Name of restaurant: Mokkoji, the Arcadia location. “It means the feast of a group of people who share a common interest,” chef and co-owner Miru Chung says.
Chef: Miru Chung, who was the chef-owner of the burger joint Miru 8691 in Beverly Hills. “I closed Miru 8691 because the lease ended and new management upped the new rent to $13,000 a month for a 1,900-square-foot restaurant,” he says. Chung was born in Korea, raised in Singapore and Indonesia, and went to UC Irvine before dropping out to cook.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The marinated Washimi Wagyu end rib hot pot combo with the original broth. The broth is created with kelp from Korea and shiitake mushrooms, sans MSG. “I don’t really think MSG kills you, but I just don’t like to use it since I feel like it’s cheating,” Chung says. The beef is the star of the dish. Washimi Wagu is a Kobe-style beef (because you can’t get actual Kobe beef in the States) and is sourced from a farm in Lexington, Ore., where the cows receive an 18-month feeding formula from a Japanese dietitian. The regimen consists of barley, wheat, corn and alfalfa; hormones and steroids are prohibited.
Concept: Individual hot pots with a set vegetable and protein platter. Like most hot pot restaurants, you choose your meat and your broth. Everyone gets a vegetable assortment. The real draw is the quality of the ingredients and, given the hourlong lines, people can tell the difference. Jidori chicken, Kurobuta pork belly and sashimi-grade seafood are the other protein choices
Who's at the next table? Locals who have made their way over after spotting the glorious photos of Mokkoji’s marbled meats on Instagram.
Appropriate for... : A small group gathering with friends and family.
Uh-oh... : They’re still in soft-opening mode so there are some glitches. The restaurant, according to Chung, isn’t even fully built yet. “I opened because I was broke and needed to make some cash to finish building the restaurant. We don’t have a real sign yet. Our menu is a print-out and we run out of ink sometimes. We use an old CD player as our sound system; we slice meat with a broken meat slicer; and we don’t even have a proper set time to open and close.” But lines are consistently long, so they’re doing something right. “I think we are touched by the restaurant god," says Chung. "I don’t know.”
Service: A bit spotty, but understandable given the crowds and the recent opening.
What are you drinking: Water, but a craft beer selection is set to roll out in the upcoming weeks. “Ask for Kameron when you come," Chung says. "He'll start his Beer 101 speech which will last for — forever.”