 75. While Chef Choi’s other ventures provide traditional Korean dishes with Americanized ingredients, Ms. Yoo presents familiar American dishes enhanced with Korean flavors and ingredients. Sesame oil and bean paste are familiar aromas and are often wafting through the air before you can place your order. Dinner service often begins with a complimentary serving of Nori popcorn which is fluffy light popcorn scented with sesame oil and topped with dried nori. The menu is mostly small plates designed to share and give the diner an introduction to Korean flavors and textures. If you’ve never indulged in Korean fare Ms. Yoo is a good place to start. The menu is limited enough to prevent hours of indecision, and yet diverse enough to satisfy every palate. We began our meal with a new twist on a familiar favorite.
Ms. Yoo’s take on mac and cheese replaces traditional pasta with Tteok, a Korean rice cake. The rice cake is shaped into small ziti like tubes and covered with copious amounts of gooey cheese and slivers of crispy bacon. Unlike macaroni Tteok has no hole, it is a solid mass of rice cake similar to gnocchi. This was without question our favorite dish. The unique texture of the Tteok and the warm creamy cheese were a sensational combination we highly recommend.
Korean Dog on Bun
For this version of a traditional hot dog, it features a house made pork sausage, grilled jalapeno, and Yoo sauce on a warm pretzel bun. We were warned about the spice content but did not find the dish too spicy. There is a nice warming peppery kick to the sausage and the jalapeno but the spice is enjoyable, not overwhelming.
Whole Chicken for 2
The menu has only a few entrée or large plate options. The Whole chicken is by far the most popular. The optics on this dish are perfect for foodie photographers. It has the entire chicken, head, and feet intact! The skin a drool-inducing golden brown and it is served on a platter of roasted potatoes. Each bird is cooked to order and takes about one hour to prepare. Ours arrived in about 40-45 minutes and could have benefitted from a few more minutes in the oven. The chicken was slightly undercooked taking away from our enjoyment. The flavor was good on the outside but we were reluctant to dig in. We rarely send things back to the kitchen so we filled up on the crispy potatoes and got our chicken to go. The next day we baked it for a few more minutes and it tasted so much better. A few extra minutes made all the difference. This was a slight misstep from the kitchen at Ms. Yoo but it could easily be corrected.
Mist Whispers Like Woman
The cocktails at this gastropub have all been dubbed with whimsical monikers, some of which reflect titles of popular Korean films. Mist whispers are made with, Tito’s vodka, Korean plum, and lime. Overall it was a tasty drink we would absolutely order again. The flavors were fresh but strong so be careful this one may sneak up on you.
Like the film that inspired its naming, the Madame Ae-Ma is a spicy revelation. The drink is made with tequila, triple sec, lime, gochujang the combination of which reminds us of a margarita, but with a Korean flair.
I Ms. Yoo
If you’re into bourbon we recommend I Ms Yoo. This is made with Maker’s bourbon, jujube, bitters, and vermouth. The Bourbon is the star of this beverage, the other ingredients are just accouterments to help the bourbon along.
Overall our evening with Ms. Yoo was a pleasant one. The drinks were full-bodied, carefully crafted, and not at all watered down. The staff was friendly and attentive providing their recommendations and expertise on the menu items. The food was delicious we enjoyed everything that was put in front of us, with the chicken being the one misstep. Though slightly undercooked the flavor wasn’t bad we simply fell victim to the hype. Having had the dish recommended by several people built a hype that only a few could have lived up to. With that said, unless you’re in the mood for baked chicken or looking for a good photo op for your followers feel free to skip the chicken, Ms. Yoo has a little more to offer.
Ms. Yoo is located at 163 Allen Street, New York, NY and will be open daily from 5 p.m.