Try to picture ME (a non-meat eater) going to a Korean Fried Chicken joint. Weird, right. BUT, I’m always determined to find my way around a menu, so I decided to make Mono + Mono my challenge. At first glance, you’ll clearly notice the decor has an inexplicably cool appeal, but what I didn’t expect are the simple + amazing Soju Cocktails (think vodka but sweeter) and Sushi Rolls. Trust me: you’ll be beyond ecstatic that you took my advice by heading to this East Village spot (4th St btwn 1st/2nd Aves).
Full disclosure: the first time I went to Mono + Mono, the service was just wrong. I talked to the manager who confessed they were short staffed and the normal chef was out that night. He asked that I give them another try, so months later, I returned. After all, dark mood lighting, a grand piano doubling as a communal table and a DJ perched a good 1.5 stories above the dining room, spinning awesome jazz standards equals a second chance, as far as I’m concerned. The AMAZING Soju Cocktail Sampler ($11) didn’t hurt my decision to come back either…
As an overall document, Mono + Mono’s menu can be a bit perplexing. Grilled Edamame ($5.95) presented inside a hollowed corn husk? Weird, but also really freaking tasty. Also odd-yet-wonderful are the Grilled Tofu Sliders ($10.95), perfect for sharing too. Surprisingly, the Crouching Tiger Shrimp ($14.95), grilled w/white truffle oil, saffron and fennel bulb sauce were a bit small + chewy and didn’t really do it for me. The best part of the meal, by leaps and bounds, was the sushi rolls. We went with the Ninja, Spider, and Crunch California Rolls ($11.95-$12.95) which were all SUPERBLY executed. The rolls each have 11-13 perfectly bite-sized pieces, the flavors are so fresh and they’re made with sushi rice that seems less dense than any roll I’ve ever had.
I may not have had the featured Korean Fried Chicken but I’m sure I’ll go back, and will eventually get the scoop on it. What my experience with Mono + Mono DID teach me is that if at first a restaurant doesn’t succeed, and the signature dish is something you won’t eat, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an epic fail. OK, in most cases it does – BUT, in the case of M+M, I learned: judge not [too quickly], lest ye will miss out on some pretty amazing Soju and Sushi.