Chef Esther Choi, owner and founder of New York City’s mŏkbar and partner of Ms. Yoo, is an influential female chef driven by her Korean roots. With a personal passion for introducing New Yorkers to the flavors of Korean culture, Chef Esther’s cooking combines traditional and modern influences with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Mŏkbar has four bustling locations in the Chelsea Market, Brooklyn, The Hugh, and now a location in DC at Le Fantome. Each menu blends traditional and modern Korean recipes with a wide variety of Asian influences.
The popular restaurant received the Village Voice’s 2014 Reader’s Choice “Best New Restaurant ” and “Best Kimchi” in 2015 by Epoch Taste.
Chef Esther is a co-owner of Ms. Yoo, a food-driven pub where traditional American bar food and drink is reimagined with authentic Korean flavors, ingredients, and techniques. Zagat has declared it one of the city’s hottest new restaurants as well as Thrillist naming it the best place to eat during a Lower East Side bar crawl.
Chef Esther received formal training at New York’s institute of culinary education and has worked across the kitchens of ilili, La Esquina, and the Food Network. Since the 2014 opening of her first venture, in Chelsea Market, Esther has been hailed as “New Rising Chef” by Food Republic and in 2015 was named a “Zagat 30 under 30” NYC Culinary Rockstar. From2018 to 2019, Choi hosted Eater’s “The Kitchen Gadget Test Show”. Chef Esther can be found giving her culinary advice and expertise on a variety of shows from Beat Bobby Flay to being a finalist in Iron Chef. Her knowledge of Korean cuisine doesn’t stop at just food shows but extends to two hosting two podcasts Get Down with K-town and Hotline Offline.
Inspired by the old-aged techniques of her Korean grandmother’s cooking, Chef Esther believes that food is the ultimate expression of a country’s culture. From its history and social customs to its language, geography, and arts, Chef Esther seeks to offer guests an understanding and appreciation of Korean foods.