The impressive thing about Simon Kim’s Cote, a cross between a Korean barbecue spot and a New York steakhouse, is that it has kept the cost of its chief offering fairly stable since it opened in 2017. When the hotspot opened two years ago, the butcher’s feast — four cuts of beef plus banchan, hot egg souffle, two stews, and dessert — ran just $45. The price has crept up since then, but only to $54, which still isn’t bad for a full meal that commands less than a typical dry-aged steak.
Those who prefer Cote’s more luxurious service, however, will encounter a more expensive offering. The so-called steak omakase, which involves eight high-end cuts, was $125 when I rated it a BUY last June. That same menu, with some new bells and whistles, is now $165, a hefty 32 percent increase.
A longstanding (if unspoken) rule of Suttonomics is that restaurants usually will not raise their tasting menu price more than $20 at a time. At the very least, this helps avoid diner attrition from sticker shock, which is all the more true once tax and tip are factored in. The new cost of the omakase, after tax and tip, is $212 for one, or $425 for two, which means a dinner date will now cost over $100 extra. Worth noting: The omakase generally requires a minimum of two patrons, though solo diners can sometimes book before 6:00 p.m. or after 10:00 p.m.
So what did Cote do to merit the higher price? The answer is: a few things. Kim tells Eater that the earlier omakase was more of an extension of the butcher’s feat, rather than “the grand tour it was supposed to be.”
Accordingly, after the raw oyster and uni amuse, Cote now sends out a caviar-tartare course. The kitchen chops up prime tenderloin and tops it with 10 grams of golden osetra caviar per person, an ode to the famed toro tartare at Masa. That’s followed by the tony selection of beef: prime tenderloin and skirt steak, dry-aged rib-eye and cap meat, another ribeye that’s aged for 100-plus days, then American and A5 Japanese wagyu.
Marinated galbi still marks the end of the beef portion of the meal, but this is where Cote goes for another upgrade. Instead of employing the traditional short rib, Kim says the kitchen will use the top 5 percent of the wagyu chuck flap tail that they receive. “Galbi also is the only ‘steak’ that we serve at Cote that is really Korean, so we wanted to focus in elevating this popular dish and introducing this item as a luxury item,” Kim says. He calls the new preparation, lol, “Grand Cru Galbi.” The restaurant will offer that cut for $76 a la carte, versus $46 for the regular short rib.
Jan-chi soyum — angel hair pasta with hot anchovy broth — remains the last savory course in the omakase, though Kim now has the kitchen finish it off with a raw, thin slice of Japanese wagyu. The sole dessert is a tiny cup of soft serve ice cream with soy caramel.
Cocktails and wine, of course, are extra, which means that the omakase will almost certainly run a party of two over $550. Is the menu still a BUY at this lofty level? Let us know in the comments, but keep in mind that $165 is still a reasonably low price by New York tasting menu standards. Eleven Madison Park currently goes at $335 including service, Atomix commands $246 after service. For high-end sushi, $300 or more is not uncommon.