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Mooi in Echo Park slashes hours, seeks new investors (and serves a mean weekly prix fixe menu)

Mooi, the raw/vegan restaurant that opened this summer in the coveted corner space of Echo Park's Jensen's Rec Center, has severely cut back its hours in the past few weeks. If the neighborhood vegans were susceptible to high blood pressure, Mooi's darkened picture windows would have caused a few heart attacks. Especially because chef-owner Stephen Hauptfuhr is saying that if he can't find the support of new investors, Mooi could close for good.

For now the restaurant is operating on what Hauptfuhr calls "holiday hours," which means that while the kitchen is operating (Hauptfuhr uses it for catering purposes), the restaurant is open only once a week to serve prix-fixe meals. Hauptfuhr says his current investors will not extend beyond November.

For reservations for the once-a-week six-course dinner, e-mail Hauptfuhr directly at stephen@mooifood.com. Wednesday night's is Asian-themed, featuring curried coconut soup; a nori dragon roll; shredded carrot, purple cabbage and mung bean salad; Sichuan vegetable stir fry; pad thai; and papaya green tea ice cream. The cost is $25 for those who make reservations and $30 for those without (walk-ins are welcome but will be turned away if space is tight). There are two seatings, at 7 and 9 p.m.

On Nov. 19, Hauptfuhr will be whipping up an Italian-themed dinner and after that a special Thanksgiving meal.

You can follow the developments at Mooi on its Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Mooi, 1700 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 413-1100.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Jalapeno peppers with smoked paprika nut cheese and eggplant bacon, served at Mooi. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin  /Los Angeles Times

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Everybody should know that Yelp's business practices are not exactly on the higher plane. If a business doesn't pay them off., i.e., pay (a lot) for advertising on Yelp's website, Yelp will only publish the worst reviews! Several business owners that I know have told me that. So you have be wary about Yelp.

I have had only good experiences at Mooi, the few times I've been there. Their vegan ice cream is the best I've had.

The food on the website looked and sounded amazing, however reading the yelp reviews of the service lost my interest. I am not a service junkie but my favorite places never have any service issues. I can't help but wonder who hired such people and why such a poor sense of judgement. The Raw food subculture harbors a lot of condescending people who seem to be driven by their sense of purity. This may not be the case since most staff hired by raw restaurants are not eating 100% raw food if only one or two things on the menu. Whatever! It probably wasn't that great anyways!

I would recommend that people considering a meal at this sinking ship head over to a place called Tribal Cafe over on Temple/Union. Much better food, better price and chill atmosphere. No, I do not work for them. I just love their food!

Hopefully Stephen has hired an all new wait staff because poor customer service was this restaurant's main downfall. I'm vegetarian and live in Echo Park yet I never set foot in that place because of the terrible word of mouth from friends and poor reviews on Yelp.


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