Mono + Mono owner Mihae Cho has been busy since a two-alarm blaze shuttered her East Village Korean fried chicken and classic jazz coop 17 months ago. After resettling in Jersey suburbia, she’s just opened Roosterspin (251 North Avenue West, Westfield, N.J.; 908-233-7333) opposite the railway station in Westfield, New Jersey, putting Mono chef Hyun Han back to work cooking up a new menu of appetizers, and twice-frying wings and drums non-stop during evening rush hour to satisfy the takeout demands of disembarking commuters.
Dine in and you’ll fast notice the origins of the restaurant’s name. Local artist Edmund Spiro sculpted the towering rooster that rises above the stairs leading into the main dining room, where a wall of classic jazz records, the passion of Cho’s husband and a lost staple of Mono + Mono, fill glass cases across the far wall. Beside the bar sit a DJ booth and keyboard belonging to the musicians who spin vinyl and perform on weekends.
And while Roosterspin is currently a BYO, it’s expecting a wine license next month and currently petitioning a nearby liquor store to stock Kooksoondang Brewing Co.’s Draft Makkoli. The unfiltered rice wine, sold in a plastic soda bottle, resembles 7 Up and is a household staple in South Korea, and it is starting to reach a new generation of drinkers, prompting Cho to offer carafes of fresh fruit cocktail mixers. Non-alcoholic drinks on the menu have a ginger kick to cut the chicken’s heat, including a pressed sugarcane juice and a supply of Jersey-bottled Wild Bill’s sodas.
To satisfy your appetite during the day and on weekends, when the chicken’s fried to order, Han’s introduced new appetizers, including kimchi fries and a trio of toasted rice sliders, which are petite crispy pressed rice cakes sandwiching layers of kimchi and tuna, thin slices of bulgogi beef, and cold shrimp-and-scallop salad. And while Cho seeks to give Roosterspin a separate identity from Mono + Mono, there’s a chance many of these dishes will appear on the menu there when the East 4th Street destination reopens in early November.