David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar is a great little noodle joint that is fun to enjoy on the spur of the moment. It is certainly not a destination unto itself, but then I don’t think that it is intended to be. But Momofuku Ko, Chang’s newest restaurant, is something else entirely. Ignoring for a moment (we’ll get back to it, don’t worry) the interesting, innovative, and ultimately successful Internet-only reservations system, it is perhaps the toughest reservation in New York. Oh, maybe Babbo and a few other restaurants are in the same league, but this one is booked in 4 seconds for the entire evening (one week ahead)! And the reviewers have been almost unanimous in their praise of Ko. Gaele Greene was unimpressed, and Bruni has yet to weigh in, but most love the place. And with an $85 prix fixe you can’t really argue that it isn’t close to the top in the quality/price ratio, at least according to the critics.
But there is a pretension that irked Greene, and I had a taste of it when I made a reservation for dinner at Ko a few weeks ago. I had to cancel because, well…that’s the way stuff sometimes happens with adults. But I cancelled as soon as I knew that we would not be using our reservation for four. I would have liked to try to change it for a two-person reservation, but alas, the system is Internet only, and the website provides a telephone number at which to leave a message if you will be late. There is no mention of the possibility of change. And that is fine. It’s their system, it’s completely egalitarian, and even if it was stacked for blind, pygmy movie stars, it’s their restaurant! They can do what they like — until they e-mailed me a snotty comment that I didn’t cancel early enough. This is the hottest reservation in New York, I cancelled 1 hour before, and there was no way to modify the reservation. What would they prefer? A no-show? And I pointed all of this out to them, but in a nicer way. And they responded with more criticism. I am sure that this is a wonderful and interesting restaurant, and I look forward to eating there someday, which is why I didn’t write what I felt like saying. But I am no longer in a hurry to spend my money in a place that has such obvious contempt for its patrons.