Momofuku Nishi opens tonight. Here are some more details about the most exciting restaurant of 2016, so far.
1) It was originally going to be Fuku++, but Ko's Sean Gray convinced Chang to do something new. And about that name, Chang explains: "We called it Nishi, for West, because it was west of wherever the fuck we were."
2) This is the first full-service, original NYC Momofuku restaurant in five years.
3) Chang's vision: "Nishi is what Noodle Bar would be if I opened it up as a thirty-eight-year-old, not a twenty-six-year-old."
4) But really, the star of the show here is Josh Pinsky, who worked at Ko for six years. He's running the restaurant with chef Carey Hynes.
5) As rumored, the menu will indeed mix Italian and Korean cuisines. But Chang notes: "This restaurant is inspired by so many things. Almost all of the meats are inspired by Chinatown. Cantonese stuff, barbecue. The desserts are inspired by our moms."
6) One of the dishes is a mashup of su jae bi and malfati — essentially chicken and dumplings. Another is cacio e pepe with fermented chickpea paste instead of parmesan. And the menu will also include a sweet potato dish with sweet potato vinegar, hoisin sauce, and burned garlic.
7) There is NO TIPPING at Nishi. Chang explains: "Bottom line is we want to pay sous chefs, cooks, and dishwashers a living wage."
8) Expect prices to be a tick higher than Noodle Bar. Chang explains:
It pisses me off that Asian food has to be cheaper. Why? Not one person has given me a reason why. All the ingredients that we’re getting are top quality, and just as expensive as any other restaurant. Look at the version of cacio e pepe we’re serving here. The only expensive ingredient we’re not using is parmesan—and guess what parmesan is? MSG. We’re replacing the parmesan with our own fermented chickpea paste that took us six to nine months to make. So fuck you guys.
Stay tuned for more menu details as they become available.