As my husband and I were planning our 15th anniversary dining trip, we had already booked lunch at Eleven Madison Park and dinner at Le Bernardin and The NoMad. So, we didn’t really need to go back to Momofuku Ko, but we had really enjoyed our lunch there a couple of years ago and decided we’d go if we could get a lunch reservation on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. We’re very happy that it worked out—I really recommend it if you are willing to put yourself totally in the hands of the chefs since you won’t see a menu or have any choices.
As with our last experience, we were greeted warmly by the front of house folks and settled into our seats with a wine list and asked about our choice of water. There were 4 chefs behind the counter and only one, chef de cuisine Sean Gray, was the same as when we were here two years ago. I really enjoy the ability to watch them as they go through the intricate process of prepping and cooking a 17-course meal for 12 people. We chose our own wines to go with the food and had the following during the course of our meal: NV Bisson Glera, 2005 Foureau Vouvray Demi Sec, and 2011 Domaine Renardiere Arbois Blanc.
Since we had been here before, we settled ourselves in for an enjoyable three hours and we weren’t disappointed. Here’s what we had (please note that I may not have caught all of the ingredients in each dish):
Pastries: cheese Danish and orange financier—it is brunch time technically, so it is fun to start out with pastries.
Kushi oyster with chili oil
Asparagus with miso butter
Potato puff filled with cold potato: this had a perfect amount of salt
Raw scallop with pickled tomatillo, chipotle and puffed rice: I don’t always like raw fish, but I must admit that this had nice texture and the pickled tomatillo was fantastic!
Spanish mackerel, shaved fennel, pickled watermelon, soy: I love pickled watermelon and fennel and they were a spectacular match to the richness of the mackerel.
Fluke, radish, soy, toasted fennel seed
Sea urchin, shaved apple, mustard seed, puffed rice: I don’t really like sea urchin, but I always give things a try—Ko hasn’t made me a convert, but my husband loved it and finished mine. I could tell that the apple was a nice addition to the dish.
Beef carpaccio, horseradish, pickled strawberry, feta cream: This dish was fantastic! The flavors went so well together; it was amazing. And I had mentioned at the beginning that I wasn’t a big fan of olives, so they left the black olive powder off of mine, but my husband said it added a nice hint of salt.
Grilled octopus, turnip salad, celery leaf, sweet potato vinegar: Another good combination.
Melon soup, steelhead roe, nasturtium leaf, chervil, trumpet mushroom: This was a dynamite match of sweet, salty and earthy.
Puffed egg and bacon dashi: This was a dish that we had the last time we were at Ko—seemingly simple, yet really tasty. My husband has tried to make bacon dashi and it turned out quite well, but not as good as this. He got a couple tips from the chefs, so we’ll see how it works out the next time!
Bento box: 1) grilled romaine with ranch like dressing; 2) corn and hearts of palm soup; 3) chicken finger with honey mustard; and 4) popover with cherry compote: If only tv dinners were this good! The corn and hearts of palm soup was really great.
Grilled squid, grilled rice, grilled pepper, chervil: this had a little kick and the grilled rice really made the dish.
Grilled lobster, variations on orange, lobster mushrooms, mint: We had lobster dishes at Eleven Madison Park and at Le Bernardin before we got to this one and this was definitely the best of the three. Just a lovely combination and the lobster was cooked perfectly.
Chicken paté, smoked chicken and mushroom sausage, apple butter, pickled onion
Quail/quail leg, sunchoke puree, barley mix, grape
Foie gras: the only other dish that was a repeat from the last time; one of their signature dishes.
Carrot cake, pickled carrots, rye sesame crumbs, buttermilk sorbet: the best version of carrot cake that I’ve ever had.
Donut with huckleberry jam with maple syrup ice cream and huckleberries: this was really lovely and the combination worked well.
Ice cream cone (waffle cone made with rice) with sticky rice and white miso ice cream
We got a chance to talk to the chefs throughout—you just have to know when it is appropriate to ask them a question since they are busy cooking you lunch. I’m really glad that we added this to our itinerary and I’ll definitely plan to go back on a future visit to NYC.