Thursday, May 5, 2011

Momofuku Ko Review...Finally

That's it for the pictures!
I've been trying to get reservations at Momofuku Ko for every trip back to NYC since it opened in 2008 without success. Somehow I got lucky this trip and snagged reservations for the first seating last Monday night. Momofuku Ko is a tiny 12 seat restaurant in the East Village in the original Momofuku Noodle Bar location on 10th and 1st Avenue. I've been a big fan of David Chang since the early days; Momofuku Noodle Bar and the Ssam Bar were two of my go-to restaurants, particularly when I lived walking distance away in Noho. I've been anxious to try his high-end, prix fixe restaurant as he's such an innovator and trailblazer and I approach to modernizing Asian cuisine. The Ko experience definitely did not come cheap; the price has gone up from $85 when it opened to $125 for 10 courses. There are all sorts of annoying "rules;" reservations are only via an online reservation system where reservations for two seatings are released 7 days in advance at 10am Eastern and get snapped up within seconds (gotta have a fast internet connection). They call to confirm several times and you have to bring an e-mail printout of the reservation plus you may be asked to show ID. No pictures are allowed and they frown upon notes and don't provide menus. Service was polite: the chefs would answer questions when asked, but nothing more; they definitely prefer not to engage with the customers even though all the cooking and assembly is done in front of the customers at the bar. Here's what we had to the best of our recollection:
  • Trio of amuse bouches: Chicharones, poached duck breast with a black sauce, fried soft shell crab with pea puree
  • Scallops with avocado mousse, thinly sliced radish and cucumber ice
  • Branzino with broccoli flowers and a sesame topping
  • Lamb ribs in spicy daikon broth with potatoes, fried artichokes and roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Smoked runny egg with Missouri caviar, onions and pineapple
  • Frozen / cold foie gras shavings with lychee and riesling gelee
  • Fresh macaroni with chorizo, octopus, peas and pea shoots
  • Halibut pepperoncino marmelade with fiddleheads and pear
  • Deep fried short rib with grilled ramps, pickled red onion and braised spring onion
  • Honey sorbet with lemon thyme creme and frozen milk
  • Rhubarb with pistachio gelee, sweet brittle and goat cheese gelato
All in all, the food was unique and tasty with unusual and creative flavor combinations, seasonal produce, and some modern technique. They used spice / heat, textures and acid well to keep the food exciting and balanced. My favorites were the foie gras which looked like dry chocolate shavings but melted in the mouth to feel and taste like foie gras and the contrast with the sweet lychee and riesling gelee was delightful; the runny egg with caviar was savory and delicious (duh, can't go wrong); and the lamb ribs which were something new for me, reminded me texturally and flavor-wise of pork belly with a daikon broth that had a nice heat and lots of nice smoky vegetables for a little crunch. The desserts were also quite good, not too sweet, but creative and a nice end to the meal. They offered a $95 wine pairing, but we ordered a couple of wines by the glass that matched the progression of the meal including a sparkling wine from Piemonte, a white Cabernet Franc from France, a white burgundy and a Grenache Syrah from France. Overall, a really good meal with a couple of really memorable dishes and I'm glad I went. Definitely a big splurge; the most expensive meal I've had in awhile. I didn't think it was quite as refined or overwhelmingly amazing as some of the more memorable meals we had in Spain, which were incidentally also a lot cheaper. After dinner, we headed to Angel's Share for a couple of cocktails for the perfect nightcap.


  1. I want to go to momofuku ssäm bar!

  2. I really like ssam bar; it's a little random and eclectic, but most everything is really tasty. He uses big flavors in all his food, there's nothing subtle about it. There really wasn't anything like it in LA (closest thing now is A-Frame, but it's still different) so I used to try and visit Ssam on every NYC visit.



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