I can add no words to about the Momofuku Ko experience that would really add any value to what is already on the web. You can read about Frank Bruni's experience or Adam Platt's take on it. And if you prefer your reviews with glorious pictures, check out The Wandering Eater. I am just going to write a little bit about the experience of dining there, but not the food experience. Oh and I will show you a gabillion pictures.
When my former roommate scored a reservation at Momofuku Ko and said I could tag along, it was like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was excited to dine at a place that only a select few have tried thus far. In fairness, this makes me kind of sad. Oh noes!
We sat at the far end of the restaurant, the two seats closest to the bathroom? I only mention this because it is also right next to the little room where they have the dishwasher and espresso machine; it is also the room where the maestro hides most of the time. David Chang was in the house on this night. There were three dudes behind the counter cooking, a tall white dude on the other end of the counter, an Asian dude in the middle, and a youngin' right in front of me. The youngin', and let us call him 'J', was clearly the youngest one there, and perhaps very green.
One of the first things that I do when taking pictures is figure out the white balance. And yea, I mess up probably 80% of the time still. But David Chang saw me fiddle with my dslr. At the time he was standing in the doorway to the side room, and right when he saw it, he backed into the room to make sure I did not take his picture.
At some point early in my meal, the cook in front of me, J, screwed up a little or went too slowly and David stepped in to help him out. I like action shots of people doing stuff. DC took exception and asked, "Please, no pictures of me or of the guys." I told him that it was only of the things they were doing, and none of their faces would be in the shot (as you can see above, it was only forearms). He then told me it did not matter since the guys did not like it and it was tough enough as it is to be working, but to also have someone photograph you was too much. He nodded towards J and said, "He is nervous enough as it is, he does not need it."
Fair enough, I stopped taking action shots of them working. One thing that was apparent was that DC was visibly agitated. I used my super power of mind reading to determine what he was thinking at the time. And here at food in mouth, I like to share, so below you have the thoughts of David Chang:
You little punk @$$ prick, WTF are you doing taking pictures in my restaurant? You are making this dude fcuk up and WTF are you doing talking back to me? Effing bloggers, trying to make my life more miserable. !@#$
But actually he was very polite about it even though he probably wanted to just tell me to STFU and eat. I can appreciate that. As a coder, the last thing I ever want is someone looking over my shoulder to look at the code.
Later on J also messed up some more doing something else and DC was right on top of him with stern instructions. It was one of those situations where J would just take the instructions and just shut up and do it right. Obviously, no back talk in a kitchen like that. But throughout the night, Chang never had to talk to the other guys. It could not have been easy to be J last night.
Towards the end of dinner Martha Stewart walked into the restaurant. David Chang went over to greet her, but she did not stay for a very long time. She was not there to eat, but perhaps just to say hello? Also towards the end of dinner, the diner to my right asked the guys behind the counter about why certain diners get some dish and do not get others. Chang told him that it was based upon availability and also if it was a repeat customer, they tried to switch it up.
Perplexed by how anyone could go there multiple times, DC told us some guy has been there FIVE times, a real friendly dude that brought a new lady friend each time. I think they know that is really effing suspicious, and I think someone out there has a bot. The mad rush to get a ressy at 10am provides the same odds for everyone out there. But if you have a registered account, a bot that can read the colors on the screen (and I do believe that is possible because someone told me about poker bots that can read screen caps), then when it is green perhaps fire an email to an acct that goes to a Blackberry. So if I were them, I would check to see if multi-ressy people always get cancellation ressys or get them in the morning. Just a thought, I could be wrong though.
And one last note about taking pictures in a restaurant. I know there are detractors out there, and people who hate on the fact that I cannot just sit there and eat my food. Actually I do not take photographs of every meal. Chefs have this idea that 'bloggers' are these hanger-ons trying to get famous via blogging by writing about something they are creating. Since many cooks and chefs are humble and hardworking, I can respect that.
The thing is, as a blogger, I do not take myself very seriously. Come on, half of my links are to youtube. However, I am serious about the process of getting better. Whether this means taking better pictures or making less grammatical errors (of which there are many!) And the vibe I got from David Chang was more like, "Yo why you gotta come in here and take a million pictures? Can you just enjoy the food?" I see where he is coming from but it seems that it is impossible to convince just one respectable chef that not all bloggers are equal, and most of us are nice people too. I am not trying to make food look bad and if you scroll through flickr, you can see that too. In the grand scheme of things, food blogging is still just BS really, it is just shooting the $hits as they say, having fun. Me thinks many chefs think bloggers are disrespectful and tactless, but in the process of asking me to recognize their humanity and hard work, they fail to see that I am also trying my best to better my product. For that, I am sad.
Oh, and it was a FANTABULOUS meal. Go try and get a reservation. Good luck.
163 First Ave.
New York, NY 10003
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