Where There’s Smoke: Moku Moku

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Upon entering Moku Moku, there will likely be two hosts there to greet you—one to eventually usher you to your seat (a collection of backless stools pushed up against wooden communal tables, a curved chef’s counter, or a slim metal shelf, i.e. purgatory for solo diners), and another to confirm that you didn’t inadvertently wander over from Momo Sushi Shack. It’s an easy enough error to make; they’re sister spots with similarly discreet signage, actually connected on the inside by an open passageway. But while the original (Momo) mostly peddles raw fish, the newbie (Moku) branches out with grilled, skewered tidbits and Asian nibbles that go down well with sake. It’s Bushwick’s newest, on-trend answer to the Japanese izakaya.

As long as you didn’t have your heart set on Momo’s spicy tuna bombs, go ahead and commit to Moku Moku, which, like its predecessor, makes a point of being heavily vegan and gluten-free, while otherwise managing to remain wildly un-diet conscious. There’s a whole menu section devoted to the deep fat fryer—virtuous burdock root gets gobbed with cream cheese in a bubbling gratin; and almost every order is accompanied by an array of flavored dipping salts, whether they’re desperately needed—like on a stiff row of abstemious okra, tomato, shishito and mushroom skewers which evokes the sad vegetarian option at a backyard barbecue—or not. Take the mountain of pitch perfect mentaiko mazemen, for instance; it’s a coil of chilled, springy noodles which owe their alla vodka hue to heavy cream and soft clouds of cod roe, and is beautifully enlivened with shiso leaves and a spritz of fresh lemon.

Your servers will likely steer you towards the top-selling tako corndog, and for excellent reason; instead of forcemeat, a slippery length of octopus lurks under the layers of nubby breading, sticky tonkatsu sauce, kewpie mayo and bonito flakes (it’s essentially a plus-sized version of takoyaki; those buoyant, batter-based cephalopod balls). As befits an izakaya, sharing is encouraged at Moku Moku, but this is one righteous snack you’ll want to bogart for yourself.
43 Bogart Street, Bushwick

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