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Momofuku Ko (Part 2)


Fat Guy
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:biggrin: We are going for the first time Saturday night for our first anniversary. We are wine lovers; so should we do the $50 or $85 pairing? Don't love beer!! Do you have a choice of seating? If so where do you recommend? CAN'T WAIT!! Also, any ideas of how to get a reso in El Bulli..we are 0 for 7 years of trying!! THANKS

I had the $85 pairing since the $50 pairing has beer (I don't like beer). BTW, the wine pourings are very generous. I now order a half bottle of wine/champagne instead. If you have an early reservation, you might have a bit of a choice of seating. I've never had my seat moved though in my four visits. The only seat I wouldn't want is the one closest to the restroom (but if that's all that is available, it wouldn't be a problem). I do notice that some seats are warmer than others depending upon the venting from the ovens. Do not wear anything too warm since there are no backs to the stools to hang a sweater. Enjoy and Happy Anniversary!

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MOMOMFUKU just OK---MUCH HYPE FOR NO REASON-

So we went to MOMO on Saturday night. The food was ok, but seriously folks, if you want little tidbits of food and overpriced wines, this is a place to go. Sure the foods were put together nicely. Sure the wait staff looked great. But the food was ok at best, the chefs had little or no personality, and the restaurant as a whole was a big disappointment. There was no love, there was no pride...it was just served out there to you. I love tasting menus as much as the next person and have read on this site and elsewhere about the great "value" of this menu. You've got to be kidding. If the total of ALL the ingredients used for our individual meal added up to $10.00 I'd be very surprise. Overall very disappointing and not worth the hype. Back to Babbo!!

Edited by sockster (log)
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So we went to MOMO on Saturday night.

You went to Ko, or one of the other Momofukus?

Sure the wait staff looked great.

When and where has anyone ever praised Momofuku for their attractive wait staff? In what world does that even matter?

If the total of ALL the ingredients used for our individual meal added up to $10.00 I'd be very surprise.

Prepare to be surprise. Very surprise.

Back to Babbo!!

You didn't like the food, and there's nothing wrong with that. But dismissing a restaurant after one visit as "MUCH HYPE FOR NO REASON" is not what this board is about. Go back to Babbo, sure (and give it the calculator treatment, too, while you're there). But you should probably give "MOMO"—one of them—another chance sometime.

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There's a turkey dish in the progression this week: thinly sliced turkey that has been cooked sous vide, in a consomme with a little orzo.

As best as I can recall, the current menu is:

- Amuses: pork rind, roll with mirin and black-pepper butter, "tater tot" with tomato and lobster

- Spanish mackerel, marinated and seared, with toasted buckwheat

- Turkey with orzo in consomme

- Smoked egg with American caviar and onion soubise etc.

- Hand-torn pasta with snail "sausage" (cubes of chopped escargot in a forcemeat of chicken), with crispy chicken skin

- Roasted monkfish topped with uni, in a shellfish broth

- Frozen shaved foie gras with lychees, riesling gelee and nut brittle

- Thinly sliced beef cheek with mushrooms, jalapeno puree, grilled rice and a bunch of other stuff

- Mandarin orange sorbet

- Fried cheddar cheese balls with pretzel ice cream

It's a great meal, but could be improved in places.

I think it's time to ditch the pork rind. It's not terribly flavorful and it no longer reflects the idiom of the food. At the beginning, when it seemed that Ko might be pork-centric like the other Momofukus, it sort of made sense to start with a pork rind. I mean, the meal ended with apple pie deep fried in lard. But now the porkiness is all but gone. If a person goes in there and asks for no pork there's very little they have to change about the menu (other than leaving out the pork rind).

The Spanish mackerel is very good. It is not as good as the fluke sashimi with buttermilk-poppyseed dressing it replaces. (Which in turn was, I think, not quite as good as the scallops with buttermilk that it replaced.)

The monkfish was, to my tastes, slightly overcooked tonight.

I like the beef-cheek dish but think it's something I won't miss when it's gone. I'd probably like it as a Ssam Bar dish, but it doesn't really pull its weight as the final course in a savory tasting menu. The deep-fried short rib was really definitive in that regard. I hate to keep harking back to old signatures, but they were some of the best dishes served at Ko. I understand the desire to have turnover on the menu, but those dishes are missed.

After dinner we wandered over to Milk Bar and the sweets we had at Milk Bar were more enjoyable to me than the Ko dessert.

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's a turkey dish in the progression this week: thinly sliced turkey that has been cooked sous vide, in a consomme with a little orzo.

As best as I can recall, the current menu is:

- Amuses: pork rind, roll with mirin and black-pepper butter, "tater tot" with tomato and lobster

- Spanish mackerel, marinated and seared, with toasted buckwheat

- Turkey with orzo in consomme

- Smoked egg with American caviar and onion soubise etc.

- Hand-torn pasta with snail "sausage" (cubes of chopped escargot in a forcemeat of chicken), with crispy chicken skin

- Roasted monkfish topped with uni, in a shellfish broth

- Frozen shaved foie gras with lychees, riesling gelee and nut brittle

- Thinly sliced beef cheek with mushrooms, jalapeno puree, grilled rice and a bunch of other stuff

- Mandarin orange sorbet

- Fried cheddar cheese balls with pretzel ice cream

It's a great meal, but could be improved in places.

I think it's time to ditch the pork rind. It's not terribly flavorful and it no longer reflects the idiom of the food. At the beginning, when it seemed that Ko might be pork-centric like the other Momofukus, it sort of made sense to start with a pork rind. I mean, the meal ended with apple pie deep fried in lard. But now the porkiness is all but gone. If a person goes in there and asks for no pork there's very little they have to change about the menu (other than leaving out the pork rind).

The Spanish mackerel is very good. It is not as good as the fluke sashimi with buttermilk-poppyseed dressing it replaces. (Which in turn was, I think, not quite as good as the scallops with buttermilk that it replaced.)

The monkfish was, to my tastes, slightly overcooked tonight.

I like the beef-cheek dish but think it's something I won't miss when it's gone. I'd probably like it as a Ssam Bar dish, but it doesn't really pull its weight as the final course in a savory tasting menu. The deep-fried short rib was really definitive in that regard. I hate to keep harking back to old signatures, but they were some of the best dishes served at Ko. I understand the desire to have turnover on the menu, but those dishes are missed.

After dinner we wandered over to Milk Bar and the sweets we had at Milk Bar were more enjoyable to me than the Ko dessert.

Thanks for your very detailed report. Since I'm having dinner at Ko tonight, I know what to expect. I have a funny feeling that I'll probably stay with the lunch format in the future since there are more courses and I find that the "not so great" courses get lost among the much better ones. With fewer courses, I think I'll remember the "not so great" courses.

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Sure the wait staff looked great.

When and where has anyone ever praised Momofuku for their attractive wait staff? In what world does that even matter?

908 people did vote for Kevin Pemoulie in Eater's Hottest Chef in New York Contest...

Wow, I thought that was Elvis Costello.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 1 month later...

Went to Ko for the first time last night. I wish I could post something other than a rave but I can't; the meal was brilliant and it will be one that I remember for a long time. I was primed to be disappointed by my already high expectations and yet somehow Ko managed to exceed them. The current menu is:

Amuses - pork rind, roll with mirin, a sesame cake with yogurt

Raw scallop, uni, yuzu, burnt applesauce - the uni was Yasuda good. No joke.

Braised lamb belly, daikon and potato soup (like a vichyssoise), fried brussel sprouts, lily bulb - lamb belly is the new pork belly

Onion soubise etc

Hand torn pasta, snail sausage, etc

Sea bass grilled and poached, marigold puree, artichoke stew

Shaved foie gras

Sous-vide beef cheek, jalapeño purée, grilled matsutake mushrooms, white fungus – I liked this way more than Fat Guy

Mandarin sorbet, bitter orange

Fried cheddar, pretzel ice cream

Wine pairings were really interesting – some Spanish whites, a chilled German pinot noir, a valpolicella, a white burgundy and a sherry with for dessert. As a diner, I’m glad that they’re no longer doing the rice-miso soup thing which was a great nod to the kaiseki type experience but not a particularly exciting dish. More broadly, what I loved about the meal was how effortless the combination of classical and modern cooking appeared to be at Ko. Classical touches and components like the soubise brushed against modern technique and creativity in a non-showy way. Everything was done in the service of flavour. Ingredients were of a high order and a few, like the uni and the lamb belly, were spectacular. Every dish was mindful of textural contrast and used some fairly interesting seasoning (Japanese mustard oil, for example, made an appearance in two dishes).

Also, I know this has been said a million times but it can’t be understated how much Ko disrupts the traditional fine dining model. By serving two star food in an austere environment Ko reinforces the idea of dining as theatre. And by that I don’t mean that the experience at Ko is theatrical; on the contrary, Ko is distinctly non theatrical. At most fancy restaurants as diners we play roles. We wear certain things, participate in certain rituals, and observe certain etiquette. It’s fun, but we’re following a script in order to create a fantasy reality for ourselves and everyone else in the restaurant. At Ko there’s none of that. It’s three guys cooking a hell of a meal without regard for routine or ritual. It makes that other stuff seem kind of silly. Dining at Ko is a very un-alienating and democratic way of eating serious food.

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Went to Ko for the first time last night. I wish I could post something other than a rave but I can't; the meal was brilliant and it will be one that I remember for a long time. I was primed to be disappointed by my already high expectations and yet somehow Ko managed to exceed them. The current menu is:

Amuses - pork rind, roll with mirin, a sesame cake with yogurt

Raw scallop, uni, yuzu, burnt applesauce - the uni was Yasuda good. No joke.

Braised lamb belly, daikon and potato soup (like a vichyssoise), fried brussel sprouts, lily bulb - lamb belly is the new pork belly

Onion soubise etc

Hand torn pasta, snail sausage, etc

Sea bass grilled and poached, marigold puree, artichoke stew

Shaved foie gras

Sous-vide beef cheek, jalapeño purée, grilled matsutake mushrooms, white fungus – I liked this way more than Fat Guy

Mandarin sorbet, bitter orange

Fried cheddar, pretzel ice cream

Wine pairings were really interesting – some Spanish whites, a chilled German pinot noir, a valpolicella, a white burgundy and a sherry with for dessert. As a diner, I’m glad that they’re no longer doing the rice-miso soup thing which was a great nod to the kaiseki type experience but not a particularly exciting dish. More broadly, what I loved about the meal was how effortless the combination of classical and modern cooking appeared to be at Ko. Classical touches and components like the soubise brushed against modern technique and creativity in a non-showy way. Everything was done in the service of flavour. Ingredients were of a high order and a few, like the uni and the lamb belly, were spectacular. Every dish was mindful of textural contrast and used some fairly interesting seasoning (Japanese mustard oil, for example, made an appearance in two dishes).

Also, I know this has been said a million times but it can’t be understated how much Ko disrupts the traditional fine dining model. By serving two star food in an austere environment Ko reinforces the idea of dining as theatre. And by that I don’t mean that the experience at Ko is theatrical; on the contrary, Ko is distinctly non theatrical. At most fancy restaurants as diners we play roles. We wear certain things, participate in certain rituals, and observe certain etiquette. It’s fun, but we’re following a script in order to create a fantasy reality for ourselves and everyon e else in the restaurant. At Ko there’s none of that. It’s three guys cooking a hell of a meal without regard for routine or ritual. It makes that other stuff seem kind of silly. Dining at Ko is a very un-alienating and democratic way of eating serious food.

I agree with your assessment of Ko 100%. I just had another brilliant lunch at Ko this afternoon (today it took almost 4 hours). There were so many wonderfully creative dishes that I can't remember them. Sad part was I was so full when the lamb was served, I could only pick at it, and the lamb course is one of my favorites (it's a shame that don't do "doggy bags"). The chefs were very friendly. I love the fact that one doesn't need to dress up or behave a certain way in order to have one of the most exquisite dining experiences. I love that I can watch the preparation of the courses. It's also great that Ko is expanding their wine list. Their sommelier is wonderful! I had mentioned to her in the past that I really love German Rieslings from the Mosel region, and today she had a half bottle that was perfect! I look forward to my next visit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got back from lunch there. Had a wonderful time. I overhead the chef (Serpico I believe, but not sure) talking about how they overturned the menu ("I changed everything but the foie gras") - and reading back through the last few posts here I see that few of the dishes I ate have been mentioned. So, for posterity's sake, here's what I ate today:

Two amuses: Pomme souffle cones with caviar and creme fraiche

Duck Tongue Confit glazed with a fruity sauce on a grilled rice cake

One raw oyster topped with a lot of caviar and a small section of lime

Kampachi sashimi with lemon jam and white soy sauce

Fluke sashimi with Tobanjan, ginger and pickled shallots

Bay scallops with citrus, shiso, watermelon radish and freeze-dried soy sauce

Sea urchin atop tofu skin

(All of the above were 1-2 bite mini portions, all paired with a glass of champagne)

Beef Carpaccio with Szechuan pork cream, horseradish, mizuna, rice crackers, granulated honey, etc

"Puffed Egg" (they piped some egg mixture into a poaching liquid) with dashi-bacon broth and black truffle

Cider-braised escargots with chestnut chips and dumplings, sage sour cream, brussels sprout leaves

Seared scallop with seared razor clam, preserved grapes, yuzu, and green tea broth

Miso risotto with grilled maitake mushrooms, grilled guanciale, pickled mustard seeds

Frozen shaved foie gras with lychee, riesling gelee, and pine nut brittle

Sauteed lamb sweetbreads with almond puree, a terrine of potato confit and black trumpets, and brown butter sherry vin

Sous-vided then seared lamb chop (very fatty, all the trimmings on) with sheep ricotta puree and a roast onion stuffed with braised lamb rib meat

and then to dessert:

A cheese plate with Humboldt Fog, a raw sheep's milk, pork fat brioche, smoked cantaloupe puree, and pickled red onion

Apple cider sorbet with toasted marshmallow and graham cracker ganache

Warm chocolate sponge cake with fudge sauce, peanut butter nougat, and passion fruit buttermilk sauce

----

There were only two dishes that I thought unsuccessful (2/18 is a remarkable rate in my book!) ... the fluke and the egg didn't do anything for me. I enjoyed everything else, all of which ranged on a scale between "this is tasty" and "good god this is awesome" The escargot was the biggest winner for me, a really outstanding dish that I did not expect to like. But the risotto and foie gras were right behind it. The onion that came with the lamb was out of this world.

Absolutely agree with the comments above on how revolutionary the style of this restaurant is. To be able to drop $300 on an incredible 3+ hour meal, and also watch my food being prepared, and also chat with the cooks, and also not at any moment feel uncomfortable or pretentious ... just a wonderful experience, highly recommended.

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They don't let you take leftovers to go? Why not??!

I've never been, but other restaurants have given me the following reasons for not allowing take-away:

The food suffers when not eaten right away (Frontera Grill).

They don't have take-away containers (most places in Japan).

They're worried about food safety (places in Japan during the O-157 scare, and a place in Dubai that made us sign a release before they'd let us take our food).

With Momofuku Ko, I would guess the primary reason is the first one.

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They don't let you take leftovers to go? Why not??!

I've never been, but other restaurants have given me the following reasons for not allowing take-away:

The food suffers when not eaten right away (Frontera Grill)....

With Momofuku Ko, I would guess the primary reason is the first one.

Another potential reason is that both space and staff are limited.
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Another potential reason is that both space and staff are limited.

No, that can't be a good excuse. Certainly the staff isn't limited: two hostesses and three cooks for 12 diners. The hostesses during our meal had very little to do. The cooks were working hard, of course, but none of them were ever in the weeds. Any of those 5 could have taken 30 seconds to drop a dish into a doggy bag at any point.

I couldn't imagine a restaurant that would not allow you to bag extras if you insisted ...

Ko probably doesn't suggest it because it is a silly restaurant to ask for your extras. Very few of the courses are more than 5-6 bites - what are you going to do, put a tablespoon of risotto into a small dixie cup? Once you allow a customer to do that you will have them walking out of the restaurant with 7 different absurdly tiny doggy bags. Probably half of the dishes are ones that have raw components or temperature-trickies like the frozen foie gras, ice cream which are impossible to bag, then others like risotto and sweetbreads which are as mentioned above questionable baggers for reasons of quality.

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