Over the summer Jeremy and I attended a fundraising event and won a gift certificate to Moksa Restaurant. Two months later we finally made it there. Located in Central Square in Cambridge, serves Pan-Asian style tapas, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late-night drinks.
Moksa is simple but chic. The long narrow dinning room has unusual lighting. The lighting shoots down in concentrated bursts, so that your table is either fully lit or left in the darkness. The front lounge, where the bar is located, is nearly as large as the dining room but there are only 3 tables near the front window. In the back there is a nightclub called Naga. Outside seating is also available during the warmer months.
The drink menu is creative and unconventional, in a good way. Uncommon and intriguing combinations such as Junmai Sake, cucumber, lavender, and silver needle tea (Silver Peony, $9) and American Harvest Organic Vodka, Boston Honey and Dry Sherry (Wilbur’s Cup, $10). I opted for the Ratonita ($10), a unique twist on the classic margarita, made with Reposado tequila, agave liqueur, and preserved lemon foam.
The menu is made up of unique small to medium sized dishes that are easily shared like tapas or dim sum. With an assortment of diverse Asian flavors on the menu – Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Korean, Indonesian, etc. – there is plenty to choose from. Gluten free and vegetarian dishes are clearly labeled on the menu.
We tried a couple of the offerings and were pleasantly surprised with the flavors of each dish. Everything had a unique taste and with the exception of the scallop sushi roll, we really enjoyed all the dishes.
First we tried the tuna summer roll ($7), which is made with a soft rice wrapper, then cut into 6 pieces and finished with a cilantro-lime sauce. The roll was light and refreshing, but the sauce was a bit too heavy on the cilantro.
Next we tried the vegetable pakora ($5), a traditional Indian dish made with mashed up vegetables, which are dipped in chickpea flour and then deep-fried and served with tamarind chutney. These were our favorite— simple yet flavorful. The chutney was sweet and sour and a perfect compliment for the pakora.
We really enjoyed the Chicken Pad Thai ($12) with beansprouts, peanuts and lime. We loved the subtle flavors and freshness of this dish. I also liked that the peanuts were put on one side rather than mixed in with the dish.
The Spicy Scallop Roll ($9) was very fishy and had way too much spicy mayonnaise sauce dumped on top. This was really an avocado roll topped with scallops, spicy mayonnaise, and fish roe. After taking off most of the mayo it was tolerable. Either order the sauce on the side or just skip this roll all together.
All in all the food was good, fresh, and flavorful. The prices are very reasonable and the portions are perfect for sharing. Our waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu and I really appreciated that the gluten free (and vegetarian) options were distinctly marked on the menu.