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A Range of Reactions to Moksa

Photo: Dominic Casserly

When it comes to the reviews, it's a mixed bag for Patricia Yeo's newest venture, Moksa, which had its highly anticipated opening in mid-March in Central Square. This izakaya offers small dishes inspired by a variety of Asian cuisines, including dan dan mein (resurrected from Yeo's now-defunct Ginger Park), miso-braised short rib roti, and bibimbap. Moksa also boasts an impressive and unique cocktail list created by Noon Inthasuwan, an alum of Om and Umami. Here's what the diners and critics have had to say about the food, drink, and decor.

The Great Food, Great Sake News: There were only positive words from The Passionate Foodie as he praised the bright flavors Moksa has to offer: "The Corn Roti with Miso Braised Shortrib & Pickled Vegetables ($8) were like Asian tacos, with tender & sweet meat contrasted with the light sourness of some pickled veggies. The roti was soft, with a strong corn flavor, and it seemed very fresh...We drank a bottle of the Manabito Kimoto Junmai Ginjo with our dinner, an excellent pairing for the different plates. The umami of the Sake went well with the umami of our foods. Give this Sake a try.” [The Passionate Foodie]

The 87-cent Top Ramen Is Better News: One Yelper was rather unsatisfied with his or her bowl of pork belly ramen, claiming it was, "Terrible. Broth had no flavor. Also, the noodles are NOT ramen. So, a big disappoint [sic] if you are thinking of the Japanese style ramen. Packaged Ramen that you get from CVS was better than this." Yikes. As for the decor? The same reviewer was equally displeased: "The best part of the restaurant was the bathroom. The bathrooms are all white, glossy interior! Seriously, I wanted to eat in here vs. the awful plywood and black paint job out there." [Yelp]

The This Food Makes Me Question Life (and Jazz) News: The Boston Phoenix's Robert Nadeau wasn’t sure what to make of Yeo's fusion, but he was pretty sure he liked it: "...we passed over Yeo's family 'silver pin noodles' for mushroom chow fun, kai lan ($14). Now this is fusion with a capital F, because the mushrooms are a mix of shiitake and portabella, with some little Asian caps thrown in, and the pasta is actually more like a fresh, whole-wheat papardelle? Are well-made papardelle better in this dish than the wok-seared, hand-cut sheets of rice noodle would be? It is one of those subtle questions in life, like what was the best line-up of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: the one with Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan, or the one with Bill Pierce and Wynton Marsalis?” [BP]

The High Expectations, Disappointing Reality News: The Globe's Devra First really, really wants to love Moksa, but with its lack of consistency it ain't happening right now: "Near-excellence: Uyghur-style lamb with bell peppers, bok choy, and rice ‘gnocchi,’ flat ovals that resemble the Korean rice cakes tteok. The meat tastes like smoke and spice, cumin and coriander and chili, juicy and wondrous. The gnocchi are mushy and gummy, sticking to the roof of the mouth like paste. They keep this from being one of the best dishes I’ve had all year...I want Moksa to pull itself together. I want food that is hot, sour, sweet, and salty all at once, that makes my taste buds do the wave. I believe Yeo can achieve this. But it’s getting harder to keep the faith." [BG]

The Food Plus Disco News: Over at STUFF, MC Slim JB was impressed with Moksa’s inspired food and cocktails; the addition of disco (understandably) increased his enthusiasm: "[Yeo's] Uyigur lamb ($15) is still an utter knockout, a dish inspired by the wild frontier and Muslim cookery of remote northwestern China. Chunks of lamb dusted with dried cumin, coriander, ginger, and chili are stir-fried with bell peppers, garlic, bok choy, and chewy flat disks of rice gnocchi...Add to it a spacious patio comfortably set back from Mass Ave, Inthasuwan’s terrific bar program, and Naga’s thumping disco, and the result is rare combination: fine and fun eating, drinking, and dancing under one roof." [STUFF]

The Overall Negative Experience News: Both service and food were lackluster for one Eater commenter: "i found moksa to be very meh with poor service. every time a dish was carried out, the server had no idea where the dish was going. our waitress didn't tell us the specials. we overheard them from another table after we had placed our order. dishes were uneventful and often cold. staff didn't seem enthused about being there or the food. [sic]" [EBOS]

The Spicy Drink News: A foursquare-er gives one of Inthasuwan’s creations a wholehearted recommendation: “The Snap Dragon is the perfect drink to accompany your meal: spicy enough to pace your dinner, but won't burn away your taste buds.” [Foursquare]

The Perplexing Pho News: The Improper Bostonian’s B.N. Lee can’t seem to make sense of the food at Moksa. Some dishes are fifty percent delicious and fifty percent inedible, while some are all fat and no flavor: “My fortune ran out with the steamed bun with miso eggplant ($6). The bread itself was fantastic, pillowy with an underlying sweetness, but the eggplant was unbearably salty and undercooked. The worst dish, however, was the pho. The broth was perplexing in being both fatty, as the layer of grease attested, and flavorless. Over-boiled turnips floated among wedges of lime, their skin a depressing shade of brown in the murky soup.” [TIB]

Moksa

450 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

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