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Momofuku Ko (Part 2)


Fat Guy
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That fill in most of the blanks?

Your memory is amazing, and I say that as someone who is occasionally said to have a good memory.

It's interesting to me to think about how to count the courses. The range is 17 to 11 depending on what you call a course. If you include the amuse and the dessert amuse, and you count each crudo item as a course, I think you get 17. If you rule out the amuse and the dessert amuse, and you count all the crudo items as one very long, involved course -- which I think you could argue they are, even though they're served in succession -- you get 11. I wonder what the restaurant's official line is on this? I imagine they call it 15 or 16.

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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There are a lot of people out there who can afford $330 for a meal, but how many of them want to sit on stools for three hours?

The lack of comfort is so easily fixable. I wonder why they don't do it. I mean, there's no reason why wooden backless stools could not become cushioned stools with backs.
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I have to say, I sort of want to call bullshit with this Ko lunch thing. The price point strikes me as utterly ridiculous and I can't figure out why if I'm spending that much money on a meal I'd be having lunch. To me this is the obvious way to cater to tourists who are desperate to have a way to get into Ko and who are in many cases being paid in Euros and thus the price tag isn't quite so hard to swallow. Unless I were being taken as a guest, I just don't see myself choosing to use the restaurant this way. Are you meant to go home and go to bed afterwards? Even if they were to fix the stool situation, they'd still have to justify the minimal service, lack of sommelier knowledge base and point of eating that sort of meal in the middle of the day. As someone who cares enormously about the success of the Momofukus, I'm happy to see them making as much money as people are willing to pay, but I can't see NY foodies availing themselves of the lunch menu repeatedly, if ever.

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So on last Friday I went back to Ko for my second dinner there. I think I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the first time. They got rid of the escargot lasagna which I remember being pretty boring for some great corn ravioli. Also they had both the egg caviar dish and the foie dish on the menu. I enjoyed both of them but the foie dish is really in a class of its own. I think it even topped the great foie gras dish at EMP. Finally they replaced the panna cotta with a deconstructed strawberry shortcake. The yellow cake ice cream they served with that was really unique and I left wanting more of it. One thing I liked more from my first time there was the soup course. The bacon dashi they are serving now is good but I liked the pea soup more. Also one of the cool things was that even though it was my second time there two of the chefs recognized me from my previous visit and I had a more interactive experience then I did my first time. I think I will be coming back soon (providing I can snag another reservation).

Edited by Ochowie (log)
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For all the reports of meals at Ko getting better, the one thing I can't get over is why they've stopped serving a different dish to each diner in each party of two. I'm fine with the dinner price hike, and even given my extreme skepticism with lunch I on some level appreciate that they're trying to raise the bar within their given concept. But why, oh why, would you ratchet back like that? At least let diners have the opportunity to try more and different things.

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I have to say, I sort of want to call bullshit with this Ko lunch thing.  The price point strikes me as utterly ridiculous and I can't figure out why if I'm spending that much money on a meal I'd be having lunch.  To me this is the obvious way to cater to tourists who are desperate to have a way to get into Ko and who are in many cases being paid in Euros and thus the price tag isn't quite so hard to swallow.  Unless I were being taken as a guest, I just don't see myself choosing to use the restaurant this way.  Are you meant to go home and go to bed afterwards?

Tourist or no-tourist, this is simply not a typical lunch anywhere in the world that I'm aware of. But he has a small enough space and a loud enough buzz that I suspect he could keep this format going for a good long time—certainly for many months. As for the long-term plan, I haven't a clue.
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I have to say, I sort of want to call bullshit with this Ko lunch thing.  The price point strikes me as utterly ridiculous and I can't figure out why if I'm spending that much money on a meal I'd be having lunch.  To me this is the obvious way to cater to tourists who are desperate to have a way to get into Ko and who are in many cases being paid in Euros and thus the price tag isn't quite so hard to swallow.  Unless I were being taken as a guest, I just don't see myself choosing to use the restaurant this way.  Are you meant to go home and go to bed afterwards?

Tourist or no-tourist, this is simply not a typical lunch anywhere in the world that I'm aware of. But he has a small enough space and a loud enough buzz that I suspect he could keep this format going for a good long time—certainly for many months. As for the long-term plan, I haven't a clue.

Momofuku historically doesn't worry much about the long term plan, but from what I hear these reservations haven't been hard to get. Perhaps it's too nascient to judge, but I'm not at all convinced that this format is sustainable.

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Going to a place and having perfect service, where you never need anything and always feel comfortable and they appear and disappear almost magically during your time spent, the courteousness...Ko pretty much lacks all of that. I've been several times and the girls pouring wine are polite enough or downright snotty depending on the day.

The cooks rarely smile, rarely want to talk to you and almost always seem like they'd rather not be serving you. I've been fairly recently too, and you'd think they'd be used to this enough to more pleasant.

I could understand this uncomfy stool/bar thing if you were to have an experience there due to the closeness with the chefs.

Instead it feels like I'm watching them through glass like they're in cages. Or like we're in cages and they pass food to us now and then to keep us alive.

Meh, I'll stick to Eleven Madison Park, Blue Hill, Perry St...where ever else I leave feeling like a million bucks...

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For a while now they've had two teams. The lunch brings it up to ten services total so each team can have a five-shift week. Either Peter Serpico or Sam Gelman (or in the case of our lunch both plus Chang) is, I believe, always there. I've not noticed any variation, and I've been a few times when Serpico wasn't there but Gelman was running the show.

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 haven't seen any difference depending on who is present, nor would I expect to. This is a professional operation with extremely talented cooks. As far as I can tell, none of the chefs is more chatty than the others, even though some know me slightly better than others. I don't find the chefs unpleasant as jasmineleilani does, but I do feel like I'm disrupting them when I try to engage them. David Chang is usually pretty social when he's there, and I've always had very friendly wine service.

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Maybe the guy we saw sneak the pic friday at lunch was Ryan Sutton:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=206...WWoM&refer=muse

I for one enjoyed that I wasn't overfull after the lunch.

FWIW, I find Sam much more chatty than anyone else there.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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Maybe the guy we saw sneak the pic friday at lunch was Ryan Sutton:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=206...WWoM&refer=muse

I for one enjoyed that I wasn't overfull after the lunch.

FWIW, I find Sam much more chatty than anyone else there.

Or Chris Goodney, who took the rest of the momofuku ko photos in that set.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Maybe the guy we saw sneak the pic friday at lunch was Ryan Sutton:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=206...WWoM&refer=muse

I for one enjoyed that I wasn't overfull after the lunch.

FWIW, I find Sam much more chatty than anyone else there.

Or Chris Goodney, who took the rest of the momofuku ko photos in that set.

Interesting that the one dinner photo is from April. The lunch photos are obviously recent. Has the photo policy been relaxed during the lunch service?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Hi folks,

Here is the lunch menu from the second weekend of service, I had a Saturday lunch reservation for one. I've pieced this together from memory, from a diner that sat to my left who took notes, from here and from Knowlton.

The biggest changes appear to be that they threw in an small otoro dish, and that they gave us a small jar of pickled vegetables (with a peach sticker on it) to take home after the meal. I'll post thoughts separately.

AMUSE

pommes souffles stick, creme fraiche, hackleback caviar

fried corn cup/tuile, pork rilletes, tomato jam

KAMPACHI

raw sliced kampachi, lemon jam, white soy, daikon radish sprout

FLUKE

raw sliced long island fluke, fermented chilli paste (gochujang)

OYSTER

grand island oyster, hackleback caviar "crust", lime segment

SCALLOP

julienne of raw scallop marinated in citrus, shiso, watermelon radish, roasted white peppers, soy "powder"

TUNA

"otoro" tuna tartare, american osetra caviar

LOBSTER SALAD

lobster meat, cantaloupe gelee, mini cucumber and melon balls, tomato consomme (or "water" if you prefer), hyssop flowers

CARPACCIO

beef carpaccio, grilled thinly sliced baby leeks, quark cheese with szechwan pepper, fresh horseradish, crunchy horseradish cracker pieces

butter bomb bread, black sesames

SALAD

fresh made yuba skin, fresh/frozen cherry tomato salad, shiso chiffonade, toasted crunchy black rice

SOUP

bacon dashi, bacon fat poached shrimp, matsutake mushroom, tonburi, cranberry beans

EGG

deep fried egg, cherries, cherry peppers, crunchy fried thin onion strips, mustard greens

FISH

corn drop soup "dumpling" (large raviolo), steamed black sea bass strip, lobster mushrooms, bok choy, toasted kasha

PASTA

buckwheat tortellini stuffed with eggplant puree, grilled baby eggplant, Korean black garlic, chinese long beans, pork and miso sausage "patty"

FOIE

microplaned frozen torchon of foie gras, pine nut brittle, reisling gelee, lychees (smaller than dinner portion)

MEAT

Elysian Fields lamb chop, feta puree, watermelon, dried black olives

CHEESE

Blackberry Farms Singing Brook sheep's milk cheese, Humboldt "fog" goats mik cheese, smoked cantaloupe puree, shallot marmalade, pork fat brioche

PEACH

white peach ice cream, milk crumbles, cinnamon streusel/schmear

CORN

corn-chocolate parfait, sour cream ice cream, freeze dried corn, chocolate crumbs, fudge schmear

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As for thoughts on the lunch experience:

Having had both lunch and dinner at Ko, I personally would be more eager to return for lunch in the future. There is the logistical issue of my preference for leaving a restaurant after a 3+ hour meal at 3:30 to 4pm rather than at 11pm or midnight. But it's also more than just that, lunch also seemed to be more... fun - everyone was more relaxed, more conversational (on both sides of the counter). We all knew there was 1 seating, that we'd be there together for 3+ hours, that no one was coming or going, and that these chefs were done for the day once they finished cooking. It felt more like a Friday afternoon at work as compared to the weekday dinner service which felt more serious and busy. The connection I'm guessing they were aiming for by having chef serve patron was more evident here. If you're a high end food critic, the execution dial didn't hit "3 star michellin french" (someone suggested that having Chang prepare your food get's you pretty darn close), but the food on the plate sets a really high bar for what is essentially a 3 man tandem busting it's ass for 8 hours (prep starts 8am or earlier) to bring you 17+ dishes.

For my shekels, lunch was simply better than dinner.

As for the food itself:

- I really enjoyed the scallops. The soy powder clumps up a little with the moisture in the dish and you get a really nice salty chew here and there to contrast with the white peppers and the citrus'y scallop.

- Quark cheese with szechwan peppercorn is comfort food delicious, as is the butter bomb bread. Was up there with the onion soubisse & red vinegar from dinner in terms of foods I wish I could throw together at home and eat out of a bowl.

- The egg was a disappointment, it just stood out as unrefined, although it was dressed up a bit. My inner whites were left raw, but that felt besides the point in this format. As a diner at the Momo's, you're left with the expectation that if something unrefined is ever presented, it's only because it's gonna be absolutely delicious as is, and this fell short of that.

- The lamb and the cheese course had all 12 seats buzzing. Granted, the chefs threw all the credit behind the exquisite tender lamb to the farmers (like they do with the bacon in the dashi), but the cheese course is exceptional in it's simplicity.

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As for thoughts on the lunch experience:

Having had both lunch and dinner at Ko, I personally would be more eager to return for lunch in the future.  There is the logistical issue of my preference for leaving a restaurant after a 3+ hour meal at 3:30 to 4pm rather than at 11pm or midnight.  But it's also more than just that, lunch also seemed to be more... fun - everyone was more relaxed, more conversational (on both sides of the counter).  We all knew there was 1 seating, that we'd be there together for 3+ hours, that no one was coming or going, and that these chefs were done for the day once they finished cooking.  It felt more like a Friday afternoon at work as compared to the weekday dinner service which felt more serious and busy.  The connection I'm guessing they were aiming for by having chef serve patron was more evident here. If you're a high end food critic, the execution dial didn't hit "3 star michellin french" (someone suggested that having Chang prepare your food get's you pretty darn close), but the food on the plate sets a really high bar for what is essentially a 3 man tandem busting it's ass for 8 hours (prep starts 8am or earlier) to bring you 17+ dishes.

For my shekels, lunch was simply better than dinner.

As for the food itself:

- I really enjoyed the scallops.  The soy powder clumps up a little with the moisture in the dish and you get a really nice salty chew here and there to contrast with the white peppers and the citrus'y scallop.

- Quark cheese with szechwan peppercorn is comfort food delicious, as is the butter bomb bread.  Was up there with the onion soubisse & red vinegar from dinner in terms of foods I wish I could throw together at home and eat out of a bowl.

- The egg was a disappointment, it just stood out as unrefined, although it was dressed up a bit.  My inner whites were left raw, but that felt besides the point in this format. As a diner at the Momo's, you're left with the expectation that if something unrefined is ever presented, it's only because it's gonna be absolutely delicious as is, and this fell short of that.

- The lamb and the cheese course had all 12 seats buzzing.  Granted, the chefs threw all the credit behind the exquisite tender lamb to the farmers (like they do with the bacon in the dashi), but the cheese course is exceptional in it's simplicity.

Finally got in, and going tonight. Any other EGers on the res list tonight?

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Hi folks,

Here is the lunch menu from the second weekend of service, I had a Saturday lunch reservation for one.  I've pieced this together from memory, from a diner that sat to my left who took notes, from here and from Knowlton.

The biggest changes appear to be that they threw in an small otoro dish, and that they gave us a small jar of pickled vegetables (with a peach sticker on it) to take home after the meal.  I'll post thoughts separately.

AMUSE

pommes souffles stick, creme fraiche, hackleback caviar

fried corn cup/tuile, pork rilletes, tomato jam

KAMPACHI

raw sliced kampachi, lemon jam, white soy, daikon radish sprout

FLUKE

raw sliced long island fluke, fermented chilli paste (gochujang)

OYSTER

grand island oyster, hackleback caviar "crust", lime segment

SCALLOP

julienne of raw scallop marinated in citrus, shiso, watermelon radish, roasted white peppers, soy "powder"

TUNA

"otoro" tuna tartare, american osetra caviar

LOBSTER SALAD

lobster meat, cantaloupe gelee, mini cucumber and melon balls, tomato consomme (or "water" if you prefer), hyssop flowers

CARPACCIO

beef carpaccio, grilled thinly sliced baby leeks, quark cheese with szechwan pepper, fresh horseradish, crunchy horseradish cracker pieces

butter bomb bread, black sesames

SALAD

fresh made yuba skin, fresh/frozen cherry tomato salad, shiso chiffonade, toasted crunchy black rice

SOUP

bacon dashi, bacon fat poached shrimp, matsutake mushroom, tonburi, cranberry beans

EGG

deep fried egg, cherries, cherry peppers, crunchy fried thin onion strips, mustard greens

FISH

corn drop soup "dumpling" (large raviolo), steamed black sea bass strip, lobster mushrooms, bok choy, toasted kasha

PASTA

buckwheat tortellini stuffed with eggplant puree, grilled baby eggplant, Korean black garlic, chinese long beans, pork and miso sausage "patty"

FOIE

microplaned frozen torchon of foie gras, pine nut brittle, reisling gelee, lychees (smaller than dinner portion)

MEAT

Elysian Fields lamb chop, feta puree, watermelon, dried black olives

CHEESE

Blackberry Farms Singing Brook sheep's milk cheese, Humboldt "fog" goats mik cheese, smoked cantaloupe puree, shallot marmalade, pork fat brioche

PEACH

white peach ice cream, milk crumbles, cinnamon streusel/schmear

CORN

corn-chocolate parfait, sour cream ice cream, freeze dried corn, chocolate crumbs, fudge schmear

Thanks very much for the detailed menu. I could never do it justice. I had lunch at Ko last Saturday, and loved it so much that I tried for another lunch reservation. I got extremely lucky and had lunch again today. I still love it. I prefer lunch at Ko over dinner since it is an extremely luxurious way to spend a weekend. Service is extremely attentive. People are friendly. Food is among the most creative in the city. Everyone knows that they're in for an unforgettable three hours. I look forward to returning in the autumn after the menu changes. I do hope they add the butter bomb as a regular part of the menu--it's unforgettable! :smile:

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Thanks to FG's tireless posting in the Momo Regulars thread, I stumbled upon an open seating for 2 on Sunday night (thanks, FG).

I have to chime in an say that the sweet corn ravioli is fantastic, and I also loved the Muscovy duck. The shaved foie remains great as does the soft-cooked egg, and spicy fluke in buttermilk. And my fiance was practically licking the remnants of his yellow cake batter ice cream at the end. But my favorites were the corn ravioli and duck.

Sweet corn ravioli, charred corn kernels, diced chorizo sprinkled on top, crumbles of cotija cheese, pickled red onion (spicy!), generous amount of lime zest grated on top. Three perfectly shaped raviolis. Great contrasts in the way the flavors and textures played together: sweet corn puree with salty sausage with creamy cotija cheese with a bit of a kick from the pickled red onion. Smelled wonderful, tasted even better. Given that I probably can't get back into Ko before corn season is over, I'll be headed over to the Red Hook Ballfields this weekend for the next best thing.

As for the duck, it was cooked perfectly, fatty skin, charred Chinese long beans, crunchy mung bean sprouts, fresh water chestnuts, pickled cherries, garnished with jus. Really balanced overall, with very flavorful duck meat: meaty, tender. Overall, this dish felt traditionally Chinese. I really appreciated the crunch of the fresh water chestnuts, too. Some of the best bean sprouts and long beans I've had (crisp, flavorful, fresh). Not one component failed here. No culinary fireworks, just perfect execution.

(Given that it was a 9:20pm seating on Sunday night, the staff in the kitchen were friendly but looked a bit tired. I think Chef Serpico mentioned having been there since 8am, presumably due to lunch service. Yikes.)

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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As I've been noting on the reservations topic there are, again, lunch reservations available for this weekend -- both a Saturday two-top and a Sunday four-top -- presumably due to cancellations. And there was an interesting note on Eater, citing Kottke, about an open four-top on Friday that went unclaimed all night -- even after the lunch hour on Friday there was still a green check showing for a one-top. So I'm thinking the demand for lunch has come close to equalizing with the supply. They must be seeing empty seats at lunch seatings. I don't know how much of that the business model accommodates, but I imagine if they consistently see empty seats they'll revise the lunch strategy.

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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As I've been noting on the reservations topic there are, again, lunch reservations available for this weekend -- both a Saturday two-top and a Sunday four-top -- presumably due to cancellations. And there was an interesting note on Eater, citing Kottke, about an open four-top on Friday that went unclaimed all night -- even after the lunch hour on Friday there was still a green check showing for a one-top. So I'm thinking the demand for lunch has come close to equalizing with the supply. They must be seeing empty seats at lunch seatings. I don't know how much of that the business model accommodates, but I imagine if they consistently see empty seats they'll revise the lunch strategy.

My guess is that they exaggerated the demand for lunch at that price which doesn't involve Thomas Keller.

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