Keeping Up With the Momofukus

Photo: Patrick McMullan

This fall, David Chang shuffles his Momofuku empire like a three-card-monte dealer: Next month, Momofuku Noodle Bar moves a couple of storefronts up the block to comparatively palatial quarters. In November, the original Noodle Bar space morphs into Ko (“child” in Japanese, as in child of Momofuku). Meanwhile, year-old Momofuku Ssäm Bar—whose mysterious concept and ever-shifting hours of operation are really only understood by an elite team of MIT astrophysicists—remains essentially the same. “We’re sort of winging it,” says Chang. Confused? Consult our Chang-at-a-Glance guide, below.

Illustration by Jason Lee.

1. Ko
163 First Ave., nr. 10th St.; no phone; November.
The concept: set-menu, multicourse dining counter for fourteen lucky guests. The menu might change weekly and cover everything from fried pork chops to roasted scallops with nori purée—what Chang calls “tasty food regardless of low- or high-end cuisine—chicken potpie would be awesome.” Reservation system to be determined, but let’s just say it has the potential to be the hottest ticket in town, next to a scoop of Grom gelato.

2. (The New) Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 First Ave., nr. 11th St.; 212-475-7899; late September.
Just like the old Noodle Bar with an open kitchen (plus a closed one) but much bigger, with potential to grow menuwise. The new Noodle Bar seats 60 (30 at the counter, 30 at tables), and if the Momo budget permits, there may be a soft-serve ice-cream machine in its future. Estimated wait time: 45 minutes.

3. Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 Second Ave., at 13th St.; 212-254-3500.
It’s still Asian burritos by day, Changian flights of fancy by night, and, some claim, better than ever. Which is not to say everything won’t change by next week: Look for a raw bar soon, and try the new Tristar strawberry shortcake. Estimated wait: 30 minutes.

Keeping Up With the Momofukus