Monday, August 03, 2009

Momofuku Ko: A Restaurant Review With Photos and Rhymes

Since opening well over a year ago, David Chang’s Momofuku Ko is still one of the toughest tickets in town. The computerized reservation system requires that you not only have a super-fast clicking finger, but a dedicated T1 line as well. I thought about laying fiber optic cable directly between our apartment and Ko’s server – located somewhere in central Virginia – but decided instead to use my work computer in order to snag a reservation.

You see, at precisely 10AM the reservation system opens. Reservations for the week ahead are shown, including the current day’s - but only reservations 6 days hence are likely to be available, because those are the ones that are new to the system. Anyway, I’ve been trying on and off for the last 16 months or so. It’s common knowledge that you have about 3 seconds before all the spots are gone for the new day’s rezzies.

Somehow, through deftness and agility, intelligence and charisma, strength and will and matching socks, I was able to get a reservation for two this past Sunday – at 9:50PM. But hey, it was a dream come true, even if it was a bit late for dinner. I’d read a number of reviews about how great the food is. A 10-course tasting menu featuring some of the most imaginative dishes imaginable by anyone’s imagination. Imagine that.

All in a cozy setting, in which you’re actually served by the guys making the food. Sounds pretty cool.

And the food was indeed excellent. I really liked the grilled trout. And the deep-fried short rib. And the Cold dashi broth with crawfish, sea urchin and some fresh peas and leafy greens. And who could forget the scallop sashimi, or the poached blueberries with olive oil and crème fraiche ice cream – and a schmear of pepper ganache on the side.

It was all wonderful. I only wish I had some pics to show you of all the dishes. You see, unbeknownst to me, Ko had instituted a ban on photography – over a year ago. I’m not sure how I missed that. I guess I only read the reviews written before the place was overrun by critics and bloggers, with their flashes blazin’ and their shutters clickin’.

Forbidden photo #1 - Homemade biscuit with pork rind.

Forbidden photo #2 - I think it was tomato tempura.

Sure, I could see how that could be real annoying. But I had an iPhone. A sleek, silent, unobtrusive iPhone. Like the USS Nautilus, slipping beneath the waves on its maiden voyage. Plus, I was sitting at the end of the counter right near the bathroom. I’m sure I wasn’t bothering anyone.

And when the cook first told me no photos were allowed, I really, truly thought he was joking. So I said, “Seriously?” And he said, “Yes (asshole).” The “asshole” being implied by his unflinching stare, and the switchblade he used to pick a bit of swiss chard from between his razor-sharp incisors. I wasn’t the first asshole to try to snap a photo of the amuse bouche. And I’m sure I won’t be the last.

Also, there was no switchblade. The guy actually seemed pretty nice after our little no photo encounter.

Anyway, I did get a few photos. And I have conveniently pasted them throughout this post. In addition, I will summarize my review of Ko - in rhyme - as follows:

We went to Ko on Sunday - my buddy Dan and I.
I took the F train subway. It's easier to fly.
Brooklyn to Manhattan - Jetblue doesn't fly this route.
If I were to take a taxi, "Hey cabbie!" I would shout.

I urinated once, towards the end of the dinner.
From previous expansion, my bladder's now thinner.
I gave the handle a touch, and the flush was quite sudden.
I'm glad they didn't serve a roast leg of mutton.

I wish I had pics, to remember the meal.
For 100 bucks, it's not quite a steal.
The bathroom was nice, the shots are below.
The toilet was new: a Kohler Low-Flow.

I've focused too much on the restroom at Ko.
The food is the highlight. The flavors. The show.
Please excuse my tangent, it's sophomoric at best.
I'm feeling regret bubbling up through my chest.

The food was great, I liked the grilled trout.
The staff seemed tired, like an old man with gout.
I was reprimanded once, it won't happen again.
The scale goes to eleven, but I give Ko a ten.

Aforementioned toilet with sensitive flush mechanism.

Me grinning like an idiot. "Oh boy, I'm so naughty for taking a photo in the bathroom!"

My CIA training prepared me well. This is a classic under-counter spy shot. If the counter wasn't in the way, we'd have photos of the food. But also, then the food would be on the floor.

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Jeff'y said...

Congrats on scoring an reservation. It really is an amazing meal!

The Mill said...

Yeah, it was extremely delicious. The taste doesn't really come across well in photographs anyway.

Chubby Chinese Girl said...

wow nice job on taking at least a couple shots... i wasn't able to since they were staring and my camera isn't too discrete... so instead i brought a pad and sharpie and drew it out =)

The Mill said...

Yeah, it was like CIA spy shit trying to get those photos off. I can't believe I made it out of there alive.