After our epic dinner at The Modern the previous night, we took it a tad slower the third morning. Coffee in bed worked just fine since lunch would need our undivided attention. Caught in crazy traffic again and during the first sight of snow for the season, we decided to exit our Uber mid-street and find Momofuku Ko on foot, silly out-of-towners. The main entrance is off a pseudo alley and not facing the street. It’s a good thing I’d seen photos online, or it would have taken us longer to find it. The minuscule name on the sign outside didn’t help either.
Knowing how limited the seating is, I made sure to reserve one of only two tables of six available, exactly a month before our trip. Otherwise, only bar seating is offered as much coveted front row seats to the magic. Still, our experience remained special; the staff made it work.
We were immediately escorted to our table, upon checking in. No dress code means you can come as you are. Graffiti on the wall, dark interiors, and hip-hop blaring contrasted nicely with the elegant food. Oh, the food. Wow. Playful, creative, refined, and mind-blowing. There wasn’t a menu to choose from, although they did gift us one before we left. Basically, we sat, ate what they surprised us with, sipped sake, and paid. Course after course arrived at a steady pace. We had one waiter for drinks and any table needs. Different chefs, however, brought the courses out to prepare tableside, present and/or serve. All with different personalities, all very nice.
Our lunch began with the Pomme Souffle & Lobster Paloise. Sadly, they disappeared in seconds. No! Wait! Bring more! Please! The Chicken Oyster followed: crazy good fried chicken served with a white kimchi dipping sauce. Again, small bites that left us wanting more. Outstanding. And another great dish. And another one. The Beef Au Poivre, draped with a green peppercorn sauce and sliced thinly, ranks as one of the favorites from the entire trip. No fancy presentation. Just beef. On a plate. Stole my heart. And then there’s the duck. After having EMP’s version a couple of nights before, I thought there would be no way this one would top it. But it did…
We left Momofuku full, with happy hearts, and even more appreciation for the culinary gifts we’d been experiencing all weekend.
How do you follow such an intense and lengthy lunch? JEAN-GEORGES. What an experience! As it turned out, I’d yet to be truly swept off my feet!
Everything about Jean-Georges is what you’d expect of a three-Michelin-starred experience. Understated elegance rules the decor with mostly muted tones; the guests and food stand out as the main attraction. It’s not a large dining room, just huge in accolades, I suppose. Diners ranged in age, but the common denominator was fashion. Everyone dressed up: men in suits and ties, women in heels and conservative dresses. Service was attentive, yet not overly personal. Not stuffy, but definitively on the more serious side. Each dish was meticulously conceived, developed, and plated. Our party mainly dined off the Late Harvest Menu and the Truffle Menu (both 7 courses plus several additions, compliments of the chef/kitchen).
I will think of this menu for the rest of my life. Surrounded by a crispy and buttery brioche that daintily broke off with each bite and accented by the sweet black truffle marmalade, this Toasted Foie Gras on Brioche delighted me to no end.
Nonstop hits arrived and dazzled as I sat there jaw-dropped: Mozzarella Ravioli and White Truffle Fondue, Truffle Crusted Wild King Salmon, Baked Maine Lobster with White Truffle Butter, and Parmesan Crusted Organic Chicken with Black Perigord Truffle. Who ends their stellar truffle menu with chicken? Jean-Georges, that’s who. Because he can.
The portions were not as small as found at other comparable restaurants. Towards the end, I actually struggled to finish my courses (not like our lunch earlier had been light). But I rallied. Just looking at these photos makes me want to hop on a plane and relive it all. I knew I had to visit Jean-Georges in my lifetime, but I didn’t realize the truffle menu experience would rise to the top as my favorite dinner of all time!