Momofuku Ko, New York City

Momofuku Ko
163 1st Avenue, New York
(212) 500-0831
Google map

No photos are allow. Casual dressing is accepted. It is all about the food.

We had to look hard to find this gated and caged looking door that led us into the small dining and kitchen area. There is no big neon or bright signboard to point us to the place. We just needed to look hard.

Only 12 counter seats were available and one needs to be fast in order to snatch a seat. Only online booking is accepted and it opens at 10am every month and one can only book one week in advance. We were fortunate to nab the last 2 seats for a 10pm dinner as I only logged in at 10.07am.

Do apologise for the bad photo. We only took our little pock camera along as no photography was allowed and also I wanted to give my back a break. It was the first and only time that evening that I did not carry my DSLR and backpack along. It was rather liberating!

We were also the last to leave as we chatted to one of the chefs that served us that evening. So jealous now that Sydney is getting Momofuku outlet and not Melbourne…. #momofukurage

The legendary Momofuku Ko

The legendary Momofuku Ko

With no camera and notepad, memory was all I have to take notes. So some of the items are a little sketchy. Also to note that this was a 12 course degustation dinner at $125 per person. We did not op for the $95 matching wine.

As we entered, our coats were taken and we were ushered to our allocated precious bar stools that overlook the kitchen were the 3 chefs prep, cook and serve the food. It reminded me of Hajime. Very calm, no shouting or swearing in the kitchen. There were little talking between the three chefs. Just hand signals, nods and eye contact. Each knew exactly what is required of them. It was beautiful to watch. If I had my camera with me, I will have been distracted and missed out on some of these actions. It is about the food and the entertainment that these 3 chefs are providing.

We started with 3 amuse bouche. They were served in Chinese soup spoons. The first was sliced delicately smoked duck with a smear of black garlic puree on the base of the spoon with broccoli flower as garnish. The second was a pork Chicharon (deep fried pork rind) seasoned with tōgarashi which is like powdered chilli and salt. The third was a crispy soft shell crab on a bed of sweet and seasonal spring pea puree and topped with chopped and I think, confit scallions.

The next 2 dishes are seafood base. The first was a perfectly seared scallop on a bed of freshly julienne sweet radish, coconut and avocado puree and topped with cucumber snow. A very light and refreshing dish. The flavours were all very delicately combined together to give this dish a sweet and nutty finish. And then we were introduced a buttery pan fried sea bass with well seasoned and cooked white asparagus with a touch of grated horse radish and finely cubed grapefruit.

The next dish was a smokey lamb pieces on a bed of baby sweet brussel sprouts. A potato and radish creamy soup was poured onto the meat and topped with chargrilled artichoke that gave this dish the added depth. The soup was also seasoned with white pepper. It was then contrasted with a 65/65 soft egg that is topped with a super thin potato crisp and caviar with sprinkles of finely chopped parsley and sou vide onions. Imagine the texture of softness and then crispyness, followed with some saltiness and bursting bubbles of caviar and end with a hint of sour or tang from the onions. Very clever.

The next is one of my favourite of the night. Home made macaroni cooked with smokey chorizo and coated with onion and pea sauce. It is topped with tender and juicy chopped octopus meat and then freshened up with fresh peashoot. Another favourite is the halibut with roasted wild fiddle head. It had a side of pickled cucumber and pepper sauce and sweet onion marmalade.

Mister and I simply love this dish! Foie gras powder with a surprise of whole fresh lychee, Riesling gélee and pine nut brittle. The foie gra melt into this creamy, rich and buttery as it touches the tongue. The richness is cut by the lychee and Riesling jelly and is textured contrasted with the pine nut brittle. YUM!

The last meat dish is a super slow cooked short rib that is finished by deep frying and then cut and serve. It was served with grilled ramps and onion sauce. The meat was so tender that it just fell apart as the knife cuts through it. And apparently ramps is in season. I see it everywhere. I believe that they belong to the onion family. Initially, I thought they were spring onions until I saw the leaves above the bulbs. Another favourite dish of the night. The meal just got better and better as the night progressed. This dish is the signal of the end of savory dishes and the beginning of the sweets.

There is no cleanser dish. We went straight into dessert. The first was a very simple miso ice cream and brown butter crackle. So simple but so good. Miso in ice cream? It is sweet and salty. It just works! The last dish and dessert was a goat ice cream with a pistachio mousse and a burnt butter crumble. The desserts definitely ticked a lot of boxes. It was not too rich or sweet. There were a lot of hmmmm around the counter and also many smiles.

We also met a New York couple during dinner. The guy happen to be Australian that moved over ages ago to marry a New Yorker. He still heads back once a year and is very amazed with the food in Melbourne. He did ask if there was anywhere in Melbourne that is better than Momofuku Ko. Without hesitation, I said Yes and strongly recommended and suggested that he paid pilgrimage to Royal Mail Hotel.

There is a certain feeling of submission once you enter Ko. The bar stools aren’t exactly comfortable but the orchestrated kitchen keeps you entertained and amused. The service…what service except hanging of the coats when we got in. Each dish is served by the chef that explains what each dish is and then walks away and start prepping and cooking the next. As we were the last seating, we got a peep on what happens after service. After first dessert is served, the other 2 chefs starts to clean down and pack up. Once the last 4 patrons are done with the last dessert, the chefs were ready to have a beer in their hand and chill out. I have not seen a cleaner and more efficient kitchen ever.

The meal at Momofuku Ko is not mind blowing. Every dish is technically perfect and all very well balanced. There were some flavour combination that made me stop and think. I still love David Chang. A very smart man in many ways and not just producing good food. The way he runs his business, his brand is very intriguing. It was a great journey and insight into David Chang’s world and one that I am very privilege to be able to experience and remember for a very long time.


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