After 15 years in operation, the two-Michelin starred restaurant Momofuku Ko is closing on November 4, a spokesperson confirms, on the heels of Momofuku Ssäm Bar shuttering last month.
The closure is part of Momofuku’s restructuring since Marguerite Zabar Mariscal became CEO of the company in 2019; it includes shifts in its restaurant concepts and upcoming locations, along with an expansion of its pantry products in stores like Whole Foods and Target.
A spokesperson confirms the company will be holding onto the restaurant space. “We are pausing Ko as it currently operates and we hope to have something in the new year in this space.”
“The culinary world is much different than it was 20 years ago [when Momofuku began],” the restaurant says in a statement that continues by addressing how the company’s values and how it is changing, including the growth of pantry products from Momofuku Goods.
The statement continues with a reference to future restaurants. “We can’t wait to show you the places we have in development. In many ways, we’re heading back to where it all began with Noodle Bar, doubling down on heart and energy and eye-opening flavors.”
The original Ko opened on First Avenue in 2008 with an $85 menu. The restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars, which it has held since 2009. The Michelin Guide describes the restaurant as “still upbeat and iconoclastic,” serving “daring dishes.”
The restaurant serves a tasting menu in the dining room and a choice of a tasting or a la carte dining at the bar. Eater critic Ryan Sutton emphasized how Ko helped defined fine dining for an era in his 2018 Ko review.
“The chef was already a legend for redefining ambitious American cuisine as affordable, Asian-accented small plates at his nearby Ssäm Bar,” Sutton wrote. “Everything about the place was (classically) wrong: the cramped counter seating, the expletive-spewing chefs, the alt-rock soundtrack, the fried McDonald’s-style apple pies, the online-only reservations. It felt as if the Ko revolution would democratize fine dining forever.”
While Ko may be closing, Momofuku the brand, is a behemoth, with over 400 employees working in restaurants and other divisions, including Momofuku Goods, which includes noodles, chili crunch, sauces, and chocolates sold in over 3000 stores, including Whole Foods and Target.
Once Ko closes, Momofuku’s standalone restaurants include Noodle Bar and the fast-casual Bāng Bar, which opened in Time Warner Center in 2018. There’s also a Momofuku in Las Vegas and Majordomo in Los Angeles. The company is also behind chicken chain Fuku with locations around the country.
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