It seems like the next big thing these days is fusion food, which I love because then the flavors and dishes of one cuisine is combined with another cuisine to produce something unbelievably different. When I first heard that Korean American chef, Esther Choi, would be opening a second restaurant in New York, I knew I had to try it. I'm always a supporter of Asian talent, but also Esther's first restaurant, mokbar, has some of the most delicious kimichi fries ever. Ms. Yoo, however, takes on my of a tapas approach where the key is to come with friends and order many smaller dishes. I am rating Ms. Yoo only 2.5 toasts for the reasons below.
Her dishes were not as packed with flavor as I would have liked. Although my friend and I loved the cheese tteukbokki, but the Korean chicken wings and the squid fries did not suit our tastes. The chicken wings were nothing special and we felt like we could have just gone to Koreatown for Bonchon or Olive Chicken instead for better tasting wings. Also, we originally thought that the squid fries would be like calamari fries, but they turned out to be thin strings of dried squid that was then fried. Both these dishes were disappointing to us since we felt like there was so much potential for them. The cheese tteukbokki, on the other hand, was delicious and one of the main reasons this restaurant was not rated two toasts. There was bacon and mushrooms spread out among the cheese and the cheese was SO cheesy (just the way we like it). The portion was the right size as well- not too small where we felt like we weren't getting our money's worth, but not too big to where the taste would be overwhelming. We also received the nori popcorn for free while we were waiting for our food to arrive and the popcorn had a weird taste in my opinion. There were strands of seaweed mixed with the popcorn, but it didn't provide much in the way of flavor so overall the popcorn was bland.
Another reason why Ms. Yoo disappointed us was that the waiters did not know much about the food or Korean culture. Some of the dishes were mispronounced by the staff and the waiter did not even know what type of sauce he was serving us with the fried squid. This could be because the restaurant was new, but I still feel like the staff could have been better prepared to welcome curious diners.
One major redeeming factor of Ms. Yoo was that if you dine there during happy hour (Monday to Friday from 5 to 7pm), the entire menu (besides their whole chicken) is actually half off. So our bill ended up being only $20 for two people, which is a pretty decent price for a Korean dinner and unheard of in the city. If you feel the urge to try Ms. Yoo, I would definitely suggest coming during this time. Otherwise, the meal may not be worth your money.