Total Ko

Highlights from the bar experience at Momofuku Ko

Tasting menus are expensive. I normally don’t mind dropping the cash for one that comes with acclaim, I just don’t always want to go it alone. What I’m getting at here, is it’s difficult to get friends, family, or significant others to throw down a few hundred bucks for a meal. Even though I just said I “don’t mind,” most of us have limitations when it comes to costly dinners. I know I do.

That brings me to Momofuku Ko. Ko is David Chang’s East Village, Extra Place alleyway restaurant with a much talked about tasting menu. It’s got two Michelin Stars that have been maintained since 2009 and as of 2018 it’s ranked 62nd on the World’s Best List.

It’s $255 per person, service included. If you do the beverage pairing, that’ll be an additional $195 each.

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The bar’s menu is all handwritten. It’s very Instagram worthy. Wish my penmanship was that good.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a Chang fanboy, so I would pay it. Some people I know, not so much. But that’s why I love what they’re doing on the other side of the tasting restaurant.

There’s a separate entrance for Momofuku Ko’s bar, an à la carte experience that I highly suggest, especially if you agree with my words up to this point. I checked it out in late March with a couple friends as part of a small bites/cocktail crawl weeknight adventure. In short, we really enjoyed it.

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The cocktail list reminded me of a former Chang concept…

By no means is this a full-on review, it’s more of an experience-based “what you can expect” post with some reviewy stuff tossed in.

First, the bar at Ko does not take reservations. That said, we had no issue getting in on what was an early Thursday night. For the few hours we hung out there, it never got full. I imagine it’s a little tougher on weekends.

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The sourdough crepe was an addicting sweet/salty snack that I could groove on all day long. It’s only $8. If you’re feeling bougie, get the $100 caviar add-on.
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This raw hiramasa (yellowtail) earned high marks for its balance. The pineapple and citrus nicely contrasted the chiles.

That brings me to affordability. Yeah, it’s cheaper than the $255 tasting, but it might run you around $50 depending on how hungry you are, or how much booze you’re planning on drinking. My friends and I got one cocktail each, a piece of cold fried chicken each, and we selected three other plates that we shared. It came out to around $180 split three ways. Not bad at all for a reputable spot in New York City.

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Front row seat. Not even gonna lie, my boy John and I thought she was fly.

The experience of it all was excellent. It’s something we still talk about, so I’ve been looking forward to another visit soon. Part of the reason had to do with where we sat, right at the chef’s counter/bar area. The chefs were friendly, informative, and engaging, and were great at dodging my sneaky food writerish questions. To boot, you get a front row seat to watch the cheffy magic in Ko’s tiny cooking quarters.

The menu does change frequently—we were told Ko’s bar acts as their tasting menu test kitchen—so it’s tough to tell you what to order exactly. The duck (sometimes they do pork) pie and dry-aged strip loin steak are supposedly very popular at Ko, we just wanted to try other things, plus, it gives me something to be desired. The cocktails are solid, despite the sad case of Booker + Dax déjà vu it gave me.

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Oh, hi!
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You should hope this is offered at Ko…Animal sausage–duck + pork–stuffed into a chicken’s neck with whole grain hot mustard. Shocking presentation (I thought it was cool af), mouth-watering results.

What you absolutely cannot miss, though, is the cold fried chicken. The chicken is triple battered, quadruple fried, and served…you guessed it, cold. Don’t let that deter you. If you’ve eaten cold KFC straight out of the bucket, this isn’t that. It’s otherworldly better, with a coating that cracks in your mouth like glassy caramel, and glazed with a sweet, spicy mirin-yuzu sauce.

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Before the “There’s a lot to like…” part, here’s something that didn’t work for us. Sweet potato pie ice cream tasted un-dessert-like, almost medicinal. So badly wanted this to be good.

There’s a lot to like about the bar portion of Ko, especially the feelings of exclusivity without the pretense, and deliciously creative dishes. I promise I’ll get to the tasting, but a trip to their bar saves $200.

Momofuku Ko
8 Extra Place
New York, NY 10009
(212) 203-8095
https://ko.momofuku.com/

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