Momofuku Ko

Dried apricots, almonds, peanuts, nori, bacon

House-made English muffin smeared with pork fat and garnished with chives

2006 Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Gris, Alsace, France

Fluke sashimi, toasted poppy seeds, spicy buttermilk, chives

Oyster, crispy pork belly, braised cabbage, kimchi broth

Coddled egg, soubise onion, potato chips, hackleback caviar, sweet potato vinegar, chervil, chives

Crispy chicken skin with togarashi pepper

Pan-seared scallops, yuzu viniagrette

Torchon of shaved foie gras, riesling gelee, lychee, pine nuts

Aftermath….

Deep-fried short ribs, carrot, daikon radish, scallion, pickled mustard seeds, fried parsley

Miso soup, grilled rice cake smeared with pork fat, pickled turnips and cabbage

Photo courtesy of The Wandering Eater.

Pineapple sorbet, chewy pineapple

Fried apple pie, sour ice cream, toasted miso, cinnamon sugar

The man behind the curtain.

If you’re a vegetarian or someone who doesn’t eat meat, fish or dairy, Momofuku Ko is not the restaurant for you. It’s a restaurant for omnivores by an omnivore. Hallelujah!

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow account of the meal which you can read about here, here or here. Note to readers — it’s only been two weeks since the posted date on a couple of those entries and there are already variations on a few dishes. The menu changes daily with micro-minor tweaks so that no two experiences are ever alike.

Out of 10? A very strong 7 to borderline 8 based on this first initial visit. There are a few things on the menu that seem almost stereotypical for New York-based chefs. Most places have a crispy pork belly dish. Everyone does something with slow-cooked egg. It’s a commandment that foie gras must appear. It’s difficult for me to get excited about any of these things individually but Chef Chang succeeded. He pierced my jaded veneer without even trying.

And yet, I’m reticent about becoming a Momofuku acolyte. The reservation system is absolutely insane. Seatings are only available online up to one week in advance. Each new day opens precisely at ten o’clock in the morning, Eastern Standard Time. A DSL, cable or faster Internet connection is mandatory. You’d best have the reflexes of a grasshopper since 90% of the reservations are gone in thirty seconds or less. That being said, it’s possible to reserve if you check for cancellations later in the day. You’ll still need to be superhumanly quick but at least your chances will improve.

If you can get your foot in the door, you’ll have a wonderful time. The menu is a celebratory revelation of all the things that aren’t good for you according to the food police. This is a restaurant whose time has come.

Momofuku Ko is located at 163 First Avenue (East 10th Street) in the East Village.

5 thoughts

  1. Hooray for things that are bad for you! It all looks pretty tasty. It does my heart good to know someone is flying in the face of the food Nazi’s.

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  2. I second that emotion. My afternoon meal consisted of house made onion rings, with a beer and buttermilk batter(paprika,garlic,and cayenne added)dipped in bread crumbs and flour before dropping them into the deep fryer. I fry at most, four time a year, and it’s always a toss up as to what I am in the mood for. Often, chicken, donuts or Okra, win out, but yesterday I went with the onions. They were heavenly.

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  3. Tony — The chef, David Chang, is rather famous for being adamant about not accomodating vegetarians. People with food allergies, yes. People with “control issues” regarding food, not so much. This isn’t meant to be a slam against vegetarians or vegans. Those lifestyle choices are perfectly valid. However, it’s refreshing to be able to go to a restaurant where I don’t need to listen to someone whining that there’s nothing to eat because of all the dead cows and chickens around them.

    Before my vegetarian readers jump down my throat, I should point out that the meat, fish and eggs that you see above are from local/organic, sustainable sources. The fluke is from Long Island and the pork fat is a by-product of Berkshire pork. The provenance of the food isn’t an issue in my mind.

    Tater — Fat and salt are where it’s at, amen. All things in moderation, blah blah blah.

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  4. Pingback: Momofuku Noodle Bar « The Spamwise Chronicles

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