momofuku ko recently?
I'm going to Momofuku Ko tomorrow lunch and I was just wondering exactly how much it costs, and how much the wine pairing is recently (the current price). If anyone has been there recently for lunch, pls let me know!!
Went to Momofuku Ko for lunch a couple days ago.
Absolutely loved the food. We left feeling full, but not stuffed, and with a beautiful array of remarkable dishes. It reminded my DC of Ssam bar, but "more so", by which she means that each dish is complicated and intricate, but that each individual flavor can really be felt. I certainly enjoyed the open kitchen, and watching this complicated meal unfold in front of me. It was a special and enjoyable treat.
A few highlights included the "bagel" stuffed with chive cream cheese that accompanied the puffed egg in dashi. A very simple kanpachi sashimi that was lightly torched on top and accompanied with fennel and radish and a shiso sauce was very flavorful. The shaved fois gras over lychee and a Riesling gelee was all it has been cracked up to be. A gnocchi dish was ethereally light and airy while packing an intense flavor. Compressed pineapple and an interesting Vermont goat cheese made for a playful dish --- the cheese looked like little slices of pineapple and the pineapple was cut into little "cheese-looking" wedges. Green tomato sorbet was deeply refreshing. I could go on --- almost everything was wonderful. one or two dishes fell flat to me, but out of seventeen some courses, I don't hold that against them.
I will also mention that I don't eat shellfish or pork, and I mentioned this when I made the reservation, when they called a few days ago to confirm the reservation, and just as we sat down. The chefs couldn't have been any more gracious. It seemed like they enjoyed the challenge of making a David Chang menu without pork. =) The head chef also told me that he appreciated me telling them in advance. Some solutions were creative, such as replacing the oyster, which served as the bed for caviar, with a beautifully carved out water chestnut. I will say though, that on a few dishes the solution was to just leave the pork part off and not replace it with anything else. In some cases like the "bagel"
stuffed with cream cheese and chive, that worked wonderfully. Those flavors were already strong and dominant and bacon was hardly necessary. In another cases, such as fish that was topped with littleneck clam and torched squid, my plate was just left bare compared to my DC's. Is that a complaint? Honestly, yes. Given the ratio of chefs to diners (not to mention dollars to diners) something better could have been figured out than just leaving off the treif. That particular dish was one of the few that I felt fell flat. It's one thing if you spring it on them right before the meal starts, but this was plenty of advance notice.
One thing that I really did like was overhearing one of the chefs ask the other "so what was it he changed about this dish from yesterday?" I like the idea that I was eating not just "old-standbys" that had been tried and tested, but the vanguard of a carefully evolving cuisine with a creative force actively behind it. I don't think the various cookbooks in the bathroom are just for show. It's a really impressive library there!
I will say thought that there were a few small things that perturbed me about the "service-experience", however:
First, I don't like being asked to show the printout of my on-line reservation confirmation or a photo ID when I walk in. Is this the airport or something? Yes, I realize they might have a problem with people selling their reservations. But I don't care --- there are plenty of popular restaurants in New York, and I've never had to show an ID before anywhere else.
I also don't like their "no photography" policy. Their food is beautiful and I enjoy taking pictures, and I was sad that I couldn't take pictures of their food.
At the end of the meal, they gave us a beautiful little jar of Momofuku preserved vegetables. That was wonderful. But on my way out, I asked the hostess if she had a little Ziploc bag in which I could put the jar, as I was about to stuff it into my camera bag. She said that they didn't have a Ziploc bag and turned around to her computer terminal. Seriously? They don't have a Ziploc bag in the whole restaurant? No saran wrap? Nothing else to possibly wrap it in just in case it spills? Seriously? She couldn't have even humored me and pretended to look for a minute?
The chef who's station was right in front of us served us most (but not all) of the food. There was nothing "wrong" with his service, but it did feel somewhat robotic. I was hoping to experience more of the interactive banter that I had with the chefs at minibar in Washington DC, for example. Again, not so much a problem, but a missed opportunity. one of the other chefs seemed much more personable.
I really enjoyed the excellent espresso that I had after the meal. Somehow though, being charged an extra $4 for coffee after dropping $400 on a meal two for seems in very poor taste.
I also wish there were non-alcoholic drink options presented other than water. Dr. Pepper anyone?
And I know this sounds strange to say given that we had a three and a half hour lunch, but there were a number of times that we felt rushed. I guess what happens is that there are three seatings of four people so that the chefs work is staggered. And the two people sitting next to us were eating a bit faster than us. Still, I think they could have served us after some of the 12:15 people if we were taking long to finish a dish, rather than asking if we were done with a dish twice, and then bring out the next dish the moment we finished the last morsel on the previous one. I understand that they also start prepping for dinner right when lunch ends, but I do feel they could have made us feel less rushed without compromising the rest of their day.
Incidentally, although this didn't apply this time, why can you only reserve for 1, 2 or 4 people? What about 3 people? Three is a factor of twelve as well. What gives?
Would I go back? Sure. It was really great food, and I had a great time. I'd go back just to sit in the bathroom and read the two El Bulli "Yearbooks" on the shelf. (Cheaper to go to Momofuku Ko every day for a week than to buy these!) But will I continue to complain about the subtle ways in which I find David Chang's restaurants a little inhospitable. You better believe it!
I found it weird to eat at Momofuku-Ko. The food is really good and innovative, well maybe except the saffron 'jook' which I found pretty much tasteless and the combination just does not work for me. But facing the chef who has a blank look on his face for 2 hours is not fun in this open-kitchen meal.
I've had both the lunch and dinner at Ko many times, and was delighted to find out that they will adjust the menu for my sister who also doesn't eat pork. She's now had both the dinner and the lunch, and both times the chefs could not have been nicer.
Personally, I would rather have the chefs concentrating on the food preparation rather than making small talk with the customers. However, I've always found the chefs to be very approachable and willing to explain dishes and ingredients.
Even though I've started enjoying taking photos of my food with my new digital camera, flash photography would be incredibly annoying to both the chefs and the other diners since seating is so close.
No offense, but if you can afford $400 for lunch, you shouldn't complain about $4 for espresso; if you don't want to pay $4, don't ask for the espresso.
The meal is "choreographed" around four plates being served at the same time. If you have the 12:00 seating, you might experience a bit of a lag at the beginning of the lunch, whereas if you have the 12:10 seating, you might feel a bit rushed (only for the first one or two courses until everyone in the group catches up. The foursome catches up pretty quickly, and you'll notice that rest of the courses are served simultaneously to the group of 4.
You're right about the reservation for 3; I would be delighted to be able to fill in any empty chair.
I'm sorry to here that some people have had a rushed or impersonal experience dining at MK. We had lunch there 3 weeks ago on a Friday and it was extraordinary in every way. First, there was a rash of cancellations that enabled us to put together a group of five friends for lunch -- a reservation for 1 at 12:10, 2 at 12:15, and 2 at 12:45. We thought was pretty amazing luck given the notorious difficulty of the reservation system. When me and the 12:15ers got there, we explained that there were 5 of us in total but that our friends would be half an hour behind us. They graciously rearranged the seating so that the 5 of us were around the corner for easier talking, told us to tell the 12:45ers to come whenever they could, and that they would wait our meal for them, so that we were all on the same schedule.
We ate at our own boozy, delicious pace, finally staggering out as the last people there, no rush at all. (They were sweet and generous about letting 2 of my friends share a wine pairing.)
Not every course was a success, a rubbery gnocchi, notably, but enough was surprising and thoroughly delicious, sometimes cleverly so (the stuffed bagel roll served w/ the puffed egg "breakfast"), sometimes straightforwardly so, that it remains the most exciting dining destination in town for me.
The chef I had at lunch was not as chatty as the chefs working in front of me either of the time I had dinner there -- both of which times I ended up talking quite extensively w/ the chefs, but it was not impersonal, and he talked and responded to our inquiries when we spoke to him -- I felt that the reduced interaction was a function of there being 5 of us, and us having a lot of catching up to do amongst each other.
As for the pickled vegetables, I didn't worry about leaking and threw them (and several of my friends' jars) in my purse, despite thinking they were an odd touch. They were OK, but didn't really rank up there w/ the breakfast brioches given as a going away gift at the old Alain Ducasse or even the cotton candy I've been given at BLT Fish.
I just noticed on the Ko website that they're raising both dinner and lunch prices. Dinner is going up $25 to $125 and lunch is going up $15 to $175. I wonder if reservations will get any easier to obtain. I'll still go, but probably not as often What used to be a great bargain for fabulous food is becoming less of a bargain.
I noticed the price increase too. I'm so glad I finally got to go for dinner last week. It was all it was cracked up to be - maybe better. I would include the complete menu here, but half of the fun was the surprise and innovation: it would be a disservice to both the future customers and the chefs to give it away. Every course was delicious, every ingredient impeccable. My favorite was the fois gras torchon, my least favorite may have been the mirin biscuit. But in a lesser the restaurant, that mirin biscuit would have been a stand out. And somehow they managed to serve an octopus fritter just as "Octopus's Garden" came on (funny coincidence).
I found the pacing of the meal to be perfect, and I'm a slow eater. A little time between each course allowed us to move on to the next unique set of flavors with a fresh palate and a relaxed tempo. I also liked being served directly by the chefs. They weren't overly chatty, but they were professional, polite, and doing a great job. It was refreshing not to deal with a server selling extra courses or being obsequious for the sake of a tip.
Breaks my heart a little that the price is going up, $100 was a stretch for me already. But I'm guessing their costs have increased... Running a place that's limited to 24 covers a night must be a tough balance.
Yes, the short rib was awesome. But it was disturbing to see the cooks trimming and discarding the crispy bits - what a great late night snack that would have made! Then again maybe it did make a great late night snack for them... Another favorite was the uni with sugar snap peas, in a chilled dashi broth with seared pea greens.
I went with my 80-year old mom, for the perfect mother-daughter outing. It definitely dispelled the myth of the place being overhip or overhyped - everyone who worked there was welcoming, as they are in all of the Momofukus. They were patient with our questions (my mother is a retired chef, so there were plenty) and there was no vibe of intimidation whatsoever.
I also loved the uni with the peas (very refreshing). I'm so glad that you and your mom enjoyed Ko. I'd love to take my 85 year old mom, but she'd never manage on the stools. I just made another reservation for lunch. It's a three hour one seating 16 course event that I adore. No short ribs though - boo hoo! I find Ko very relaxing with no pretense. Only top restaurant that I can dine in wearing a t-shirt and jeans.