746 Tenth Ave
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 765-0197
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Family Friendly
Area: West 50s
Entirely unlike any Japanese restaurant I've ever visited, very new MOCU-MOCU offers snacks, beverages ranging from coffees to alcohol and features savory Okonomiyaki (a sort of pancake) and sweet Obanyaki.
The décor is clean and contemporary with tables, a bar where eaters can stand and enjoy their bits and bites and a charming side room with M-M merchandise (ceramics, cute handbags, placemats and the like) as well as a communal table where staff sometimes perches to eat.
The menu draws upon the cuisines of Hiroshima and Osaka. Although it seems a bit confusing at first, the incredibly obliging staff (women in an outfit topped with a black brimmed cap) will gladly explain. My dinner partner opted for Set A that brought a baked pancake "stuffed" with chicken breast; the summer salad, sweet potato fries that are limper than their U.S. counterparts with the kick of spice and shredded Japanese pickles. This entire array which yields quite a lot of food runs a modest $13.25.
My Set B of the Hiroshimayaki Oknomomiyaki included a scrumptious chilled Vichyssoise-type soup made of edamame; a summer salad reminiscent of the salad encountered in more plebian Japanese restaurants; pickles and the Oknomomiyaki itself, a pancake on ramen with pork belly. We also sampled several osozai, small savory dishes, of grated carrot combined with other vegetables --one with red cabbage, another with burdock root-- and a cold dish with eggplant and various squashes--all incredibly fresh and delicious.
The a la carte menu offers house-made spiced nuts; chicken wings, a bento box and other goodies.
You can drink sake, sake- based cocktails such as one with cucumber and mint, drinks based on champagne, Japanese beers and a variety of red and white wines from Barcelona and Long Island. In the non-alcoholic vein, there are all manner of coffees including a matcha espresso latte and numerous teas both hot and iced, all enjoyed while cool Western jazz floats through the space.
I'm not a huge fan of Japanese desserts but must admit the Obanyaki matcha with sweet mint chocolate azuki wasn't bad. You can create your own Obanyaki combining the base with add-ins such as fresh fruit, green tea custard cream, maple syrup, yuzu apple compote and others. The restaurant is owned and run by sisters Aya and Tomomi Tatsushiro in collaboration with consulting chef Hiroko Shimbo, an award-winning cookbook author widely recognized as an expert on Japanese cuisine.
Only a month old, when I was there the other diners were mostly Japanese but locals will enjoy the flavors and the highly unusual, gently-priced, tasty dining experience.
MOCU-MOCU translates both as something fluffy like a cloud or a person who is passionate about his art or work. The Tatsushiro sisters are pretty passionate about their new restaurant and with good reason. The place is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday - Thursday and Sunday 11:30am - 10:00pm; Friday - Saturday 11:30am - 11pm and closed Mondays. Credit cards accepted. There is a take-out window and private parties are welcomed.
Review By: Mari Gold