I was wearing a brand new pair of Keds, in a small town shoe store on Main Street. While my sisters were fitted for their new shoes, I held the binocular-like device and brought it to my eyes. Inside, a colorful 3-D image of a barn and farm leaped out at me. I clicked the button. In the next scene, a firefighter rescued a cat from a tree.
I was holding a 3-D View-Master, a device I had largely forgotten about until last week when a craving for the signature crispy Korean fried chicken of MONO+MONO lured me to the East Village. This restaurant is forward-thinking when it comes to food, but has a distinct vintage sensibility too. A total of 30,000 vinyl albums line one entire side of the restaurant–but they aren’t just for display. Through vintage tube amplifiers, the records are played and set the atmosphere for the space.
Owner M.J. Chung wanted to take this vintage style one step further. While some restaurants scramble for the latest technology such as iPads, Chung looked to the past for inspiration. Today, 3-D retro menu viewers officially premiere at MONO+MONO, setting the stage for guests to take a trip down memory lane. Before I raised the viewfinder to my eyes, I didn’t think it would be a nostalgic experience–in fact I was even a little skeptical–but the weight of it, the sound of the photo reel clicking between slides, it brought me right back to that shoe store, to grade school science class, to summer camp when these viewfinders were new and novel.
Chung smiled at the surprised looks on our faces after clicking through his custom photo reels. Not only do they showcase the restaurants signature dishes like soy garlic fried chicken, but they have an emotional impact too. According to Chung, MONO+MONO is “proudly old school” and took several years in acquiring the devices on eBay. This was the first time I appreciated seeing images of food before ordering. The retro presentation was a playful addition to a fine evening of Korean fried chicken and cocktails.
I’m told the fried chicken is even better for breakfast the next morning–but there was none leftover on my plate for me to bring home and find out.
All photos courtesy of Hanna Lee Communications.