FIRST LOOK: Momofuku Nishi

Written With @EatingNYC

THE LINE:

4:45 PM: We are the first online. Huge accomplishment. Feeling proud.

5:00PM: Watch pre-service staff meeting, cheering alongside (and taking snaps) as they amp up for the second night of service.

5:01PM: Chug water.

5:05PM: David Chang runs by and is looking stressed. He’s in the zone but still waves hello.

5:15 PM: Solid line. We discover a picture of the menu on Instagram and start planning our meal - which isn’t hard because we immediately decide we’re ordering almost the whole menu.

5:20PM: People start asking us what we’re waiting for. We’re offended that they don’t know, but proudly recite the facts of the Momofuku empire.

5:30 PM: Line is around the block, looking at 50+ people including our favorite food family @foodbabyny.

5:35 PM: Snapchat the line, great opportunity to play around with the fast forward video feature. Major key.

5:45: At this point at least 15 people have asked us what the line is for. We are officially David Chang’s publicists.

6:00 PM: Right at 6PM, the doors open and the hostess walks us inside, seating us as one of the first communal tables. #Winning

Tip: The Momofuku people are good people. Instead of making us wait in the cold, they were taking names and calling guests as tables were ready. Good move.

THE DECOR & MENU:

Think Noodle Bar and Säam in terms of decor and set up. The restaurant has two rooms: five communal tables and three high tops in the first room and two high top communal tables in the back.

Great menu set up; not too overwhelming and pretty reasonably priced considering there’s no tipping ($20-$30 entrees). It’s essentially an Italian menu with a serious Chang twist. The first section consists of “Appertivo” options such as Spanish Mackerel Tataki. The second section, Myun,was all pasta and the third course was made up of both meat and fish options. There were also a few “Contorni” to accompany the mains.

Tip: There’s a helpful numbering system on the bottom right of the menu with helpful hints about how to eat certain dishes/detailed explanations.

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THE MEAL:

Might be too soon to call it, but this could be David Chang’s most impressive restaurant to date. We hear a lot of talk about Asian Fusian, etc. etc., but have never seen classic Italian dishes executed with a spin like this.

We were also impressed with the staff training and organization. They spoke about each dish as if the restaurant was open for years. The natural flow of the coursing and the overall service was on point too - pretty hard to pull off on the second night of service.

THE FOOD:

Sirloin Crudo watermelon radish & black truffle: the beef was cut much thicker than your average carpaccio (into it) and were complimented nicely with crispy scallions and soy based sauce. Black truffle shavings didn’t hurt either.

Shaved Winter Vegetables with pickled beef broth and horseradish: Deep flavors uniquely combined with razor thin veggies.

Raw Diver Scallops with tiger’s milk and shio kombu: light and refreshing with an umami flavor from the shio kombu. Great for sharing. Order it.

Ceci e Pepe with chickpea hozon & black pepper: The most clear of the bunch, the Ceci e Pepe is Chang’s take on your classic Cacio e Pepe. Here, Chang used chickpea in lieu of cheese, creating nutty, lighter flavor. Vegans where you at?

Clams Grand Lisboa with chow mein, oregano, & cabbage: Reminiscent of Linguine Vongole, except these clams sat atop a bed of pan fried chow mein noodles.Genius.

Chicken & Dumplings broth, hand torn noodle & shiitake mushrooms: The type of stuff you wish your mom made when you had the flu. Thick, spicy broth, tender chicken and homemade dumplings.

Chili Lobster with lo mein, shellfish xo, & jalapenos: This dish reminded us of a lobster Arrabbiata.The lo mein sat in a shellfish xo sauce which was packed with spice, but the lobster was really the star here. Ultimately, we decided that the noodles did not soak up enough of the sauce, still great execution.

Spicy Beef Sichuan flat noodles, tofu, yacai: Essentially a Pappardelle Ragu with spicy beef sichuan sauce and crunchy onions. Fire.