Dinner & Ko

Last Thursday night I was lucky enough to dine at chef David Chang's latest expansion of the Momofuku brand - Momofuku Ko. I say lucky enough because getting a ressie at this place is next to impossible. The only way to nab one of the 14 coveted stools (it's strictly a counter set-up) is to book a reservation online through the Ko website. A few notes on the logistics before I get into all of the yummy food stuff. The ressies open up for every morning at 10am for one evening exactly a week in advance and are typically gone within about 20 seconds. (After 2 weeks of trying I was getting a little over it all but then one day, lo and behold, there it was - the 7:15pm spot for 2!) The menu is an $85 pre-fixe 8-course meal (add another $50 if you want to do the wine/sake pairing) with no choices (you tell them any food allergies at the beginning and the rest is up to the chef).

With that said, let the journey begin . . .

The minute The Lady & I entered through the front door we knew this was going to be something special. The vibe was very mello (a HUGE difference from the chaotic atmosphere of Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar in the East Village for those familiar) and we were immediately perfectly lulled retro indie soundtrack quietly playing from above. We were show to the 2 open stools in the back corner and presented with the liquor menu (presented in a cool little moleskin journal). Since I'm not a fan of sake we decided to not go with the pairing and instead just order a bottle of wine (one of my ONLY complaints about the ENTIRE experience was that the wines are pretty pricey and mostly only come in half bottles - a fact that we didn't quite notice when browsing the list and making our selection so be forewarned!). I will say though that both the Sancerre and Pino Gris that we ordered (each 1/2 bottle $35) were both great - light and refreshing and paired well with the food.

Soon after placing our wine order the amuse bouche arrived. We were each presented with a different item (a trend that occured in 5 of the 8 courses) - a touch that we really liked since it allowed us to try even more of the chef's cuisine. The amuses consisted of 2 chicharrons (or pork rinds to the layman) and 2 baby homemade English muffins grilled in rendered pork fat and topped with scallions. BOTH were pure HEAVEN !!!!!!

This was followed up in the first course by 2 sashimi dishes - the first was fluke with poppy seeds and chives in a spicy buttermilk sauce and the other sweet Florida shrimp with avocado. Both were good, but definitely score 1 for the fluke (I LOVED it but The Lady did point out to me that the the spicy flavor was one we had tasted many times before at places like Rubuchon).

In course 2 we both were given the same dish - a Kimchi consemme with a piece of crispy pork belly and 2 raw Long Island oysters on the half shell. The pork belly was pure Chang perfection - I just wish it hadn't been served with the oysters (not that they were bad - I'm just not a fan of raw oysters).

Course 3 was one of the dishes I had been hearing a lot about - a coddled hen egg topped with caviar over onion soubise and homemade potato chips. This was fantastic, however I did think the amount of caviar was a bit overwhelming. Since The Lady has issues with raw egg, she mentioned to them in the beginning that she was "allergic" and so she had a pea soup with mushrooms and some other stuff that she enjoyed (I hate peas so basically ignored her dish and concentrated on the yolk!).

Next up were 2 separate scallop dishes. I was partial to the Lady's which was seared scallop over white asparagus with with some kind of nuts (please forgive me with the lack and precision of ingredient listing, but REALLY, who could keep track or understand what they were saying once you're in the thick of it!). My seared scallop was served with 2 manilla clams in a sauce that I can't much remember since I was hooked on The Lady's dish.

The next dish was another one of the most talked about - Riesling gelee, lychees and pinenut brittle topped with shaved foie gras. This dish was seriously OUTRAGEOUS - a sweet/savory balance with an explosion in every bite! (Again here though I have to say that there was a little too much foie gras in the dish - if that is possible).

Course 6 was the meat course - deep fried short rib with grilled scallion, pickled dicon and pickled mustard seeds. Even though I prefer my short ribs shredded, the slices melted in your mouth with a bit of crunch. VERY good. The Lady, who is more of a meat connoisseur than I, was also quite happy with this dish. I should also mention here that at this point we ran out of wine so decided to go with what was being paired with the course - a Rioja ($8/glass) that was one of the best that I have had with great body and some spice.

The final of the savory courses was miso soup with grilled rice, nori and pickled turnips and cabbage. We both also had this one and it was ok but blah blah blah . . . by that point is was all becoming a blur.

As the dinner began to wind down the pre-dessert palate cleaners arrived - mine being pineapple sorbet over dried pineapples and the Lady's being lychee sorbet over lychees. Both were extremely flavorful and got the job done. Then finally came the desserts (which we paired with an EXCELLENT version what I would call a homemade sparkling port). The Lady's dessert was a deep fried apple pie with sour ice cream. For us both, the pie was too heavy and I did NOT love the sour ice cream - eeeewww!. I can't even remember what the other dessert was - I had to ask twice and then I never actually really cared - I was over it (all I can tell you though is that it LOOKED like a stick of butter but didn't taste anywhere near as good).

Phew! Done and done.

One final note: TOTALLY worth it (both the hell of getting the reservation and the money spent) and a really special night out!


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