Pork Buns, Crack Pie, Fuku Fried Chicken, David Chang- have you heard of him? Well in case you’ve missed the lines that wrap around the whole city, that Lucky Peach logo, or if you eat like Gisele and Tom Brady, then there is a fair chance you haven’t. Behold Momofuku Nishi which is Chang’s newest full service restaurant in New York City and on the west side of town in Chelsea. I like that he opens without letting anyone know and then it has even more hype than humanly possible. The decor is very familiar with the clean light wooden tables and stump stools. The menu is incredibly fun, and you’ll want to eat all of it. Don’t worry, I did the hard work for you and did that already. While it’s called Italian Korean don’t be fooled thinking you are getting spaghetti and meatballs. Everything is super authentic yet familiar to the Momofuku style flavors and dining, but it’s still very different and exciting.
Fried Whole Shrimp
The menu is divided into appetizers, “pasta,” entree, sides, dessert, and after dinner. It’s rare that you can feel a salad has already made you almost lose balance in your chair or cause you to black out of the conversation because it’s so good. Somehow the Romaine & Walnut Bagna Cauda salad almost knocked me out. The large romaine leaves offer crunch, and it’s a great portion size that you could split between 3-4 people. The Fried Whole Shrimp are fun to watch your friends eat because you don’t have to peel them and then you see legs coming out of your friends mouths and you can think they are crazy but know what’s up when you try one. The Sirloin Crudo with Watermelon Radish and Black Truffle I have to admit is not a dish that jumped out at me immediately. However, it’s light, and pretty sophisticated.
Spicy Beef Sichuan
Onto the pasta section. There are two dishes here that I basically brought home with me because I couldn’t stop thinking about them. One being the Clams Grand Lisboa with chow mein, oregano, cabbage. The best part is that it’s not chow mein but it’s one of the all time best noodles fideos which are Spanish not Italian. The first time I laid eyes on fideos was in Brooklyn at La Vara and that was life changing. The second time I had fideos which was here was still life changing. These noodles are meant to be toasted and crunchy yet soft and thin all at the same time. Can someone please start a fideos revolution and invite all of us to come eat? Make sure you get some of the XO sauce at the bottom of the bowl before you dive in on top. This dish is a favorite and one you must order. The other pasta dish that you cannot pass up is the Chicken & Dumplings. You also don’t see this regularly in New York and is popular in the south. Momofuku brings this dish down to earth with a light broth, outstanding handmade, torn thick noodles that are soft and doughy, an amazing amount of chicken, greens, mushrooms. It’s shareable and truly comforting without being too heavy. If Momofuku Nish opens for lunch, this is what I will be eating every day. You get all of your food groups, love, and satisfaction in one bowl. The Spicy Beef Sichuan with flat noodles is the dish that reminded me the most of Italian, but don’t let it fool you that is not tomato sauce.
Clams Grand Lisboa
The dishes are most likely still changing and in testing mode since it’s so early. I had a great Hangar Steak with a horseradish topping that looks like it has disappeared from the menu already. Once you hit dessert, do not expect Momofuku Milk Bar cookies. Do expect an amazing Pistachio Bundt Cake with cream. It’s almost in between sweet and savory, so after you’ve kicked your stomach with all kinds of different flavors this mellows you out and is just what you need to end the night. Unless that is you go for the Frozen Amaro Affogato because, well why wouldn’t you?
Momofuku Nishi is a fantastic addition to the restaurant group. It’s fun, comforting, familiar yet intriguing, and showing new ways to make dishes create a twinkle in your eye again that doesn’t involve quinoa, grain bowls, and kale salad.
As a heads up, it looks like they are closed Sunday and Monday for now, and prices include tip.