I’ve read Momofuku Ko reservations are really tricky to get, which is why I surprised that I was able to snag a pair on my first try. To make a reservation, you need to make an account on the company website, then log in at ten AM one week before with the hopes of getting through to the actual reservations page. When I created an account last week, I didn’t expect to get a table (well, two chairs — I’ll tell you about that in just a sec) on my first try, but stranger things have happened…
So let’s say you are able to get reservations to Ko. Here’s what your night might be like, if you had been dining next to me.
First, we’d find a convenient parking spot directly in front of Momofuku Noodle Bar. Then we’d stand outside Ko, looking at the exterior — which New York Magazine describes as being “sheathed in what looks like high-tech chicken wire” — before heading inside, giving the hostess our printed-out reservation confirmation, and sitting at the twelve-seat bar. Our backless wooden barstools would be close together, but still, we’d be able to overhear the couple on my left flirting and the foursome to your right offering to buy the chefs a beer. We’d chat, clink our glasses together, and watch the three men in the kitchen work. We wouldn’t take pictures of our food (since it’s not allowed) but we’d eat. And we’d eat well.
We’d start with two flat-bottomed ceramic Chinese soup spoons, one of which would be cradling something like a creamed corn; the other would hold a bite of shrimp suspended over a thick gel that tasted like miso soup. After slurping up each of these and arguing which was our favorite — mine would be the shrimp, you’d vote for the corn — we’d have a few horseradishy greens with Spanish mackerel crudo dotted with some refreshing Meyer lemon zest. The black pepper biscuit that followed, presented to us on an angular slab of slate alongside a housemade chicharrón, would be so delicious that I would run several scenarios through my head on how I’d be able to distract you enough to steal yours. Instead, I’d tell you how envious I am of Strawberry Shortcake, and how she’s able to live in her favorite food.
“I’d move in here,” I’d say, brandishing my biscuit. “Can you imagine,” I’d ask, “walls made of this?”
My dreamy rambles, rather than distracting you, would instead befuddle me so much that I would forget in what order some of our courses arrived. At one point, a chef would place in front of us two bowls of ravioli made with a fragrant matsutake mushroom and yet another piece of slate. On it, he’d set a cup of traditional matsutake tea and a perfect little cube of French toast. We’d comment to each other about the toast’s lovely custard center, and each ravioli’s creamy interior.
It would be impossible for us to know that we’d be talking about a gently boiled egg days later. Split open, its yolk would be smothered in generous spoonfuls of caviar that spilled onto teensy little fingerling potato chips and the creamiest buttery onions. We’d scoop each black pearl up and smile at each other over our empty plates.
We’d rock in our seats to music by the Rolling Stones while spooning short-rib tortellini out of a clear oxtail consommé; we’d tap our fingers against bowls of monkfish bobbing a spicy lobster and shrimp broth to The Hold Steady; we’d ooh as the veritable cloud of grated frozen foie gras floating over a Riesling gelée and slivers of lychee melted in our mouths while Bruce Springsteen played in the background; we’d aah with Elton John over a celeriac purée sprayed out of a whipped cream canister next to venison and shaved Brussels sprouts.
Our two desserts would be cause for more debate — I’d favor the animal cracker ice cream over heirloom peaches and doused in carbonated peach juice, even though I’d confess to you that I’d never had an animal cracker before. I don’t have a frame of reference, I’d tell you, and you’d reassure me that the flavor was spot on, even if you preferred the black pepper crumble with macerated blueberries, a tangy ice cream and black pepper crème fraîche.
Before we slipped back into our coats, we would clink our glasses and finish our beers — Ommegang Hennepin for me, and Two Brothers Domaine DuPage for you. As we made our way home, we’d discuss our night, the food and, of course, the price. $125.00 is a lot for one person’s meal, we’d reason. $350.00 (two dinners, tax, tip and two beers) is even more.
“Was it worth it?” one of us would ask the other.
“Yes,” the other would say, “but I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone because of it.”
Then I’d think, driving through the East Village, I’d come back for that foie. But would you?
163 First Avenue
New York, New York 10003