Monday, September 05, 2011

Momofuku Ko @ New York City, USA

The first time I dine at Momofuku Ko - Hope that I can go back there soon....

What does it mean?
“Momofuku” means Peach, and “Ko” means Son of....

So, in totality, the name is: Son Of A Peach?
LOL. How cheeky. :)

If you've never heard of it before, it is a famous 2 Michelin star restaurant started by Chef David Chang in New York, around Oct 2008. They have very commendably maintained those 2 stars for about 3 years now. It was one of my most memorable meals to date, but I don’t have much to show for it (in terms of photos) due to the restaurant’s strict “No Photos” policy.

So, (to state the obvious) this post will be kinda wordy....
(Hope you don’t mind).

Where do I start?

I guess it’s important to highlight how bloody hard it is to get a booking in Momofuku Ko.

How hard? Well:
- They only accept online bookings (you have to register on their website),
- Lunch bookings (Fri – Sun) are only available online 2 weeks in advance,
- Dinner bookings (every night) are only available 1 week in advance,
- Everyday at 10am, they open up another day for you to book (which are usually snapped up within minute. If you can’t get a spot, pray for cancellations),
- Bookings can only be made for 2, 4 or 6 people, and
- You cannot cancel within 24 hours of your booking. If you do then you will be charged USD 150 on your credit card (whether or not you actually show up at the restaurant).

I think that’s about it....
(Complicated though, right?)

With a little perseverance and good luck, I managed to secure a lunch booking for my friend and I when we were in New York**...

Part of me was really afraid. First of all, it ain’t cheap (USD 175++ per person) so, what if it turned out to be overrated and my friend gets angry with me for dragging her to such a horrid restaurant and murders me in my sleep? Still, it came so highly recommended that I figured it was worth a risk...
(** Someone cancelled their bookings in the middle of the night, and I just happened to be checking on the availability just before I went to sleep)

I bet you're wondering: Was it worth the risk and all the trouble?

My answer?: Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES.

Due to the nature of their (sort of) omakase*** concept, we were surprised with round after round of delicious, fresh fusion (French/Jap/Korean/American) courses ranging from more classic combinations (eg. Roasted chicken) to really unusual dishes (eg. Pea Ice Cream!).
(*** Omakase = (roughly) Submit to the chef, which means that the chefs will serve you what they like, although you can tell them to make adjustments due to allergies or religious reasons)

- The only photo I have (of the very low key door into Momofuku Ko):

There were roughly 14 courses****, which is a LOT for even the laziest of lazy, gluttonous, weekend lunches. To proclaim that all were spectacular would be a lie, but everything was at least good, and the dishes that were very good were just REE-DEEK-KEW-LOUS-LEE good.
(****LOL! We actually lost count!)

1) Fresh Oyster with dash of a sour & spicy sauce
2) 4 kinds of raw seafood: slices of fluke with buttermilk & poppy seeds, mackerel?, scallop? and branzino with grapefruit?,
(I actually do not usually eat raw fish... but this was just too good – the natural sweetness of the fish really came through, well complemented by the restrained use of sauces/dressings)
3) Strawberry with balsamic vinegar reduction,
(*shrug* I consider this a “filler” dish/ palate refresher)
4) Ricotta Cheese filled dumplings in a thick roasted chicken skin sauce,
(SO. GOOD. *dies*)
5) Mix of grilled and fried mushrooms with a mushroom consommé on the side,
6) 4 kinds of bites - baby asparagus kimchi, ?, ? and ?,
(Again, *shrug*)
7) Fluffy egg served in a broth,
8) Something served with grilled pork fat rice, vegetables with sesame,
(OMG. The rice looked deceptively bland but tasted awesome with its slightly sticky texture and deep pork-y flavour with a sprinkle of crunchy salt)
9) Chicken stuffed with it's own leg,
(Now I know what chicken is supposed to taste like – sweet, moist and absolutely yummy – not at all boring)
10) Pork face slice, rabbit terrine, and something else,
11) Grilled trout and asparagus,
(So simple but delicious, with the superbly fresh fish grilled to perfection – moist sweet flesh, crispy skin. Even the asparagus was SO good – moist with a bit of crunch, and a lovely smokey fragrance)
12) Foie Gras shavings, Riesling gelee, lychee, pinenut brittle and foam,
(This is their signature dish – a strange sounding but life changing-ly good combination of sweet, savoury, crunchy and moist)
13) Pea ice cream, matched with fresh peas and foam,
14) Crushed rice waffle cone with Mochi cubes and White miso ice cream,

... and somewhere in between, there was a lobster roll?

As you can tell, the dishes I can’t really remember were the ones that I found just ok. So, not everything was great… but the ones that were, well… they were the kind of *Stop. MMMMMMmmm. Omg. Pause. OMG. SO. GOOD* kinda great.

I don't know whether any of the kind, witty, TALENTED chefs there will ever come across this post... but just in case:
Thank you so much, for sharing your passion and talent. It must be such hard work to produce those delicious morsels.... but it is much appreciated. :)
(On another note: No thanks to you for lifting the bar SO very high that dining at any other restaurant in Malaysia seems so banal and pedestrian. LOL)


Hugs,
J

PS/
1) Thank you Mr Android for recommending this place to me - it's as good as you said it would be *hugs*,
2) What a nice bonus that while dining there, I met/ befriended fellow diners and foodies - Steve Moy and Anton. :) *WAVES* Thanks for being so friendly and taking us to the lovely Japanese place after. :)

DETAILS OF MOMOFUKU KO:
Where is it?
Address: 163 1st Avenue, New York

How do I contact them?
Phone number: (212) 500-0831
Website: Official Website

When are they open?:
Lunch, Friday – Sunday.
Dinner, Everyday

How much will it cost?:
Lunch tasting menu - $175++ per person (takes about 3 hours)
Dinner tasting menu - $125++ per person (takes about 2 hours)
(Note: Please put aside at least 15% for tips - it's a heart stopping amount of $$, but it's considered the norm in the US. Anyway the service is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient so you won't feel like you've been fleeced...)


OTHER REVIEWS:
- Eat-tori
- A Life Worth Eating
- Gourmet.com
- 10thirty
- Wandering Eater

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8 comments:

Paranoid Android said...

Glad you loved the place though the ambience does not justify the lovely food they serve there.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

eh lunch more expensive than dinner?

david chang is bcoming quite the star, hes opening a restaurant in sydney and obviously been doing his rounds in promoting himself in australia by appearing on a couple of eps of Masterchef.

gosh, jealous with your adventure!

Michelle Chin said...

aish. you should at least sneak a picture!!! i tend to break such rules.

i didn't get a chance to be at momofuku. i think i will save it for my next visit to ny! praying really hard that my mom wants to go to new york!

J said...

to Paranoid Android:
It's an interestingly strange pairing tho, don't u think? - gourmet yummyness in a casual environment.
(I lurved the place. Thanks again *hugs*)

to "Joe" who is constantly craving:
Lunch actually takes a longer time (3 hours vs 2 hours) and more courses. :)
(Don't be jealous - my credit card bill was a shocker)

to Michelle Chin:
Haha.. I wanted to but it was very difficult/impossible - it's a small area with about 4 chefs and 2 waiters for 12 to 16 customers.

timing said...

Yalor. Lunch more expensive than dinner and have more courses? First time hearing of it :)

BTW I agree with Michelle! Should have at least quietly and discreetly taken one shot!

J2Kfm said...

Yeah ...ahha...15% = USD30! But then again, I can understand that. This might have been one of those life-changing experiences, gastronomy-wise.

Though sucks that they don't allow any pics at all.

CUMI & CIKI said...

you didn't even sneak one photo.. Like 'HACHOOO!" excuse me, snap! hahaha

J said...

to timing:
I guess they like to do things differently there? :)
(Look at their food combinations - foie gras matched with lychee and pine nuts! :) Very different, right?)

to J2kfm:
Yar.. it's a real shame about the no photos policy. And forking over that tip almost gave me a heart attack - about 50 USD for both of us (because we ordered some drinks).
(That's almost 150 ringgit!! >_<)

to Ciki:
LOL! I was veryyyyy tempted - but the ratio of chefs to patrons is damn high so for sure I'll be caught red handed. :)
(And I was thinking : omg. It was SO hard to get this booking - I ain't doing anything to risk getting thrown out! lol)

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