When David Chang packed up Momofuku Ko and moved his tasting menu restaurant to a much bigger space on Extra Place, he didn't give up the original narrow dining room at 163 First Avenue. Representatives have confirmed that Momo still holds the lease on the space, but won't say what, if anything, Chang has planned for it. A sign on the door currently says only that the restaurant is "closed for renovations," which seems like an odd thing to say about a place that moved months ago, and an Eater spy reports recently seeing people hanging around in the space. All of which leads Eater to wonder: What is going on here?
After much speculation, here are our 10 best wild and mostly unfounded theories (hopes, dreams) about what the old Ko space could become:
KFChang's: The David Chang version of KFC, because we all know the man loves fried chicken. It would come in buckets or in buns, with the option of a caviar supplement. This could be Chang's Shake Shack.
Dashi: Capitalizing on the bone broth trend, a counter selling paper cups of dashi, the traditional kelp and dried fish-based stock. There would be add-ins of course, ranging from dollops of hozon to packets of instant ramen seasoning.
Bun Bar: A bao-focused fast casual spot. Chang is, of course, famous for his pork bun, but his repertoire goes well beyond that. Noodle Bar currently serves buns ranging from shrimp to al pastor, and Ma Peche even has a breakfast sandwich bun. Plus, Chang has been spending an awful lot of time lately experimenting with spicy chicken and juicy Lucy buns (see below). This would be great news for everyone except Eddie Huang.
Juicy Rucy tasting: cheesy molten center made better with ssäm sauce pic.twitter.com/hp4FNdb5Kj— Dave Chang (@davidchang) February 12, 2015
Momofuku Provisions: A small retail store selling Momofuku-branded goods. This would be the place to buy culinary lab creations like hozon and bonji, plus condiments like the soon-to-launch Ssam sauce. And of course, this is also where you would get your Momofuku hats, t-shirts, Searzalls, and issues of Lucky Peach.
Milkberry: Like a Pinkberry, only with Milk Bar soft serve. It would have all the soft serve flavors, sold by the ounce from self-serve machines, plus crazy toppings – cake truffles, chunks of crack pie, crushed up instant ramen noodles, frozen foie gras shavings, you name it.
Ssam Bar To-Go: A ssam-centric takeout restaurant. The ssams would be along the same lines as the one currently offered at lunch at Ssam Bar, but here you pick your filling combo and the ssam or rice bowl gets made at the counter in a Chipotle-style assembly line.
D & D's Pizza: Back when Danny Bowien was working on the menu for Mission Chinese Food, David Chang helped him come up with a mapo tofu pizza. Bowien even dubbed it "The Chang." Alas, only plain cheese and pepperoni made it onto the Mission Chinese menu, but it only stands to reason that the duo should collaborate on a wacky slice joint. Between the two of them, the possibilities are endless. Think ramen pizza, pork belly pizza, kung pao pastrami pizza, peking duck pizza, and oh so much more.
You get the idea:
Dave's Dive: A dive bar. No $14 cocktails, no fancy beers, just the cheap stuff. The menu would consist of cans of Tecate, buckets of Miller High Life, and Chang's favorite, Bud Light, in bottles and on tap. Bar food could include the aforementioned juicy Lucy buns, fried chicken, and other junky snacks.
Chang's Pickle Palace: An emporium of kimchis and all other things pickled and fermented. Ideally the space would be lined with big barrels of that funky cabbage and other varieties of vegetable, just like the Pickle Guys do it.
Momofuku Meat & Three: Chang has gone on the record saying that it's his dream to open a cafeteria-style restaurant inspired by the soul food buffets of the South, which traditionally serve meals consisting of a meat and three sides. Admittedly, the old Ko space is way too small to function as an actual cafeteria, but this is David Chang, he can do whatever he wants. Maybe he'll sell tickets. Maybe he'll just make people line up outside.
For now, this is all just fantasy, but anything can happen. Chang can't hold onto an unused space forever. So if you see or hear anything, anything at all going on at 163 1st Avenue, please do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just let us know what you'd like to see in the old Ko space in the comments below.
Update: Here is David Chang's very real response:
.@EaterWire I'm really impressed with your reporting. No joke we are working on 7 of 10 of these ideas right now. Some may happen or not— Dave Chang (@davidchang) February 13, 2015