01/13/16 11:09pm

Esther Choi’s grandmother taught her to love cooking and eating Korean food. She’s been in the restaurant business since she was 14. She also loves Korean food in Queens whether Geo Si Gi’s pork stew or Sik Gaek’s live octopus as you can see in the above video from our friends at Find. Eat. Drink. As chef and owner of Mokbar, a bustling noodle shop in Chelsea Market, Choi is one busy lady, so I’m grateful she took the time to answer 7 Questions.

What inspired you to open Mokbar? What does the name mean?
I felt the need to speak for Korean food. It can be more than just Korean BBQ like most Americans think. There are so many different special flavors and dishes in Korean cuisine. I wanted to show Korean flavors in a different light, which is why I decided to go with Korean ramen. The name was inspired from a term ‘mokbang’ which is a famous phenomena in Korea where people watch other people eat food. I actually thought it was hilarious and love watching it myself as well. Mok means to eat, so it made sense to me: “Eat Bar.”

What’s in your fridge at home right now?
A lot of kimchi. A lot of gochujang and doenjang. And a lot of beer. These are staples in my fridge and I feel really bad when it’s not filled with these items.  (more…)

01/29/14 1:24pm

Kimchi grilled cheese with a sidecar of caraway napa slaw.


Back when The Queens Kickshaw opened a couple of years ago it made a name for itself with such fancy—and frankly outlandish—grilled cheese sandwiches as gouda with black bean hummus, guava jam, and pickled jalapeños. Last week I popped in to the Astoria eatery to try one of its latest creations, a kimchi grilled cheese ($10). It’s one of the more interesting sandwiches I’ve had in a while. The combination of cheese and kimchi has reawakened my curiosity about budae jjigae, the infamous “Korean army base stewthat combines kimchi, hot dogs, and American cheese, among other things. (more…)