Super star Chef David Chang was in the house tonight. For me, this was very exciting, as he is one of America’s most famous restaurateurs, authors and television personalities.
Momofuku Nishi recently opened and is a new hot spot in Chelsea, NYC.
Like all the Momofuku restaurants it is extremely casual with minimal design, light woods, communal tables and stools. It’s clean lines and not very sophisticated looking, but the good thing is the food is.
The place was packed on a Tuesday night with lots of energy and buzz in the air. It was quite loud and boisterous and a little difficult to talk.
We tried a lot of items on the menu. There were a few notable highlights. The diver scallops in tiger’s milk with shio kombu was one of the lighter dishes and it had an interesting mix of spices and delicate flavours. The much-lauded romaine and walnut bagna cauda salad was very good. You think you are eating a caesar salad but there is no cheese on this dish. The chicken and dumpling soup with torn noodles and smoked shiitake had so many aromatic flavours, and was hearty and very satisfying.
The beef crudo was not as special for me although the presentation was beautiful, served with watermelon radish and dashi ponzu.
David Chang’s take on cacio e pepe becomes ceci e pepe – it was truly imaginative and creative. Instead of using pecorino cheese and cream he substitutes fermented chickpeas (ceci) and miso paste. The dish is dairy free except for a touch of butter. It tastes and looks creamy and nutty with the pepper giving it a bite. Another favourite at our table was the Clams Grand Lisboa, which was a type of roasted chow mien noodle in a clam broth with oregano and cabbage topped off with buttery clams. The best part were the crispy noodles mixed within. The ocean trout with shishito and bok choy is another light alternative. We also had a side dish of grilled sweet potato with anchovy, but had a mixed reaction to this dish. The Chef again used the yin and yang of sweet and salty, which brings the sweet potato to a whole new level. For dessert there are only two choices. The panna cotta is done with a plum vinegar, so the result is sweet, sour and salty. It wasn’t my cup of tea but it was certainly unique. I preferred the pistachio bundt cake served with a side of whipped ricotta.
David Chang is one of the first chefs to institute a no tipping policy at this restaurant. That was fine by me as the bill was rather hefty already.
David Chang challenges our taste buds and brings food to a new level. He takes some of my favourite dishes and makes them new and unique.
Momofuku Nishi is located at 232 8th Avenue between 21 Street and 22nd Street.