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Pete Wells Likes the New Momofuku Ko — But Not Enough to Give it Four Stars

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The Times critic finally reviews the new iteration of David Chang's fine dining restaurant.

Daniel Krieger

Today, Pete Wells files his assessment of Momofuku Ko 2.0 on Extra Place. The space is bigger than the original, the seats are way more comfortable, and the menu has new layers and surprises. He loves a lot of chef Sean Gray's dishes — especially the lobster tail with spaghetti squash, and the urchin and chickpea combo — as well as the smart wine list from Jordan Salcito. The critic also digs the fact that you can enjoy a cocktail before dinner, and barley tea after your meal. And yet....it's still not quite a four star restaurant in Wells' eyes.

The critic notes that David Chang once described tasting menus as "chefs’ novels, their big ideas." But Wells thinks that the menus at Momofuku Ko are more like "collections of short stories, not all by the same author." His conclusion:

The unifying theme of the original Ko was: "Forget your ideas of fancy dining. Here’s something new." It was built by and for young, hungry, probably insomniac rebels who chased their craziest ideas. The new Ko was built by a mature chef for customers who have grown up, and it reflects all the comforts and resources and security and extra padding we accumulate in the middle of our lives. Those things can hem us in, putting the 4 a.m. howlings of youth out of reach, or at least making them seem counterproductive. If the new Ko has a message, it is: "Yep. This is what fancy dining is like now." But those youthful howlings are still in its bones.

The restaurant retains the three-star rating that it had on First Avenue. For a few different takes on the Ko 2.0 experience, check out Ryan Sutton's four-star review from earlier this year, and Tejal Rao's assessment from this week.

Momofuku Ko

8 Extra Place, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 203-8095 Visit Website

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