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The egg was another favorite - poached with a healthy dollop of caviar (hackleback?), sous vide onions - the dish was sensational.

 

The onion was spiked with purple potato vinegar (benimosu), one of my favorite kitchen condiments, a really great dish. And the short ribs seemed like a very successful twist on a classic French meat presentation (with carrots, mustard sauce and greens to match). And that kimchi consomme :blush:

 

Excellent food with wine pairings that worked very well (the kome kome sake with the foie in particular). Great fun too. Now they should get the reservation system to work.

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I'm getting excited.

FUCK YEAH I'm short and bald.   Working the room.   (I guess there were one or two conferences with the people who were actually cooking.)   Two glasses.   I don't get excited

It probably has been years, though.

The Greatest Night Of My Life

 

The first time I saw the Rolling Stones was in 1972. I was 16. I was an insane Rolling Stones fan. They had just released Exile on Main St.. I was virtually obsessed with that band.

 

The tour was heavily reported, not just in the rock press but in the mainstream media as well. I read everything I could. By the time the concert came around, I knew the set list by heart. I knew what the band's outfits (back then we wouldn't call them costumes) would be. I knew all the stage effects.

 

The night of the concert. I went there. It was anticlimatic: everything played out as I knew it would. I was disappointed at how much better my mental image of how the concert would be was than the concert itself. But really, nothing could have lived up to my expectations of that show.*

 

Now I'm a grown-up and have a sufficiently fully formed sense of self to cut off the hero worship. I now tend to see entertainers and chefs and the like as people I hire, not people I idolize (which obviously doesn't mean I don't respect their craft enormously when warranted). Nevertheless, Ssam Bar is the only restaurant I get truly excited about, and Ko fever threatened to get out of hand. And just as with the Stones in 1972, by the time I got to the Ko F&F last night, I had read descriptions of the menu they were serving, seen pictures of all the food, received breathless accounts over the phone -- everything short of hearing people chewing it.

 

Happily, the event didn't prove to be anticlimatic. The dinner was superb, from start to finish. But, in truth, almost nothing could have lived up the hopes (I don't want to say expectations) I had for that meal. There was one dish that was the very best thing I've eaten in a long while, and many others that were at various stages of excellence (and nothing below that). But only that one dish startled me with how good it was. Now it's not fair to expect a whole meal of dishes like this, but such was Ko fever.

 

That dish was the shaved (frozen) foie gras, a big pile grated over lychee and lychee gelee with pine nut brittle. Brilliant. Delicious. Haunting. Unique. I can see why it sent Spaetzle into such a reverie. And the kome kome sake pairing: perfect.

 

Another revelation was the smoked egg dish (smoked egg???) with that melting onion soubise (that onion being the other miracle of the night: what made it so great?).

 

Then there were things that were merely excellent, like, for instance (I'm not going to run through all of them, delicious and interesting though they all were), the deep-fried short rib. (The pickled vegetables with that were just great, too -- but we all know the Chang team can do pickled vegetables.) To me, that would be one of my favorite dishes at Ssam Bar. But wasn't Ko supposed to be something more?

 

And there's the rub. Other than the platings, how different -- and how much better -- is Ko than Ssam Bar right now? I think the answer is that it's too soon to ask that question. When they first introduced the late-night menu at Ssam Bar, I thought it didn't live up to the hype: it was just like the non-noodle dishes at Noodle Bar, I thought. But over time, the sheer breadth of the Ssam Bar kitchen's invention not just won me over, but astonished me on a regular basis.

 

Of course, I'm not going to get to experience Ko on the regular basis I experience Ssam Bar. But I've got to tell you that my F&F dinner makes me think they're at the start of another great journey. These are obviously enormously skilled cooks, putting their all into creating food that is delicious and interesting. This superb food will, in all probability, only get even better. You really ought to get there, somehow. But do remember that these are people, not demigods.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE: Everything.

 

________________________________________________

* Oddly, out of all the many times I've seen the Rolling Stones since then, the only show that actually lived up to my idea of the Stones as a great rock band was the last one, in 2005 or 2006. Maybe my expectations had slipped so low that anything would have seemed good by that point, but I think it was more than that. I truly believe they were objectively excellent then, as never before in my experience. They actually seemed to be trying to play music, rather than merely relying on their presence in the venue to impress their fans. Strange.

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The egg was another favorite - poached with a healthy dollop of caviar (hackleback?), sous vide onions - the dish was sensational.

 

The onion was spiked with purple potato vinegar (benimosu), one of my favorite kitchen condiments, a really great dish.

 

I had been wondering what was giving that faint reddish hue to the onions. Thanks Orik! Very tasty, very pretty.

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I guess the thing about Ko is that Ko is what you get if you serve only the "haute"-type dishes from Ssam Bar, and none of the rustic ones. So it sort of embodies the argument that people make that Ssam Bar can be the equivalent of a three- or four-star restaurant if you limit your ordering accordingly.

 

But -- and I realize I'm really channeling Fat Guy here -- what makes Ssam Bar so much fun is the range of different types of stuff on the menu. I don't think I'll ever find Ko as much fun as Ssam Bar, even if the food is going to be consistently better.

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Quiet.

 

How loud can 12 people be?

 

The music seemed a little bit toned-down from what Ssam Bar plays, but that could have been completely fortuitous.

 

(They played "2000 Man" from Satanic Majesties. How bizarre that that now refers to a time eight years in the past.)

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One thing I'm certainly seeing is that it helps to be a regular. Unfortunately, my interests are too scattered to ever focus so much attention on one place.

 

Meanwhile that online reservation system that Eater.com said would be live no later than Saturday, is still not live. My girlfriend pointed out that they could quickly turn into big fools if their server can't handle the load. They didn't have to build their own system. They could so easily have turned it over to opentable.com, which does this sort of thing for a living.

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They didn't have to build their own system. They could so easily have turned it over to opentable.com, which does this sort of thing for a living.

Yes, but their custom built system will assign a priority based on how hip you are.

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Quiet.

 

How loud can 12 people be?

 

The music seemed a little bit toned-down from what Ssam Bar plays, but that could have been completely fortuitous.

 

(They played "2000 Man" from Satanic Majesties. How bizarre that that now refers to a time eight years in the past.)

 

fwiw, I heard the music get turned down last night at Ssam Bar.

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The egg was another favorite - poached with a healthy dollop of caviar (hackleback?), sous vide onions - the dish was sensational.

 

The onion was spiked with purple potato vinegar (benimosu), one of my favorite kitchen condiments, a really great dish. And the short ribs seemed like a very successful twist on a classic French meat presentation (with carrots, mustard sauce and greens to match). And that kimchi consomme :blush:

 

Excellent food with wine pairings that worked very well (the kome kome sake with the foie in particular). Great fun too. Now they should get the reservation system to work.

 

Orik, were you there on Friday or on Saturday? I was there again on Friday evening.

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They didn't have to build their own system. They could so easily have turned it over to opentable.com, which does this sort of thing for a living.

Yes, but their custom built system will assign a priority based on how hip you are.

It only lets Macs into the system. PC users will always get a 404 Error. I haven't yet figured out how it could know whether the user has tattoos or whether he/she has showered in the prior month.

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