David Chang's Momofuku Ko, once a cramped tasting table of a restaurant that won laurels for its stripped-down, affordable approach to fine dining, will move closer to the realm of New York's most expensive culinary establishments when it raises prices in the new year. Starting in January, the menu of 18 or so courses will increase by $20 to $195.
The price hike means Ko's menu will cost virtually the same as the offerings at Blanca or Atera, its two Michelin-starred peers that also serve long tasting menus around chef's counters.
Ko originally charged $85 for a shorter menu back in 2008. The price then hovered at $125 for most of its existence until it moved to a larger, comfier space just off the Bowery in 2014, where the tasting rose to $175. The longer, more luxurious menu, served in a revamped venue with light-as-air Zalto stems and bespoke graffiti, won four stars from Eater's Ryan Sutton (that's me), as well as praise from virtually every other major critic.
A spokesperson for Momofuku explains the increase: "In the past year, we have dedicated increased resources to finding and working with specialty producers and farmers who believe in quality over quantity. The result, we hope, is better-tasting, more conscionably produced ingredients, prepared for our guests. Momofuku Ko has also expanded our preparation space to include adjacent storefronts — a necessary move for our culinary team to continue to push their menu development further."
The full wine pairing is also going up by $20, to $175, so a fully loaded dinner for two, after tax and tip, will cost $954, over $100 more than what you'd currently spend. A dinner date with the shorter wine pairing, now $95 (previously $85), will cost $747. Dinner for two without wine will run $503.
Most New York restaurants will raise prices in 2016 as the state's minimum wages increase across the board. Some venues, however, are coping with the state's particularly steep increase in the tipped minimum — the lower wage that waiters make — by eliminating gratuities and raising prices even further. Venues belonging to that latter group include Atera, Eleven Madison Park, Huertas, Fedora, all of Andrew Tarlow's establishments, and all of Danny Meyer's restaurants.
Most of Ko's reservations are booked 15 days out at the chef's counter. Because Ko's table reservations are often secured 30 days in advance, the restaurant will continue to honor the $175 price in that area of the restaurant for bookings made before today.