Izakaya Moku is No Sake Bar Hagi (But It’s Good Enough For Me)

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It seems pretty likely that all of the new places that make up the recent Japanese “invasion” of Koreatown are owned and operated by Koreans rather than Japanese.  Arang hides nothing with its mixed menu of Korean and Japanese foods and Haru Hana’s broad survey of all foods Japanese is a bit unusual. The latest beach head is Izakaya Moku (on 32nd btw. B’way+5th), and it has inspired much consternation among chowhounders and other seekers of authenticity. Here’s the thing: I don’t really care.

I love Japanese food. And until recently, the only option for those of us working near 34th Street was to hop the 6 train. I’ve happily checked out the other places that have popped up in K-Town, and jumped at the chance to try out Izakaya Moku.


After reading the early review on Fork in the Road, I went for the fried offerings my first time around. When I ordered the Squid Karaage ($8.95) I was thinking of crispy fried chicken with a shattering crust on the outside and a juicy chicken center. Instead, these doughy fritters left me queasy by the end of my meal and wondering if I had finally had more fried food than I could handle. The innards only had tiny bits of squid surrounded by grease-soaked batter. One or two are great, three or four area bit much. The dozen pieces that come with a full order just might kill you. Split it with a friend, for your own good.

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The Tonkotsu ramen ($8.95) has the milky pork broth that makes the dish. It’s rich and wonderful and the noodles are firm and done just right. The problem is with the meat, which is in short supply. The handful of slices of pork just don’t do it.

I’d also complain that the soup spoon is tiny and not nearly up to the task of picking up as much broth and noodles as you’d like in any given spoonful. Otherwise, the big bowl of soup is deeply satisfying on a cold, gray day.


Tipping us off on the Korean roots of the restaurant, Omu Bokum Bap ($8.95) certainly doesn’t sound like any Japanese dish I’ve ever had. It’s a pile of fried rice flecked with tiny bits of beef and topped with a fried egg and decorated with ketchup hashmarks. Ketchup and eggs don’t agree with everyone, but its sweetness fit with the thin layer of fluffy egg and the savory meat and rice.


The pricing is about the norm for most lunch specials on 32nd Street. Slightly more than half of the items on the menu are under $10, most of them at $8.95 or $9.95. Among the $9.95 options is Katsu of the pork or chicken variety, but to get curry or cheese on top, you’re breaking the Midtown Lunch limits. The pork katsu doesn’t quite meet the standards of other Japanese or pseudo-Japanese places nearby, especially Arang, just across the street. The pork is thin and lean and, though it provides a great crunch, the meat within the crispy shell just doesn’t stand up.

If you want to spring a for a little something extra, Onigiri, stuffed rice balls, are available for an additional $2.

I enjoyed the meals I had at Izakaya Moku and will definitely be back. That said, if Menchenko Tei or Udon West or Soba Totto moved downtown 10-15 blocks, I’d probably never consider it an option.

The + (What people who like about this place would say)

  • I like having some good Japanese options without having to take the train.
  • Since business hasn’t picked up yet during the lunch hour, I get to have the place nearly to my self.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • What’s with all this Japanese food? If I’m in Koreatown, I want Korean food.
  • I want authentic Japanese food cooked by Japanese cooks in the kitchen. This probably isn’t that.
  • I was hoping for lunchtime Sake Bar Hagi, and this definitely isn’t it!

Izakaya Moku, 10 W. 32nd Street (btw. B’way+5th), second floor. 212-736-3232


  • The Omu Bokum Bap is probably omu-rice, a Japanese dish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omurice

    Bizarrely good, right? Bokum Bap is “fried rice”, so that’s a pretty literal translation from Japanese I guess.

    Too bad the squid wasn’t good. I would have been all over that.

  • Ha, RadiantPig beat me right to it.

    Can’t wait to check out that ramen.

  • I’m convinced nobody makes a good omurice in NYC. Maybe Tokyo Bar, but they’re closed.

    modern omurice is usually made with a fluffy omelet thats still runny in the middle, and then cut down the middle when served to expose all the runniness, then drowned in a beef demiglace sauce.

  • I’d rather go to 3rd Floor and have 3 plates of Katsu and 7 beers for 18 bucks or whatever their deal is.

  • I f’in LOOOOOOVE third floor cafe

  • Formz, I still haven’t met you…..we should do an unsanctioned MLHH.

  • I still don’t understand how anyone can hate on 3FLR Cafe, but from what I last read in the forums they still offer you tons of extras like free appetizers and random free dishes on top of the unlimited katsu and chicken, drinks.. (make sure to get the katsu sauce on the side!)
    OK I’m hungry now

  • Mama, they gave us (Dean and I) something he knew, some super thick rice noodle dish that almost made me throw up (I’m a texture person). We think someone ordered it and sent it back or something.

  • Cheeeeeese we should do that. You live like two blocks from me too this is terrible.

  • You’re on first. That’s like a 8 minute walk.

  • I hit up 3rd floor cafe last night for a couple drinks after work. No specials worth noting on thursdays. Two bottles of Sam cost me $14. Fuck.

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