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10 April 2008


Yeah, Momofuku. I know what I thought it meant the first time I heard it – that impolite term rappers use to express themselves – but it seems it is actually Japanese for lucky peach.
Momofuku however, is today a small chain of the hottest New York restaurants run by David Chang, who is the hippest, hottest, most-critically acclaimed chef in the Big Apple. Chang mixes things up in a way no one else does – consommé with kimchee, anyone? – and it has made him famous, and good luck to him.
But my point about Momofuku isn't fusion cooking with lots of pork. Chang's newest Momofuku is Ko, and here's how it works: it's a counter with fourteen seats, as you can see above. You book online a week in advance, starting at 10am. The seats are, of course, sold in seconds. The menu is no-choice, and costs $85. The chefs work behind the counter and fire the food to the customers. Oyster bar meets teppan-yaki.
What Ko reminds me of is Barcelona's brilliant Cal Pep, which has about 15 seats and where me and my family managed to blag five of them last year because we were there at 1 minute past 5 when Cal Pep opened. Everyone who came at 5.02 pm simply stood behind us and waited until we were finished, sipping wine, waiting. The experience was brilliant, but then we didn't have to wait.
And Cal Pep meets Momofuku Ko is what Dublin needs: a little room with no tables, just stools and a counter, and little or no choice on the menu, just red-hot, very personal signature cooking from a team of great cooks. Someone will do it, but chances are it will happen in Galway before Dublin gets its act together. Let's see.