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BryanZ

Momofuku Ko (Part 1)

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FWIW, I think FG nailed this one.

(LOVE those scallops. I don't care what Jesikka says.)

(They really DO need to work on the service.)


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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How was the striped bass cooked and how were the huckleberries used in the dish?  Were the huckleberries used in a sauce or served as whole berries?  How did you feel the tart, yet sweet flavor of the huckleberries accented the flavor of the fish?  Did the huckleberries overpower the fish? 

The fish was not cooked. It was raw.

The huckleberries were used in a cold thin sauce. It didn't overpower the fish (which to me is the miracle of the dish). So you got a kind of mellow fishiness accented with what you perfectly describe as the tart sweet flavor of the sauce. It's like the fish cuts the tartness of the huckleberries, while the huckleberries cut the sort of mushiness of the fish.

BTW -- That dish wasn't at Ko, but at Ssam Bar.

Thanks for the description. I agree with you the miracle of that dish is that the huckleberries didn't overpower the delicate flavors of the fish-especially raw fish. It is the concept of pairing those two ingredients that I found so intriguing. Thanks again. I'm going to have to experiment with this one. Thank the chefs for me next time you go in. Let them know a guy who picks wild huckleberries appreciates the manner in which they used them.

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FWIW, I think FG nailed this one.

(LOVE those scallops.  I don't care what Jesikka says.)

(They really DO need to work on the service.)

I think the scallops themselves are phenomenal. They are insanely delicious. It's all that dashi and saline action that I'm not that into. It tastes like I'm bobbing for (really delicious) scallops in the ocean.

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they were very good scallops...but I've had better (Yasuda's prep is insane).

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they were very good scallops...but I've had better  (Yasuda's prep is insane).

Yeah, who knew fresh lemon juice and sea salt could be so good (with scallops)? :wink:


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Just to clarify: the scallop dish on offer last night was essentially the fluke dish from the preview menu but with scallops as the sashimi. There was a dish that had the overly oceanic problem -- striped bass used in a preparation aesthetically related to the scallop preparation from the preview menu -- and I though it was the weakest non-dessert link in the progression for exactly the reason J didn't like the scallops. That being said, those powerful nori-type flavors are in the category of things like uni, monkfish liver and anchovies -- some people can't get enough of those flavors and others can't acquire the taste.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I’m glad that happened because, as we were chatting about favorite restaurants and other points of commonality it hit me that the Momofukus are today’s incarnation of Le Cirque, or at least what I imagine Le Cirque was like in its heyday. Of course in many ways Momofuku and Le Cirque are so different that comparing them seems bizarre, and I bet Le Cirque is the restaurant that Momofuku adherents are most likely to have contempt for, but each is a foundational restaurant for a certain place, time and culture. While all the Momofukus adopt a militant food-focused stance, the Momofuku phenomenon can’t be comprehended without reference to its clientele any more than Le Cirque can. In retrospect, just about every time I’ve dined at one of the Momofukus I’ve met new people and seen people I know.

I thought back to the time I was at Noodle Bar (when Ko was Noodle Bar) and wound up sitting next to Herve This’s editor from Columbia University Press. I later saw her at an Experimental Cuisine Collective meeting and a woman tried to introduce us. When we said we’d already met at Momofuku, the woman said, “Everybody meets at Momofuku!” What she meant was that the Momofukus are Le Cirque for today’s twenty- and thirty-something foodies (plus older folks who are exceptionally cool). As I approach no longer being a thirty-something foodie, it’s a pleasure to be part of the Momofuku moment.

Can you explain this Le Cirque comparison more clearly? My memories of the Le Cirque of yore consist mostly of joy in eating a perfect chocolate stove (they always fawned over me, but waiters tend to do that with overdressed children). I've always thought of Le Cirque as having been a "see and be seen" type spot, which I don't think Momofuku is at all. In fact, I basically think of the Momofukus as neighborhood spots that happens to be awesome. Are you suggesting that Momofuku is some sort of pick up scene?

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Underdeveloped service and uncomfortable chairs (backless stools at Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar are one thing, but they’re a backbreaking choice for a two-hour tasting-menu format) are the extent of my complaints about Ko.

Out of curiosity, how would you compare the service/seating to that of the high-end sushi bars in town?

The chef-customer interaction as Ko is, at present, an order of magnitude inferior to the chef-customer interaction at a great sushi bar. Many if not all of the best sushi chefs are dedicated to the interactive aspect of the role -- they're chefs, bartenders, psychoanalysts and teachers all at once. I certainly think the smart, capable, friendly chefs at Ko can grow into that kind of role, and at this point I think it's better that they've focused on making the food excellent rather than worrying about showmanship to the detriment of food. But evolution would be desirable.

Most sushi bars, even crummy ones, have more comfortable seats than Ko.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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But of course the best sushi chefs need to be chefs, bartenders, psychoanalysts, and teachers all at once because they're leading you through an omakase being improvised in collaboration with you as the meal progresses. A fixed menu, as at Ko, will never be like that experience.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Just to clarify: the scallop dish on offer last night was essentially the fluke dish from the preview menu but with scallops as the sashimi. There was a dish that had the overly oceanic problem -- striped bass used in a preparation aesthetically related to the scallop preparation from the preview menu -- and I though it was the weakest non-dessert link in the progression for exactly the reason J didn't like the scallops. That being said, those powerful nori-type flavors are in the category of things like uni, monkfish liver and anchovies -- some people can't get enough of those flavors and others can't acquire the taste.

I completely agree. The scallop dish last night was really the only misfire in the whole meal. The flavors didn't mesh well for me but that scallop..that scallop was the most delicious single piece of food I've ever had in m entire life. Perfectly seared, juicy, crunchy and soft. The first bite I took of that scallop I apparently made some sort of rapturous face and said "It's all about the scallop!". My dining companion immediately said I'm watching too much No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.

That shaved foie dish was no slouch either. That is officially a contender for Death Row "Last Meal".

Wine pairings didn't alwaus work but I will say each selection was uniqie and relevatory. Glad I had them. Pours were pretty uneven amongst our group.

Our server couldn't have been more polite but seemed easily rattled and a bit nervous. We sat at the "4 top set up" and also had a chance to see her interact with walk-ins and early guests. Even with only 12 guests its easy for the two servers/hostesses to get slammed. Very easy. I think it will get worked out but there didn't seem to be a floor manager all night and if one of the servers was the floor manager they seemed very green.

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Can you explain this Le Cirque comparison more clearly?  My memories of the Le Cirque of yore consist mostly of joy in eating a perfect chocolate stove (they always fawned over me, but waiters tend to do that with overdressed children).  I've always thought of Le Cirque as having been a "see and be seen" type spot, which I don't think Momofuku is at all.  In fact, I basically think of the Momofukus as neighborhood spots that happens to be awesome.  Are you suggesting that Momofuku is some sort of pick up scene?

I think the Momofukus are also "see and be seen" spots, but for a much different crowd. It's easy to forget, but Le Cirque was once not just a pickup spot, but at the pinnacle of the culinary world for a certain type of food. Where the analogy breaks down is that Le Cirque was always intended to be that kind of place, whereas the Momofukus have evolved into it gradually. But realistically, the Momofukus are no longer just "neighborhood spots that happen to be awesome."
The chef-customer interaction as Ko is, at present, an order of magnitude inferior to the chef-customer interaction at a great sushi bar.

Part of the difference is that the chef-customer interaction is at the core of sushi dining. One would not train as a sushi chef without learning this. But all of the Ko chefs are classically trained, and this paradigm is as unusual for them as it is for everyone dining there.

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I’m glad that happened because, as we were chatting about favorite restaurants and other points of commonality it hit me that the Momofukus are today’s incarnation of Le Cirque, or at least what I imagine Le Cirque was like in its heyday. Of course in many ways Momofuku and Le Cirque are so different that comparing them seems bizarre, and I bet Le Cirque is the restaurant that Momofuku adherents are most likely to have contempt for, but each is a foundational restaurant for a certain place, time and culture. While all the Momofukus adopt a militant food-focused stance, the Momofuku phenomenon can’t be comprehended without reference to its clientele any more than Le Cirque can. In retrospect, just about every time I’ve dined at one of the Momofukus I’ve met new people and seen people I know.

I thought back to the time I was at Noodle Bar (when Ko was Noodle Bar) and wound up sitting next to Herve This’s editor from Columbia University Press. I later saw her at an Experimental Cuisine Collective meeting and a woman tried to introduce us. When we said we’d already met at Momofuku, the woman said, “Everybody meets at Momofuku!” What she meant was that the Momofukus are Le Cirque for today’s twenty- and thirty-something foodies (plus older folks who are exceptionally cool). As I approach no longer being a thirty-something foodie, it’s a pleasure to be part of the Momofuku moment.

Can you explain this Le Cirque comparison more clearly? My memories of the Le Cirque of yore consist mostly of joy in eating a perfect chocolate stove (they always fawned over me, but waiters tend to do that with overdressed children). I've always thought of Le Cirque as having been a "see and be seen" type spot, which I don't think Momofuku is at all. In fact, I basically think of the Momofukus as neighborhood spots that happens to be awesome. Are you suggesting that Momofuku is some sort of pick up scene?

The specifics of Momofuku are totally different from the specifics of Le Cirque. Yet Momofuku is just as much of a social enterprise as Le Cirque ever was. Not see-and-be-seen social in the shallow sense but, rather, place-to-be social in the sense of being a central institution for a specific subculture.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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But of course the best sushi chefs need to be chefs, bartenders, psychoanalysts, and teachers all at once because they're leading you through an omakase being improvised in collaboration with you as the meal progresses.  A fixed menu, as at Ko, will never be like that experience.

The Minibar experience is quite dynamic and interactive, even though it's a set menu. Conversely, if you sit at the sushi bar at Yasuda or even Nobu and order even the cheapo lunch special you get a full hospitality experience from your sushi chef.

I also wouldn't be surprised, over time, to see more flexibility in the Ko format. Right now they're probably at the outer limits of what they can handle just getting the food out. I imagine that once they get more comfortable there will be room for some improvisation of the "Oh, so you like strong nori flavors? Try this dish, then." variety.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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To me, what's most exciting about Ko isn't what it is, but what it could develop into.

At a like stage of its existence, I thought the Ssam Bar night menu was nothing more than an extension of the non-noodle menu at Noodle Bar. And we all know what that took off into. Who knows what Ko will be like when it really gets going?

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Oh a little update on the egg. Not only is the egg not cooked sous vide, it's not even cooked in a low-temperature water bath. It's just boiled for four minutes in the shell, then peeled carefully. In the pictures, it looks a lot like the water-bath eggs at Noodle Bar but in reality the texture of the white is much firmer than that. Also, I can't recall if this was mentioned yet, the smoke flavor is added after cooking by placing the egg in a smoke-flavored water solution.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Also, I can't recall if this was mentioned yet, the smoke flavor is added after cooking by placing the egg in a smoke-flavored water solution.

I thought it had to be something like that, simply because the white of the egg was still so white. Thanks! I had been wondering...

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If a diner doesn't eat certain items (pork belly) at Ko and notifies the restaurant in advance, do they accomodate these type of requests?

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i'll report back after tomorrow; i strongly prefer no egg (unfortunate in this case!) and requested same. i'd be happy with the dish without egg, and i'll mention it again when the meal starts...

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The restaurant has not done a good job communicating on this point. On the one hand, there's the language on the main reservation screen telling vegetarians to get lost. On the other hand, when you get a reservation and move past the confirmation screen you're asked to note allergies and dietary restrictions.

According to our cook, they're eager to accommodate allergies and such, but just don't have enough different stuff in inventory to make an entirely vegetarian meal. It would be simple enough to say that all in one place on the website.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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When I was dining there on Monday, a gentleman next to me didn't eat oysters, so they replaced the oysters in the pork/oyster dish with a few pieces of smoked duck. So it seems they will try to accommodate requests.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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The reservations page says "we apologize but the current menu at momofuku ko does not accommodate guests who do not eat meat, fish or dairy."

I did see, however, during friends and family, someone who didn't eat foie gras get something else instead (tofu dish I believe).


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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The reservations page says "we apologize but the current menu at momofuku ko does not accommodate guests who do not eat meat, fish or dairy."

I did see, however, during friends and family, someone who didn't eat foie gras get something else instead (tofu dish I believe).

I saw the note on the reservations page but I found it little confusing and not fully addressing my question. Not accomodating guests who do not eat meat, fish or dairy seems not accomodating vegetarians to me. How about guests that eat fish, dairy but not certain meats(pork)?


Edited by gatilgan (log)

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I did see, however, during friends and family, someone who didn't eat foie gras get something else instead (tofu dish I believe).

Skipping the foie dish at Ko regardless of the altruistic reasons is a tragedy. When my dining companion offered me the rest of her dish last night because she couldn't finish it I felt like I'd won a Willy Wonka golden ticket.

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I saw the note on the reservations page but I found it little confusing and not fully addressing my question. Not accomodating guests who do not eat meat, fish or dairy seems not accomodating vegetarians to me.

Right. As Fat Guy put it upthread, their website tells vegetarians to "get lost."


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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