Momofuku Ko was one of the hardest restaurants for me to give my KenScale score. Ever since it’s been the fine dining destination of acclaimed chef David Chang’s empire (the restaurant did close once and moved to the current Extra Place space recently), it has collected numerous accolades. For some reason, however, my palate didn’t quite match up with chef Chang’s places elsewhere, from Ssam Bar to Noodle Bar to Ma Peche (I have generally liked the various desserts at Milk Bar, however). I was hoping things would be quite different at Ko. The verdict: Yes, Ko is a legitimate fine dining destination, but it didn’t quite have the wow factor I was looking for. Some dishes were absolutely sensational; others were more or less pedestrian. Still, there is enough to like about this place that I decided to cheat and deviate from my 0.5 scale to give extra 0.25 on top of 8.5, which usually stands for very good, memorable dining experience.
The assortment of appertif looks quite interesting, but nothing particularly stood out, whether it’s the vegetable roll or the mini millefeuille that seems to have gained a lot of praise. On the other hand, I couldn’t get enough of uni and chickpea mousse. The silky smooth texture was totally worth it, and the somewhat incompatible combination of these ingredients was spot on. The mackerel sushi was a very tasty bite, and the Siberian surgeon caviar with potato was another winner.
I obviously loved the white truffle that was sprinkled across the tiny pici pasta noodle strand (who doesn’t love white truffle?), and foie gras with lychee and pine nut had some interesting mix of flavor and texture as well. Razor clam with apple and basil and sunchoke with blood orange and tarragon, on the other hand, were somewhat underwhelming, and I was very confused why the venison with kale and olive berry didn’t come as tender as I had hoped (perhaps that’s just the way venison is supposed to taste?).
The best savory dish of the night belonged to halibut that came with cauliflower and Hungarian pepper. The fish was just beautifully cooked, and I can’t stop thinking about the elegant balance of flavor of the dish. For the dessert, carrot cardamom with meringue was absolutely sensational; one of the chefs would blow torch the outer edge of meringue that would create awesome flavor and texture. Pistachio ice cream was also quite nice, not too sweet to my liking.
Getting a reservation at a Momofuku restaurant can always be a challenge. The Momofuku group has its own separate website to make reservations up to 15 days in advance. Given that there is a single counter at Ko and it’s always popular with people who are looking for expensive, special-occasion type dinners or who are otherwise in love with David Chang, my suggestion is to plan exactly 15 days in advance (starting at 10 a.m. every day). I did really liked the modern, minimalist setting of the place with a single counter where you get to see all the chefs in action. The restaurant has an extensive drink menu, and if you’re wiling to splurge, go for at least the half pairing ($85 per person, full pairing is at $155 per person), where you get to try a lot of interesting wine and other drinks like sake and beer. Yes, Momofuku Ko is a worthwhile destination to visit if you’re looking for a special dining experience. Maybe perhaps I’m getting spoiled by all the fine dining experience in NY and beyond, but it was just a tad short of magical for me.
- Creativity: 9.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 8 Extra Place, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 500-0831