Tastes: David Chang’s new restaurant Momofuku Nishi is exactly what you want it to be – sleek, delicious, and on trend, with enough food fun to feel fresh, but tastes that are still comforting and familiar. Nowadays, most foodies hear the word fusion and run in the other direction. In Chang’s case, a mash up of amazing Asian flavors – including Korean and Japanese – meet Italian. A curious mix to be sure, until you shove a forkful of caci e pepe into your face and realize that you’re actually nuts about fermented chickpea paste. (WHAT?!?) Oh yeah, it tastes weirdly like how a saucy, cheesy pasta should taste – vegans take note! The grilled “caesar” was also a winner.
Vibe: Momofuku Nishi is cool and sleek. If I have one complaint, it’s that every single chair in the joint is backless, making it hard to settle in for a real comfy evening. That said, I’m sure the goal is to get you in, fed delicious things, and off to your 11 pm resie at the next Chelsea hotspot. Service was reasonably attentive, though, as with most new restaurants, we were gently nudged out of our seats at about 90 minutes for the next party behind us. Waiting is a little tricky, as there’s no real bar area, and in the winter, everyone seems intent on shoving in to the front door area, crowding out that front table. Luckily, me and my party were seated in the back, but you might also want to request a table a little further back to facilitate a more comfortable evening.
Overall: Nishi manages to be yet another fantastic addition to the Chang family. The vibe while cool and wonderfully modern, doesn’t create an environment that you want to linger. As such, I wouldn’t call this a destination restaurant, or one where I’d return to time and time again. Momofuku Nishi can be filed under New York restaurant greats that are worth a Friday night dinner for the fun, inventive flavors, but it probably won’t make your repeats list.
Address: 232 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
Wearing: Nishi calls for sleek and neutral add ons, with a touch of trend (check those lace up heels!) to match the mood. A little bit of an obi wrap and a tight topknot give a nod to the Asian aesthetic without being overkill.