NYC’s dining scene is undergoing a tremendous change. A lot of white table cloth fine dining establishments are not faring well (culminating in recent takedown of Per Se in NY Times review), while leading chefs and restaurateurs are opening casual concepts that appeal to everyone without breaking the bank, following the lead of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack that is now a public company and looking to expand its empire on a global scale. It’s not surprising, then, that David Chang’s Momofuku empire has decided to follow this path of least resistance. Momofuku already had Ssam Bar that features a lot of shareable large dishes, Noodle Bar that satisfies New Yorkers’ crave for ramen and Milk Bar that is quickly becoming a leading dessert joint in the city, but chef Chang even went further, inspired by chicken sandwich that would challenge Chick-fil-A one day. First came Fuku in East Village, where I had a sensational chicken sandwich last summer, and then Fuku+ in Midtown West’s Chambers Hotel located right above where another Momofuku restaurant Ma Peche is. I’ve been meaning to check out Fuku+ for a while since it offers more variety in terms of dishes; overall, I had some nice dishes but it was still a mixed experience, as I typically have had in other Momofuku establishments.
I’ve been struggling to understand why I have mixed experiences at David Chang’s restaurants, and Fuku+ showed me why. Yes, the initial bites of the dishes are pretty delicious but then I realize heavy flavor quickly overwhelms my palate. Smoked trout dip was quite a charm on the first dip, but it started falling off my attention. Yes, the minime spicy fried chicken sandwich, the smaller version of the original sandwich at East Village location, is still as good as ever.
I was very excited to try Mission Chinese Food Fuku Fingers, a collaboration between Momofuku and Danny Bowien’s fantastic Mission Chinese Food restaurant. The chicken, buried underneath Sichuan peppers, was quite tasty and I did enjoy the spicy kick on my first couple of bites; later on, though, the oily flavor started to numb my palate a little bit and I had to take down the last piece left at the end. The biggest disappointment came from Sichuan pork flatbread. I heard a lot of compliments about this dish, but instead of spicy sensation, all I had was too much richness (maybe adding cheese on the flatbread was an overkill?). The restaurant serves only compost cookie in the dessert section, but you’re free to grab whatever other desserts that the Milk Bar on the front of Chambers Hotel serves. I’ve always been a fan of Milk Bar’s soft serve with cornflake crunch, and opted for a cup with combination of cereal milk and crack pie flavor, which helped soothe a lot of heaviness on my palate. Milk Bar also serves cakes in the form of truffles, and I tried the birthday cake version, which was delightful on first several bites, but ended up being a little too sweet toward the end.
I don’t think the restaurant takes reservations, but the turnaround of tables is pretty quick so you won’t have to wait a ton of time before getting seated or led to one of the standing tables. The space is relatively small and full of all the young crowd in Midtown looking to get a taste of Momofuku’s latest casual joint. The drinks menu is rather concise and has some cocktail selections that sound interesting (my old fashioned, however, was overly sweet). New Yorkers can’t get enough of David Chang’s food (Momofuku recently opened Nishi in Chelsea showcasing fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine), and I like the concept of presenting the finest chicken sandwich in the city. It’s just that my palate doesn’t quite sync with the flavor that Momofuku establishments typically bring to the table; my suggestion is to go to Fuku East Village instead for getting the larger chicken sandwich (but avoid the fries there).
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 7.0/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
Address: 15 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 757-5878