Tomorrow, Nishi will start serving things like a Dagwood sandwich, chicken katsu rice bowls, scrambled eggs with bottarga, and chilled buckwheat noodles during the early afternoon. The restaurant will also start adding a tip line to the checks.
After working with a no-tipping system for the first five months in business, David Chang has decided to switch back to the traditional model, which means that prices are lower than they were before. On the Momofuku Tumblr, the team explains:
We started this experiment to pay our cooks a wage we believe in. Cooks will maintain the same wages moving forward as they did with the no-tipping model. This is by no means the end of the no-tipping discussion at Momofuku. But at this moment, we think a tipping model will benefit our guests and staff.
Although critics — including Eater's Ryan Sutton — liked some of the dishes from Chang and chef Josh Pinksy, many of this city's professional eaters complained about the uncomfortable dining room and the high prices. On the new brunch menu, a version of the popular ceci e pepe dish is $19, compared to $24 at dinner. All but two items on the brunch menu are under $20.
Nishi is not the first restaurant to adopt a no-tipping system, and abandon it after a few months. This spring, Gabe Stulman started and stopped a gratuity-free service program at his West Village charmer Fedora, and Alphabet City hot spot Babu Ji also briefly experimented with tip-free service last year before shifting back to the old model. The seafood chain Joe's Crab Shack added and revoked a no-tipping policy at many of its restaurants across the country. Despite these high profile flip-flops, many restaurants across the city and country are still taking the plunge into the no-gratuity pool.
Here's Nishi's brunch menu:
In other Momofuku universe news, David Chang's new delivery-only restaurant Ando is now offering fried chicken buckets and egg sandwiches, but service is still limited to Midtown East: