NYC: Momofuku Ko, A Flawless MealTuesday, September 16, 2014
The one word I would use to describe my Momofuku Ko experience is Flawless. I am talking like, Beyoncé, I woke up like "Nom Nom Nom Nom", #Flawless.
J and I were trying to figure out something to criticize about the meal and we came up with nothing. The entire experience was so pleasant, delicious and unpretentious that it has me longing for the next time I could come back to enjoy their longer, more expensive tasting menu at lunch. For the record, this doesn't happen to me very often, given the $$$ and the endless new places to spend it in NYC.
For those of you who don't know, Momofuku Ko is Chef David Chang's 2 Michelin Star restaurant. It's no secret that I love the Momofuku empire and as a part of my New York City bucket list, there was no way that I could leave without trying every single one of his restaurants. I mean, I've already been to (and blogged about)... Noodle Bar's Fried Chicken, Noodle Bar's Ramen, Bo Ssäm at Ssäm Bar, and Má Pêche. All that was left was Ko.
So why did it take me over three years to finally make it here? Part of it is like saving the best for last. Ko is the priciest restaurant out of the 4 mentioned. A 10 course tasting menu for dinner is $125, whereas their 16 course lunch is $175 (yes, lunch is longer than dinner!). The other part is that I just really needed to work myself up to it. I have always been a little apprehensive because I was scared it was going to be overrated. I figured I could avoid the letdown by just avoiding it altogether. I know, lame right?
But... honestly, how could I have thought this would be a letdown? There are two dishes on the tasting menu that are staples, and the Ko egg is one of them. From the time I first saw Chang make this on Mind of a Chef, I wanted it. A soft poached egg that's cracked, and spilling with caviar. I love the playfulness of the dish, down to the sweet potato vinegar that acts as blood (and a bonus that it acts to cut some of the richness of the dish).
Just too cute! You know, if you can call an egg bleeding out caviar "cute".
Unlike most of my other restaurant reviews, I won't go too much into each of the dishes of the night. Momofuku Ko has a "no photos" policy, which if you ever look on Yelp, you'll know that it's not TOO strict since people always have food pics posted. However, I decided to respect their wishes (for the most part, I just HAD to take a picture of the Ko egg to fulfill my foodie needs). I also didn't mind just taking it all in and enjoying my anniversary with J.
The pace of the dinner was fast, it only took us 2 hours to go through the entire tasting menu. I suspect this is made possible partly because they needed to get us out in time for the next party. They have two seatings for dinner, and by the time we were done, there was another couple waiting for our spot.
So, let's keep it simple with some bullets:
- Reservations: It was easy for us to make our reservation for 2 people on a Wednesday night. Just make sure you go on their site right at 10am ten days before you want your reservation. Make sure you have an account with them before 10am! It took us 1 try to grab a spot. People cancel their reservations all the time, when I last checked, there were 2 open reservations, one for 6:20 and one for 9:20.
- Booze: We got the effervescent (bubbly) pairing with our menu. Thought it paired excellently with the dishes, it wasn't overwhelming (aka we weren't drunk at the end). Would definitely recommend it.
- Favorite Dishes: Standouts of the night include the agnolotti with corn and an ancho chili base sauce that added some heat to the sweetness of the corn. The hanger steak with eggplant was also excellent. Meat is perfectly cooked, while the eggplant terrine was made to look like seared pork belly. Love! The most memorable amuse bouche for me was their deviled quail egg. Simple, but so delish and strangely have never seen it done before.
- Ambiance: Loved the intimate 12-person seating around the chef's counter. It was spacious enough where each couple got their own personal space and didn't have to bump into the person next to us. Everything was made and served to us by the three chefs of the night. Chef Joshua was SO nice and friendly to us. It made the meal more engaging and not super awkward since he was chatting with us about some of the dishes as he was preparing it right in front of us. Unlike most fine dining experiences, you don't leave this place feeling exhausted from it being overly stuffy.
- Is this the best meal of my life? Long time followers know that beyond my obsession with Chef David Chang, is my obsession with Chef Daniel Humm. In a previous post, I have stated that Eleven Madison Park has served me the best meal of my life. So how does Ko compare? If you're thinking about the two, it comes down to price point and the overall ambiance. EMP's tasting menus is $225, Ko is $125. EMP has a full staff front of the house to serve you, Ko has 6 employees total. If you're looking to make a huge occasion out of your dinner, I would say save up for EMP. Otherwise, if all you want is an amazing meal that's slightly easier on the wallet, please go to Ko ASAP.