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EMP or Ko?

I have a reservation for dinner at EMP on wednesday, but I just managed to get a res at Ko. Since I have to choose one, which should I pick?

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  1. I love, love, LOVE EMP, but Ko ressies are so hard to get that it must factor into your decision,

    That being said, what type of meal are you interested in? Ko will be, by far, the more inventive of the two. That being said, you will be sitting on a stool getting served by the chefs, with VERY limited interaction with them in terms of conversation (they ARE cooking, after all). The room is small, and there really is no ambiance to speak of. But the food is outstanding.

    Or there is EMP, which is in a beautiful Art Deco room, with a full service team dedicated to ensuring you have a phenomenal experience ... and the food is great, too.

    They are really quite different, so you need to factor in the type of experience you want, weigh the opportunity cost of not keeping a Ko reservation and whether you will have the chance to get it again, and determine what works best for you.

    Good luck, you can't go wrong either way!

    3 Replies
    1. re: a213b

      Thanks! This is a special bday dinner - my boyfriend is taking me to a restaurant of my choice. After agonizing over EMP vs. Le Bern, I finally chose EMP because I was really on the fence but I thought my boyfriend would enjoy the more varied menu at EMP.

      It sounds like EMP might be the better choice for my romantic bday dinner, though I am very hesitant to give up this Ko reservation. The thing is, because I am a student and can't take myself to expensive dinners all the time, I really do need to pick the more enticing restaurant regardless of reservation policy, because I don't know when I'd have the chance to go to either one again.

      Thank you so much for your help!

      1. re: mcm1900

        Yes, if you're looking for a romantic dinner, EMP is by far (I mean, exponentially) the better choice of the two.

        I tend to think of the two places as such: EMP is the classic fine-dining establishment, replete with beautiful ambiance, great food (though not necessarily greatly inventive), and brilliant (yet unpretentious) service. Absolutely let them know it is your birthday and they will make it all the more special.

        Meanwhile Ko, while not "low-down" or "dirty" is more of a food-centric meal ... really, you're only there for the food. It's like food porn, brilliantly flavored and inventive.

        For an overall amazing experience, EMP all the way. If you're a "best food at all costs, regardless of pretty much anything else" person, then Ko.

        1. re: mcm1900

          EMP is superlative. I know you'll have a wonderful time. Happy birthday!

      2. EMP is the one for this purpose. You'll both enjoy it very much!

        1. You have a choice between two of my most favorite (and frequented) restaurants. I've just had brilliant dinners at both Ko and EMP in the last two weeks (lucky me!). As much as I love Ko, if you're looking for a romantic private dinner (sitting at a table by yourselves), you'll be much happier at EMP. EMP has delicious food, lovely decor and the best service in NYC. Ko is about the food (definitely not a dress-up place); service is very attentive too and the food is brilliant. Both reservations are hard to get, so you should feel lucky to get both for your special day.

          1. I am a loser but what is EMP? Dined at Ko myself on a trip to NY and it was amazing. Not many places you can sit a foot away from your food being prepared and see how everything is done. It was the most amazing dining experience. The food was phenomenal. The chefs were super nice and talked to us about the dishes. It was surprisingly laid back. Which we really loved. Just because food is expensive and beautiful doesn't mean it has to be stuffy and pretentious. It was a really fun time and all of our dishes were amazing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dezineliz

              Figured it out. Sorry. I am from Chicago. So not down with the abbreviations. But I did figure it out.

            2. Go to Eleven Madison!

              3 Replies
              1. re: steakrules85

                Oh, c'mon Steak; you haven't been to Ko yet. In fact we should go together sometime. I know we'll never get our good friend RGR there, but you should try it once. Both restaurants are great in their own way.

                1. re: ellenost

                  LOL! Yeah, e., even if the food appealed to me (which, based on the menus you've posted, it doesn't), two to three hours sitting on a hard, backless bench.... :(

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Haha I know you love Ko ellen. But to be honest I have no desire to go there. My opinion of the whole "Momofuku" thing is been there done that. Ssam didn't wow me enough to warrant going through all the hassle it takes to get a reservation at Ko, having no freedom to order what you want, sitting on those benches, etc. And there are just too many other great restaurants that interest me (as you see in my post "Your 2010 Must try List").

                    But as I always say to each their own. You are entitled to your opinion and I would never tell you to stop recommending Ko if you love it. But for me, I do not even have to go to Ko to measure it against EMP. That is how great I think EMP truly is on every level.

                2. Thanks guys for all your help. I'm pretty heartbroken to give up my reservation at Ko, since a restaurant that is all about brilliant food is so appealing to me, but I think what's going to ultimately tip the scales is that my Ko reservation is this Monday night, and I have an exam on tuesday (I'm a graduate student) - not exactly ideal timing.

                  Does anyone want my Ko reservation? I'm not sure how to give it to someone else, but if there's a way I would love to give it to a fellow chowhounder.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mcm1900

                    i'm not sure the reservations are transferable, however, if they are i would absolutely be interested.

                    -chewbie

                    1. re: chewbie

                      Their site clearly states you cannot sell, transfer reservations. The person who makes it has to be present. Another reason Momofuku is a real hassle not worth it.

                      1. re: steakrules85

                        True, but doesn't mean it cannot be done. The times I've been they do not request photo ID; at most, it's just a copy of the reservation email they send the person who made the reservation.

                        It cannot hurt to try, me thinks.

                    2. re: mcm1900

                      Per a213b, I'm willing to face rejection if it doesn't work out. Please let me know if it's still available and, if so, how we can go about arranging. Thanks!