Sunday, June 08, 2014

Momofuku Ko

June 8, 2014

Hey y'all,

So the rumors are true, Momofuku Ko does not permit photography, flash or otherwise. They do provide you with the menu afterwards though, which is better than nothing I suppose...


So this post is going to be slightly different as I'll be typing a lot more that I would normally to make up for the lack of pics. The set up remains the same though, w reviews/ratings of my favs at the top all the way down to the ones I like the least. As a recap, Momofuku Ko is a 2 Michelin star restaurant, and only serves a tasting menu, $125 per person for dinner or $175 per person for lunch on Fridays and weekends. Technically, we were served 11 courses + 4 amuse bouches for our dinner, but I consider it actually 15 dishes. So without further ado, here we go (LOTS to read below, hope you're ready):

Solid 2+'s

Beef Rib Cap spinalis w asparagus, tarragon
The texture of the beef was extremely tender, and though not exactly marble fat, I'd say it was marble 'gristle'. Note that there was no actual gristle, but there was a crispness to it that reminded me of that texture. As I love gristle, this worked perfectly for me. Flavor wise, the beef actually reminded me of squab and when I inquired about it to the executive chef, he advised that this was probably because the beef was aged 25 days (I believe). The asparagus was tender as expected, but didn't really add that much to the dish. BTW, we saw the executive chef constantly basting the spinalis w butter on the stove which just made my heart flutter :D

Red snapper tataki w green chili, shiso
Freshest fish tataki I have ever had! This would have totally been a 3 if there wasn't just the slightest bit of stringiness to some of the fish mini bits. Seriously, it was so so so so fresh.

Shaved frozen foie gras w pine nut brittle, lychee & riesling jelly
Lovely shavings, just like the Oakwood's foie shavings on its rabbit rillette, but the lychee and the Riesling jelly helped cut through the richness enough (though it wasn't essential, the foie was like air and was not heavy or too rich) that it gave this dish another facet. BTW, this jelly had the strongest Riesling flavor I've ever had in a wine jelly.

Chocolate cake w mint ice cream, fernet branca
Incredible execution! The 'cake' was actually a round flat disc about 1cm thick w a 5cm diameter, but the texture and flavor was most definitely of a chocolate cake, and a very good one at that. The mint ice cream was more like a gelato, so creamy and flavorful, and the chocolate crisp mini discs on top added a crisp texture that was just divine.

Coconut lime sorbet w rum meringue, banana shortbread
Another first! A creamy meringue that didn't taste like egg white! The only other meringue I've had that delivered on this 'non-egg-white-flavor' was at Central Bistro on Denman. And that was a hard meringue (pavlova). Even Hawksworth's meringue had that egg white flavor that I dislike. I didn't get the rum flavor though. Coconut flavor in the sorbet was subtle yet prominent, very well balanced. The banana shortbread was actually a little piece of banana frozen at its ripest time w cookie dough crumble.

Cured Spanish mackerel w black sesame drizzle, watermelon and a kimchi sauce
Not a tendon in this fish and not as fishy as the avg mackerel; very tasty. The accompanying watermelon though, didn't really add much to the dish and I thought it actually detracted from the fish.

Amuse bouche #1: Celery soup shot w sake whip
The whipped sake was a borderline sake whip/foam that just melded into the celery soup cleansing and refreshing the palate adequately for upcoming tasting menu.

The other dishes were all 2's but were most definitely not bad at all

Branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) w bluefoot mushrooms, daikon & shishito peppers dashi
Fish poached perfectly! Tender and not in the slightest bit fishy, actually it reminded me of the Chinese way of steaming fish, but instead of soy sauce drizzled over the steamed fish, it's fusionized @ Momofuku Ko w the mushrooms, daikon cubes and dashi. Light flavors, but the daikon flavor overpowered the fish if eaten together.

Whipped potato chowder w old bay scallops and prawns, bacon & oyster crackers
Potato 'chowder' was more of a foamy/whip texture, like the sake whip above which was lovely. The seafood in this soup though, whilst well done, I think would have glowed even brighter on their own.

Amuse #4: Smoked soft boiled egg w caviar on onion compote, chips & red Japanese vinaigrette
The egg actually did taste smoked and was very soft. The caviar was not salty at all, but didn't exactly add to the egg. Loved the little potato chips on the side.

Amuse #2a Marinated lobster
Kinda like a ceviche lobster, citrus-y yet the lobster flavor was not compromised. Good, but not spectacular. FYI, this was served at the same time as the oyster below, though the chef advised that they were not meant to be eaten together in one mouthful. ?... I was confused...

Amuse #2b Shigoku washington oyster
Not salty, very firm meaty texture.

Amuse #3 Snow pea stuffed w whipped tofu and mint
The snow pea was actually taken apart, w the peas left intact on one side of the pod wall, the whipped tofu & mint was squirted in the gaps in between, and then the other pod wall was placed back on top making a 'sandwich'. Very minty flavor w the creamy texture of the tofu unlike any other, enhancing the flavor of each component of the snow pea.

Sourdough w radish butter
Sourdough was very soft and served warm as expected. Butter was spreadable at the get go (excellent attention to detail here), but the flavor was definitely as advertised, the butter tasted like radish. FYI, this was served at the same time as the soft poached egg, maybe for us to soak up the egg with? It was slightly difficult to scoop/spoon up the egg yolk and caviar together.

House made farfalle pasta w aged cheddar and beef, brussels sprout, szechuan peppercorn
Pasta was just the tiniest bit undercooked, which was a surprise as we saw the chef pinch the pasta whilst it was boiling to test for doneness. Cheddar sauce was a tad overwhelming and so I only tasted the texture of the beef, and not the actual beef which would have been nice.

So there you have it. My review on 16 courses @ Momofuku Ko. I had 8 2+'s and 8 2's from this menu. Whilst not displeased with this meal (not in the least!), I didn't have a single 3 either, which I thought I'd have more of at a Michelin star restaurant.

In addition, getting reservations was almost painful. You have to refresh the reservation page exactly at 10am eastern time (so that's 7am Vancouver time, waaaay too early for me), and pick either the earliest time (6:20pm) or the latest time (8:50pm) to even hope to get a spot, yeah, that's how quickly these resos fill up as Momofuku Ko only has 12 seats. For more info, check out the reservations page.

There was also too much food for a 'tasting menu'. For 16 dishes, 16 bites would already be a full meal, but the portions of the actual courses sans the amuses were actual small size tapas plates you would find at a tapas bar, so imagine chowing down on 11 tapas plates + 4 bites.

Having said all that though, the timing and execution of each dish by the 3 chefs (yes! There were only 3 chefs for all 16 dishes for 12 customers who didn't all arrive at the same time!) was impeccable. I could only marvel at how they kept track of what ingredients went into each dish as each customer's tasting course progressed all at different times. The staff on hand were also very attentive and discreet, ensuring that we never used the same utensils twice and removed our finished plates sometimes without us noticing. The promised 2 hour experience ended exactly in 2 hours (unlike Eden's 4 hour 9 dishes tasting menu...), and we never felt rushed.

I would totally go back again, but only if a) someone else I like really wants to, b) reservations have already been made and c) I am available for same.

Any Q's that I haven' covered already, please comment below.

- J

Momofuku Ko on Urbanspoon

Labels: asian fusion, michelin star, new york

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