What Makes a Meal Memorable?
A tasting menu is a meal made up of several predetermined courses, for a fixed price. The portions are smaller but more dishes are included, so if you have an adventurous palate and a curiosity for what a chef can create, a tasting menu is a great way to learn more about food.
I like to draw parallels between food and music. Flavors can have high or low tones. Courses can be loud or subtle. Appetizers are like the beginning of a song, setting the tone and with a hook to grab your attention. A tasting menu needs something catchy in the middle and usually ends on a sweet note. If a tasting menu is like a collection of songs, then Momofuku delivers the ultimate “mixtape.”
With a tasting menu, careful thought and planning must go into how the meal starts, progresses and ends as well as how the flavors of one dish flow to the next. Momofuku Ko has flavor transitions and an overall progression that I enjoy, as well as a few items that I crave and remember, long after I’ve left.
Tasting Menu $195 Counter
2017 Michelin Stars **
2017 World’s 50 Best No. 58
Owner/Chef David Chang
Executive Chef Sean Gray
Tips There is a five-course menu for $75 or a six-course menu for $90, walk-in only at dinner.
Cookbooks at Momofuku Ko
This is Momofuku Ko’s take on a lobster roll. The pastry is wrapped around a metal tube then brushed with maple syrup and butter before it is baked. It’s filled with a lobster salad then topped with paloise sauce which is a béarnaise sauce that uses mint instead of tarragon.
It’s a one-bite course, which means you put the entire thing in your mouth or it will be obvious you didn’t listen to your server when they said to eat the whole thing in one bite because there will be food all over your face and all over your hand.
Chicken Oyster, White Kimchi
Sea Urchin and Chickpea
Uni can have as much variance between canned bean and ones from the garden.This dish implements a twist that slightly mutes one of the characteristics of uni that some people don’t like. The acidity of the lemon and hozon brightens the dish, elevating the uni’s “bottom of the sea tones,” allowing the texture and temperature traits to come forward. The fermented chickpea and hozon* mixture assimilates the uni’s soft, custard-like texture which works surprisingly well together. Uni is presented in this dish a more palatable way for those who might not care for it, but for those that like uni, this is a course you will remember for a very long time.
Sea Urchin, Chickpea, Hozon, Lemon, Olive Oil
Ko Egg, Caviar
This course captures Momofuko’s playful spirit while showcasing their talent. Familiar ingredients and flavors are presented in a fun and creative way by making this dish look like Pac-Man ate all the caviar “dots.” There is a simplicity about this course in that the ingredients are not highly manipulated, are easily identifiable and close to their original state: egg, onion, caviar, greens and potato chips. The Benímosu (Purple Sweet Potato Vinegar) adds a dash of acidity which heightens the flavors and all of it together makes this a dish I will never forget.
Preparing the Ko Egg, Caviar
Ko Egg, Caviar
Ko Egg, Caviar, Benímosu (Purple Sweet Potato Vinegar), Onion Soubise, Potato Chips, Greens, Caviar
Whenever I’m in a restaurant that has some type of indoor grill, I can’t help but remember when my daughter was about 5 and we were at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant. You grab a bowl, pick a protein, fill it with vegetables and sauce then they throw it on a grill while you watch it cook. When I looked at my daughter, she was staring at her bowl of chicken and had tears rolling down her cheek. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she didn’t want to eat raw chicken.
You won’t have to eat your food in raw state at Momofuku Ko either. It’s mesmerizing to watch them grill while you’re eating.
Every counter seat at Momofuku Ko grants a front row view of whatever is being made on their Japanese-style konro grill. Bintochan is white charcoal often used in the konro grill. It produces very little smoke, generates some serious heat but doesn’t leave a heavy, smoky charcoal flavor on the food. Momofuku Ko uses a combination of binchotan, American firewood and sumi charcoal to achieve their ideal grill flavors.
Konro grill at Momofuku Ko
Konro grill at Momofuku Ko
Beef, Au Poivre
Razor Clam, Pineapple, Basil
Lobster, Lobster Mushroom
Foie Gras, Lychee, Pine Nut, Riesling Jelly
Wild Rice, Kombu
Jasmine Rice, Macerated Strawberry, Sweet Pickled Pepper
Japanese Cheesecake as big as my face.