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LES Is Now Home to a Momofuku Alum’s Take on a NYC Diner

Golden Diner modernizes and globalizes the diner genre

Green bar stools are located in front of a wooden diner counter, and the kitchen can be seen in the background Joyce Kim for Golden Diner [Official Photo]

The increasingly sceney area of the Lower East Side known as Two Bridges has gained another new restaurant, this one a diner from a Momofuku alum.

Golden Diner — at 123 Madison St. at Market Street — is from Samuel Yoo, who says he grew up in Queens eating at diners and wants to “preserve” diner culture but “in a more vibrant and fresh way that’s more something that today’s market would be interested in.”

To that end, eggs any way and matzah ball soup are on the menu, but so is a chicken katsu club sandwich and an Italian-style vegetarian hero with charred marinated yuba, greens, and a spicy red pepper sauce. For now, Golden Diner is only open for breakfast and lunch; the menu is below.

When dinner arrives, likely in April, expect dishes like a cumin lamb gyro with tingly cucumbers, cilantro, red onions, and pickled mustard greens pita bread. A beer and wine license is also on the way; after that, there will be a tight menu of two reds, two whites, a sparkling wine, and mostly local draft beer.

The chicken katsu club on a plate at a table inside Golden Diner.
The chicken katsu club at Golden Diner
Joyce Kim/Golden Diner

Yoo’s professional background is in fine dining at places like Momofuku Ko and Torrisi Italian Specialties, but he grew up in his father’s Queens restaurants that were open 24/7, diner-style.

“The whole point is to be affordable and approachable, try to have the whole neighborhood, as well as people who want to, eat solid food made well at not too crazy of a price point and no pretense,” he says.

The decor here screams diner, with an open kitchen, white formica counter, and eight seafoam green swivel bar stools. The other 20 seats are spread between diner-style booths and tables. Golden Diner joins an area of Manhattan that has had very stylized openings in recent years, including Mission Chinese, Kiki’s, Dimes, and Scarr’s.

Golden Diner is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. When dinner starts, it will reopen at 5 p.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Golden Diner

123 Madison Street, Manhattan, NY 10002 (917) 472-7800 Visit Website