Monday, November 2, 2009

New York Restaurants: Momofuku-ko!!

Posted by Josh

At Momofuku-ko, photography is forbidden. There is no menu. All dishes are seasonal of the moment and at the whim of the chef. If I told you why it took me over 1 year to get a reservation at this much heralded multi-starred restaurant, I know you will laugh! Pardon me for this long winded explanation...but, it may help you get a reservation a lot faster than I did!

The only way to obtain a reservation is on line, 6 days before the date you wish a reservation. Reservations are alloted on a first come, first served basis. So, here is the drill: first, you sign on and create an account by entering your email address and then a personal security code. Then, you must enter the site at PRECISELY 10:00 am. There is a "clock" on the site indicating the exact time when you enter, but, it does not change. It only changes each time you click on the site to enter. I had to train myself to get on line at PRECISELY 10am by practicing "one one thousand, two one thousand, etc" countdowns. If I did not do this before I tried to enter the site, I would be too early and have to redo the entry and be a fraction of a second late. This error would cause me to be too late to get any of the reservations...yes, they are gone in fractions of a second!! I kept practicing till I got my hand movements with the mouse efficiently correct so I would have this procedure right. Then, I would find myself on the site and would have to click to open a number indicating how many in my party and if I even hesitated for even a fraction of a second...YES, all the reservations were GONE!!. So I practiced getting on the site, on time, and getting the number in my party in a fraction of a second....BUT, if I even hesitated in thinking about what time I wanted my reservation (they are in 2o minute intervals)...I would lose I had to nail down in my head exactly the time I would prefer and not hesitate. So, now, for the next time I tried, I had the routine down pat but I had to practice all of the hand movements with the mouse and KNOW exactly where my cursor had to move to in order to make sure I moved the cursor efficiently to the spot required with no hesitation. I guess it must be my age, as it took me over a year of trying, when I was planning to travel to New York, to get this whole orchestration right so I could grab a reservation!

But, it was worth it.

The first dish was fresh tofu with sesame seeds, bonito and miso pickled carrots. A black pepper biscuit with mirin glaze followed and then a small serving of deep fried pork skin. The next dish was a mildly spicey leek and potato soup with chopped braised carrot. Our following course was a favourite, Spanish mackerel tataki. the very thin outside skin charred, but the fish was raw. It was served with yuzu, mustard oil, mustard greens, puffed rice and ginger pickled shallots. Oxtail broth followed, with small daikon tortellini, 2 of caramelized onions and 2 of peppery oxtail, all topped with mung bean sprouts and Thai basil. This dish had very clean flavours. Our next course, a signature dish, was caviar with whole but opened smoked soft eggs, with onion soubise, fingerling potato chips and sweet potato vinegar. Then, matsutaki mushroom ravioli with sliced raw matsutaki mushrooms, kashi, coriander, white pepper and chives. Next, we had a very lovely palate cleanser of matsutaki tea with pine needle oil and a small piece of french toast on the side. This was "Algonquin Park in a cup"! A piece of roasted monkfish followed, served with Santa Barbara sea urchin. Next, a lovely shellfish broth with daikon, cubanelle pepper, kholrabi, fennel and fennel fronds and a small amount of fresh orange. Then, a remarkable dish consisting of shaved torchon of cured and frozen fois gras with lychees, pine nut brittle and pine nut jelly (this was another favourite!!). Finally, slow roasted rare venison with shaved brussel sprouts, celery root puree, chestnut chips, fresh huckleberries and a small dab of espresso sauce. Now, for desserts: spiced white wine sorbet, coriander, cardomom, white pepper, ascar pear and elder flower syrup, then some wonderful "cheesecake" of goat cheese curds, philly cream cheese curds, cottage cheese curds and ricotta cheese curds with butternut squash ice cream, pumkin seed brittle and pumkin seed oil - a fabulous, intensley flavoured finale and another favouite!

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Momofuko cookbook is now available for sale at the store!

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