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Babbo v Momofuku Ko

Heeney Oct 24, 2009 06:33 AM

If you had to chose between the two places for dinner, which would it be and why? They both seem to get similar ratings everywhere (except Michelin). And I find myself in a bind to choose one.
I'll be in NY in a month and I want to go to Jean Georges and either Babbo or Ko.
Which would you recommend?
As another option, should I drop Jean Georges and do both Ko and Babbo?

I don't have a Ko reservation yet. But I feel confident and this is a hypothetical question assuming I have one.

Thanks!

  1. Heeney Nov 8, 2009 03:47 PM

    Wanted to touch back on this. Here is mu current status:
    I have reservations at L'Atelier our first night, and Per Se on our 4th (and last night). Those are set in stone.
    For our second night I have reservations at Babbo (that busy signal is a nightmare). And on the 3rd night I have reservations at JG.
    I also have dinner reservations for Ko on both the 2nd AND 3rd night (what can I say, I have quick reflexes and good broadband)!
    I should preface this by saying that Babbo, Ko, and JG are all no-goes for us for lunch. We just won't be able to work it into our plans.
    Soooo...which one should we drop? Babbo/Ko/or JG? The fact I have two Ko reservations means I can do any 2 combo of those 3. So I'd like to hear which one you would drop.
    I'm leaning very heavily to keeping Ko. Given the fact its probably the most creative one.

    -----
    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    5 Replies
    1. re: Heeney
      ellenost Nov 8, 2009 04:14 PM

      Definitely keep Ko (I'm a big fan of Ko). I would keep Jean Georges (I've always had excellent meals at JG, and their current menu looks delicious), and lose Babbo (I've read many mixed and negative reviews about Babbo on this board). Have a wonderful time (I look forward to your reviews).

      -----
      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Jean Georges
      1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

      1. re: Heeney
        hcbk0702 Nov 8, 2009 05:42 PM

        I'd keep Momofuku Ko and Jean Georges as well.

        -----
        Jean Georges
        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

        Momofuku Ko
        163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: Heeney
          steve h. Nov 9, 2009 10:07 AM

          I'm a big fan of Babbo. Pig parts, pastas and wines hit all the right notes with me. Leave the JG, take the Ko.

          -----
          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

          1. re: Heeney
            ChefJune Nov 9, 2009 12:52 PM

            I'd keep Ko and Babbo. JG is excellent, to be sure, but the other two are more "unique."

            -----
            Babbo
            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

            1. re: ChefJune
              k
              kathryn Nov 9, 2009 06:23 PM

              I agree.

              Go to Babbo and Ko.

              Why? You won't be able to get into Ko again. And it's a pain to get into Babbo. You can easily get into Jean Georges again, especially using OpenTable.com.

              -----
              Babbo
              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

              Jean Georges
              1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

          2. r
            rrems Oct 24, 2009 09:43 PM

            If you can't get into Ko, you might try Degustation. The food may be different, but both offer multiple-course tastings, both have counter seating (with chairs at Degustation vs. stools at Ko), and both are innovative.

            1. h
              hungrycomposer Oct 24, 2009 09:00 PM

              In a perfect world, Babbo and Ko for dinner, and JG for lunch is a perfect itinerary. If getting reservations is impossible at Ko, don't overlook the other Momofukus. I had the $30 prix fixe at Noodle bar tonight. (It changes daily, tonight it was steak tataki, pork belly and oyster congee, roast duck breast and soft serve) Although it couldn't be as spectacular as a meal at Ko, it was pretty fantastic by any standard. You can also put together a ko-like meal at the ssam bar. They don't take reservations, but if you arrive at non-peak hours there shouldn't be much of a wait for two. I'd also be flexible about when to go to Katz's, their hours are long so you could fit it in when you have time.

              1. hcbk0702 Oct 24, 2009 07:56 PM

                I'd stick with Momofuku Ko. It's a unique NYC experience and it's arguably a harder reservation to get than Babbo. David Chang has his own style, and I don't think you'll find another restaurant with the same type of food.

                If you can, I'd keep Jean Georges on your itinerary too. The lunch is a great deal and I'd strongly recommend displacing Serendipity if at all possible. That place is pretty much a joke from a food perspective. Eleven Madison Park is also a great lunch deal if you have better luck getting reservations there. Also consider lunch at SHO Shaun Hergatt.

                1. e
                  edwardspk Oct 24, 2009 05:34 PM

                  If you can't get a reservation at Babbo or Ko, you should give SHO a try. It is an amazing new restaurant where you can still get reservations. And I have every idea once it finally gets review by the NY Times, reservations will be hard to come by. Ate there a couple weeks ago for the first time, and had a fantastic meal.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: edwardspk
                    l
                    livetoeatnyc Oct 24, 2009 09:21 PM

                    If Babbo doesn't work out for you, and you're looking for great Italian food, I would try Marea. I went there before it got its 3 stars in the NY Times this week. It was AMAZING. Much better than Babbo which I've been to a multitude of times. The octopus pasta with bone marrow and the uni spaghetti were to DIE for. Read the review and see if it sounds appealing -- reservations are easier to come by than Babbo and the location and ambiance are very nice, whereas at Babbo you could be listening to hard rock while drinking a $300 bottle of wine.

                    As for KO you might want to consider lunch. From what I hear that is the more extravagant offering of the day -- ie lunch costs $175 and is a 3 hr meal vs dinner at $125 and 2 hrs. It may also be slightly easier to get a lunch spot than dinner.

                    1. re: livetoeatnyc
                      r
                      rrems Oct 24, 2009 09:39 PM

                      I have not yet been to Marea, and it may be a good alternative, but it is very expensive. Convivio, which has the same chef, is more in line with Babbo in terms of price, and you still get Michael White's amazing food.

                      1. re: rrems
                        l
                        livetoeatnyc Oct 25, 2009 08:03 AM

                        IMO Marea is by far superior in food quality/prep to Convivio. I've tried many of the dishes at Convivio and only a few apps and 1 pasta (the fusilli) stand out. At Marea everything our table tried was outstanding.

                        1. re: livetoeatnyc
                          r
                          rrems Oct 25, 2009 08:49 AM

                          I don't doubt that Marea will be superior to Convivio and Babbo. My point was that it will cost much more ($89 for 4 courses vs. $59 at Convivio).

                  2. Heeney Oct 24, 2009 08:17 AM

                    As requested, here is a rundown on our chow-ing plans in NY:

                    Day 1(Wednesday): Get into LGA by about 10 am and check into hotel. Lunch at Katz Deli (I have to have the Pastrami), then dinner that night at L'Atelier. L'Atelier has to be the first night because that's my wife's birthday and she worships Robuchon.

                    Day 2 (thursday): Lunch at Sushi Yasuda and I have not yet planned dinner. Maybe Babbo.

                    Day 3 (friday): Lunch at Serendipity 3 (I'm not psyched about this but the wife's birthday request is a frozen hot chocolate, and I'm happy to oblige), the dinner is undecided. Maybe Ko.

                    Day 4 (Saturday): for our final night we wanted Per Se, and it's an early reservation at 5:45, so I want to go in hungry. So I thought it would be a light lunch (maybe take a guilty pleasure with Gray's Papaya).

                    Day 5(Sunday): our flight does not leave till 6 pm. But Jean Georges is closed for lunch Sunday.

                    Not so much budget restrictions (I won't be going to Masa though). But I also want to make sure I don't spend the entire trip sat in a restaurant (which is why the 3 hour Ko lunch, which sounds great, may not work for us).
                    Also, I worry about having EVERY night be some kind of Michelin 3 star night, (I worry that we might desensitize ourselves for how fantastic Per Se should be in our final night.)

                    Any tips are greatly appreciated!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Heeney
                      k
                      kathryn Oct 24, 2009 09:23 AM

                      Why not do lunch at Jean Georges on Friday or Saturday, and get frozen hot chocolate after lunch or after dinner one of those days? That way you can have your meal someone and then go to Serendipity for dessert afterwards, and end up trying more places.

                      I would also definitely have a backup plan if you don't get into Ko since the demand is so high -- if can take native New Yorkers months to get into Ko. I usually don't recommend Ko for out of town visitors who are only in town for a few days. I have a friend who doesn't live in NY, kept trying and trying and trying, and only when he finally got in, did he book a trip to New York.

                      1. re: kathryn
                        Heeney Oct 24, 2009 09:36 AM

                        kathryn, I was thinking the same thing. But from what I hear, the wait to get a dessert at Serendipity can take hours (which we don't want to spend), and the only way to reserve is to go for lunch.

                        As for Ko, I will make sure to have a backup res somewhere else. I'm leaning towards not changing any lunches and doing L'Atelier, JG, Babbo, and Per Se. I will try and score Ko the same night as Babbo and then just make the tough decision before I fly in.
                        I could always do JG Saturday instead of a quick dog at Papaya for lunch...but then again my Per Se res is early, and the thought of lunch at JG followed soon after by dinner at Per Se almost sounds like overkill (but delightful overkill). :)

                        1. re: Heeney
                          Wilfrid Oct 24, 2009 10:03 AM

                          Note you have much the same problem with Babbo as with Ko - it's very hard indeed to get a reservation, although you might get a 5pm or a 10pm. Your fallback is to go to Babbo before it opens, hang around outside, then grab seats in the bar. If you plan on a reservation at Babbo or Ko, the very strong odds are that you'll get neither.

                          1. re: Wilfrid
                            a
                            a213b Oct 24, 2009 05:48 PM

                            Just want to echo Wilfrid and Kathryn with regards to the difficulties of getting a res at either Ko or Babbo. You should absolutely have backups those nights.

                            I would book Scarpetta as a backup to Babbo, and maybe a place like ... hmmm ... well, there really is nothing like Ko. Maybe Degustation (which I despised, but others love so I tend to think it was just a disastrous night for them when we went)?

                            Personally, I still think Daniel and EMP are phenomenal meals (as well as SHO) ... even at dinners, you can do 3 course prix fixe menus, which while not cheap are certainly more than fair values for the food, service, and experience you will get.

                            For places a bit more casual, I like Little Owl (also a tough res), Spotted Pig, Aldea, Commerce ... I'm sure there are more we can give you if you'd like.

                            I DEFINITELY agree with you about two points with regards to Per Se; 1) do NOT do JG that day for lunch, I can't imagine a worse idea in terms of meal planning; and 2) kind of as a follow up to one, I would definitely plan on eating light that day ... Per Se is a LOT of food. It took my wife and I a couple of days to recover from a recent meal there, and I remember feeling like I was overflowing by the end of it.

                            1. re: a213b
                              lynnlato Oct 24, 2009 07:00 PM

                              Agreed w/ regard to Per Se. We went for lunch a couple of years ago and it was something like 12 courses and 3.5 hrs. Enough food to last you all day (we had a light breakfast beforehand). It was an experience of a lifetime and one I am so glad we took the time and money to have.

                              I am a hug Chang fan and love Noodle bar and Ssam. I've not been to Ko yet but again, I would definitely make the effort to go. I've been to Babbo but only had a glass of prosecco and chickpea. My friend and dining companion fell ill and we had to leave. :-( On a return trip we did dine at Casa Mono and it was mind-blowing! Delicious - everything! Razor clams, sweetbreads, quail egg, lardons, potatoes & truffles - wow. I would highly recommend Casa Mono too. Another option is Bar Boulud where you can go, sit at the bar and have a lovely snack of pates & charcuterie and a lovely pear martini.

                              1. re: a213b
                                o
                                ooglewoogle Oct 24, 2009 07:28 PM

                                I concur. Next time we do Per Se I will eat nothing all day. We tried to keep it light before our visit, but we were still struggling by the end of the meal...and I consider ourselves big eaters.

                                Maybe a few chips to stretch the stomach (Joey from Friends reference) ;)

                        2. re: Heeney
                          r
                          rrems Oct 24, 2009 09:48 PM

                          You could substitute Perry St. for JG, as it is open for lunch on Sunday. It's less expensive too, and though the food is not quite like JG, it is very good (it is owned by JG). It's one of the better lunch deals around.

                        3. a
                          a213b Oct 24, 2009 06:43 AM

                          If it was me, I would absolutely do Ko over Babbo. It's so much more inventive, and I really feel there is such amazing Italian (both Northern and Southern) in the city that you could get as good of a meal as Babbo at somewhere else, if not better (e.g. Scarpetta).

                          That being said, I would change Jean Georges for Daniel or Per Se if it's a dinner res, as those both are far, far better, and if you still want to do JG I would do it for lunch (each course is $14) -- though in truth, instead of JG, I would do EMP for lunch ... I had yet another outstanding one there yesterday.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: a213b
                            Heeney Oct 24, 2009 06:51 AM

                            Thanks a123b,
                            I actually have a reservation at Per Se for while I am there and am very excited since I've been dying to get in there for a few years.
                            We will actually be in NY for 4 nights for my wifes birthday and the two places we are certain of is Per Se and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (the Paris location is my wifes favorite restaurant in the world.)
                            That leaves 2 nights and lots of choices, which I narrowed down to Babbo, Jean Georges, and Ko.
                            Would you suggest Babbo and Ko for dinner and JG at lunch?
                            Just trying to see what everyone else would recommend.

                            1. re: Heeney
                              a
                              a213b Oct 24, 2009 06:53 AM

                              Yes, if those are three places you want are certain you want to get into, then I would definitely say do Babbo & Ko for dinner, and JG for lunch.

                              1. re: a213b
                                Heeney Oct 24, 2009 07:24 AM

                                Which other places would you suggest? I had been looking at EMP and Daniel. I had read that Daniel is a bit more "formal" than the others and I don't know as much on EMP than Jean Georges.

                                1. re: Heeney
                                  a
                                  a213b Oct 24, 2009 07:46 AM

                                  Daniel is definitely formal; jackets required for men. My wife and I had an absolutely PHENOMENAL meal there earlier this week, and as I said we had yet another outstanding lunch at EMP yesterday.

                                  It might help if you post your planned itinerary, with what meal spots are still available, so we can help and give you some suggestions to consider to fill those. Also, any cuisines you absolutely will not do, or must do? And it doesn't seem that there are any budgetary restrictions, but definitely let us know if there are.

                              2. re: Heeney
                                Pei Oct 24, 2009 07:25 AM

                                Your slightly revised list is perfect. If you do Babbo and Ko for dinner, and JG for lunch, you will have pretty much the perfect high-end NYC food itinerary (to me, at least). Last time I visited I went to Babbo, L'Atelier, JG, and Momofuku's noodle bar. I loved each one and could I afford it Per Se and Ko would have been added to the list in a heartbeat.

                                As it was, I couldn't stomach anything but plain salads and light soups for a week after I got home. But it was totally worth it!

                              3. re: a213b
                                p
                                pmfine Feb 28, 2010 01:23 PM

                                I would be in agreement with Ko WAY, way over going to Babbo and would pick L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon over Per Se mostly due to the flavors and dinning approach. That is not to fault Per Se though, which is quite wonderful.

                                1. re: pmfine
                                  linguafood Feb 28, 2010 01:43 PM

                                  You DO know this thread is ancient, right?

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