Momofuku Ko NYC
New York City – From the Top of the Empire State Building (Photo Courtesy of my travel companion – Chelsie, Thank you)
Momofuku Ko NYC – Recently, I took a trip to NYC, for one specific goal, to EAT. And Eat I did and when i wasn’t eating, I did some sightseeing (while thinking about eating) and saw a broadway show (while thinking about eating).
My friend Chelsie was my companion during what i like to call the “NYC, Eating Extravaganza,” trip. I have been to NYC on many occasions, just not as of recently. So, my objective wasn’t sightseeing, except to accompany Chelsie, who had not previously visited NYC, during a few sightseeing excursions. The objective was to eat voraciously within a five day period.
With only five days, it was difficult to narrow down the choices, but it had to be done. I actually made an eating itinerary for the “NYC Eating Extravaganza” trip. This is the first review of many to come of the restaurants we dined at. I apologize for the photo quality, as I used my cell phone camera, which is old and most of the restaurants were dark, which made it very difficult to take quality photos. All opinions are my own, based on my one-time visit to these restaurants.
Restaurant: Momofuku Ko NYC
Momofuku Ko NYC – A little background, “Momofuku” is the name of the man who invented Ramen and means “Lucky Peach” in Japanese and “Ko” means “son of” in Korean. The restaurant is owned by restaurateur and chef, David Chang. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and is $175.00 a person.
I selected “Ko” opposed to Chang’s other famous restaurants, because I was excited by what I read online about the restaurant and the innovative dishes.
The menu was a “tasting” menu, which consisted of seventeen dishes. Seriously, seventeen, i had NO idea I was in for seventeen dishes. I arrived at 9:00pm and didn’t leave until 12:30ish. Granted most of the dishes where bite-size, but there were a couple “main” dishes. Most restaurants with tasting menus, don’t provide a menu upfront. As a result, you don’t know what is on the “menu” until they serve you.
I like the idea of not knowing, makes it exciting…..except if you have a food allergy. Which my travel companion does, Gluten. However, I advised the restaurant ahead of time and they were happy to accommodate.
Ambiance – trendy, the music was very eighties (think “Toto, Africa”- yep now I’m listening to this song as I write this) and the seating was bar style in the shape of a square, which provided a view of the center, where the kitchen was the stage. Guests could see all the dishes being prepared, right in front. This was my favorite part of the whole experience.
Service – overall service was decent, however it was a little awkward, due to the seating arrangements. When you wanted to talk to a server they would come up from behind you and you would have to do a 180′ in your chair, to speak with them. Or when they took one of your seventeen plates from you, they would have to reach around you, seventeen times.
Preparation – I must admit, about the fifth dish in, i was less and less impressed with the food. I felt the plating was sloppy, the color of the ingredients used where almost all the same color, GREEN. So much green, as you can see from my photos. “Can you give me another color?”
Ingredients – Too many winter ingredients were used. Many root vegetables, kale, and mushrooms were used throughout each dish. Why use winter ingredients when there is a bounty of spring and summer fruits and vegetables. Winter is long and so are the availability of these ingredients.
The combination of flavors were unusual at times. For example; “foie gras – lychee, pine nuts and Riesling Jelly,” the Riesling Jelly had an alcohol flavor (my guess is they didn’t cook down the wine, before making the jelly), which overpowered the light and buttery taste of the “foie gras.”
However, there were a couple of stand out dishes, of the seventeen – “razor clams – pineapple and basil” was my favorite dish. It had all the components of a quality dish from a two star Michelin restaurant. It was visually appealing, had various textures and the flavors complemented one another, rather than overpowered.
My least favorite dish from “Ko,” “orecchiette – octopus and olives.” The handmade orecchiette was chewy, pasty and thick. I couldn’t taste the delicate flavor of the octopus, it could have been sausage for all I know, but even sausage would have given the dish flavor. Also, it was odd to include this particular dish on the menu, as all dishes leading up to this dish, were “asian inspired.” And then you got, “orecchiette – octopus and olives.”
Overall – If I compared Momofuku Ko NYC to other restaurants i have dinned at in a similar category, based on rating and price, I would have to say I was disappointed. They tried too hard to be ‘different’ by combining ingredients that just didn’t work well together. The presentation of the food was flat and often times sloppy. I equate the plating similar to viewing a famous painting for the first time, only to realize the frame that surrounds it, is far more beautiful than the picture itself. Which was the case with the bowls and plates “Ko” used to serve their food on.
The service was good and they happily accommodated my friends Gluten allergy, which was a plus in my book. Oh, and I pretty much loved hearing “Toto, Africa,” I think I will listen to it for a second time during this blog post.