KO’d

Momofuku_koThere are a bazillion reviews of Momofuku Ko out there, certainly more than there should be for a restaurant that only has 12 seats. And Robyn at The Girl Who Ate Everything had pretty much the exact same meal I had, so check out her post for a full course-by-course breakdown (with mouthwatering photos) but I thought I’d touch on my meal in bullet-point form.

  • The much-discussed online reservation system is least busy on Sundays. If you’re up at 10am, it’s not so hard. I would also imagine Memorial Day weekend will be a good time to try too.
  • I’m pretty sure I was the oldest customer in the place all night. The reservation system favors the internet-savvy.
  • $85 is a serious bargain for the sort of high-end food you get, and it is a lot of food. Too much food, I thought. By the time we got to our last savory course — the braised then deep-fried short ribs seen above — delicious, but I was already stuffed. Smaller portions would still be worth it.
  • That said, it wasn’t as awesome as I had expected, probably due to unattainable expectations. (I expect to feel the same about the new Indiana Jones movie.) I think maybe three courses were "wows." The rest were merely very, very good.
  • Momofuku Ssam Bar is better.
  • The three folks behind the stove were some of the most non-stressed chefs I’ve ever seen. Maybe prep is bitch, but during service, Ko seems like a pretty sweet gig.
  • Sour cream ice cream is amazing.
  • My friend Kelly, who went with me, and I got different dishes
    sometimes. To quote her, "Momofuku Ko is sexist. They give the girls
    fish and chicken dishes and the guys pork and beef. Ladies, dress in
    man drag if you want the good stuff." I would say some of her dishes
    were actually better than mine, but this is not the first accusation of
    this nature I’ve heard about Ko. If there are any females out there
    who’ve eaten at Ko solo, I’d love to hear what you got.
  • Kelly also got the first-ever "beer pairing" at Momofuku Ko…which included Budweiser for two of the courses. I got the regular pairing which featured wine, sake, and beer. I left the place more than tipsy.
  • The soundtrack to your meal is like what you get at the other Momofukus (if you’ve been), but slightly more restrained (ie, no AC/DC). I was gonna write down all the songs during my 2 1/2 hour meal but it became apparent there were only about 10 album on shuffle. Those included Luna‘s entire catalogue, Pavement‘s Brighten the Corners, the new Stephen Malkmus, The ClashSandanista!, Joe Strummer & the MescalerosGlobal a Go-Go, The Kinks Ultimate Collection, and Peel Slowly and See.


MP3
Luna – Friendly Advice (buy)

And I can’t not post a song from Elvis Costello‘s new album, Momofuku, even though "this album has no connection with the restaurant of the same name but E.C. has been told that their cooking is excellent." They’re not lying to you, Elvis.

MP3: Elvis Costello & the Imposters – No Hiding Place
(buy)

AdiĆ³s Matamoros

Matamoros_sopes1After 18 months of having a For Sale sign in their window, looks like Matamoros Puebla Grocery has finally given up the ghost. I headed there yesterday for some lunch and they were gutting the place. I was gutted too. They might’ve been merely renovating, I couldn’t bring myself to inquire, but I’m guessing not. The shutters were down when I walked by around 11am this morning.

Matamoros was one of the few places on Bedford that was still around from when I first moved to Williamsburg ten years ago. It was there that I first had "authentic" Mexican food and it’s cheap and delicious tacos, sopes and tortas got me through some lean years and continued to eat there probably twice a week. It was also my source for perfect avocados, crema, cotija cheese, dried chiles and bizarre tamarind candy. Mostly I will miss their amazing sopes, pictured above. I’ve had better tacos elsewhere in the city, but nobody did sopes as good as Matamoros. I am very sad.

Introducing Eat to the Beat

Despite not that many entries about it, the whole idea for this blog
was to combine my two favorite things: music and food. People often ask
me where a good place to eat before a show, so I thought I’d pass along
years of intelligence-gathering on to you, the reader.

The result is Eat to the Beat,
a NYC dining guide centered around the city’s music venues. I’d really
hoped to have the major clubs covered by CMJ week, but…. here’s the first in what will soon be many: Galapagos and the soon-to-open Music Hall of Williamsburg.

I’d also like to put out a call to any bands (or publicist types who know bands) who might like to contribute a "Rocker’s Choice" to where you like to eat before a gig. I promise I will come up with a better name than "Rocker’s Choice."

Also also: Anybody want to help me with Google Maps? I’ll buy you dinner somewhere nice.

Eat to the Beat: Galapagos / Music Hall of Williamsburg

Two of Williamsburg’s main rock venues, Galapagos and the soon-to-open Music Hall of Williamsburg (formerly NorthSix), are conveniently located right next to one another on N. 6th Street. There are loads of great chow choices for before or after the show. Note, these are not necessarily the best places in all of Williamsburg, just the best ones closest to the show.

PRE-SHOW BEST BETS

CHEAP-BUT-GREAT: In the back of Matamoros Puebla Grocery is a zero-frills taqueria offering some of the best, authentic Mexican food in the neighborhood. Skip the burritos and head straight for the tacos and the sopes (both $2 each) which you can get with a variety of fillings. The latter are thick, homemade tortillas filled with meat or vegetables, salsa, onions, crema and crumbly cotija cheese. There are non-meat options, but everything’s cooked on the same griddle…so vegans might want to head to the branch of San Loco on N. 4th.
193 Bedford (between N. 6th and N. 7th) | 10AM – 10PM (ish) daily.

EVERYONE LOVES PIZZA: Fornino opened two years ago and has been a pizza destination ever since. Using homemade moz and herbs grown in the backyard greenhouse, this is upscale pizza that will still leave you with money for beer. And the pie is pretty great, with plenty of options for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Whole pies only. For a slice, Anna Maria’s is on Bedford, just north of North 7th.
187 Bedford Ave | 718-384-6004 | Noon to 11PM daily.

THAI ONE ON: While it’s North 6h location makes it seem ideal, SEA is overrun with B&T/Sex & the City types and should be avoided at all costs on the weekends. Instead try Chai or Thai Thai. Chai scores with it’s deft mix of culinary finesse and atmosphere to match; Tai Thai is the cheapest in the area, with better than average food. It’s the only place you can find the extra-spicy Northern Thai specialty Jungle Curry in the neighborhood.
Chai: 124 N. 6th St (at Berry St) | 718-599-5889 | Noon to midnight daily
Tai Thai: 206 Bedford Ave (at N. 6th) |
718-599-5556 | Noon to 11PM daily

MORE: Sparky’s is a fast food concept with a slow food heart, using  organic and local ingredients; Miyako is the WB’s best sushi option; For a non-sushi Japanese fix in a transportive setting, Zenkichi offers luxe izakaya favorites… at a price; Oasis has your Middle Eastern options covered; Bliss is decent vegetarian; and Monkeytown is a destination in its own right.

POST-ROCK EATS

SNACK ATTACK: When your starved but want to keep the party going, few places in Williamsburg fit the bill as well as Snacky. As the name implies, it’s menu is full of little bites, drawn from Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine. But it’s Snacky’s spin on American classics that really satisfy the munchies. Hot dogs are topped with kimchee and a tangy, spicy sauce; and the Popsie Burger is their take on the slider, which is one of my favorite non-traditional burgers in the city. Kitchen stays open late…especially on weekends. There’s a nice selection of beer, sake and soju (distilled Korean rice wine that packs a vodka punch), the decor is hip and funky, and the stereo often plays mixes from yours truly.
187 Grand St (at Bedford) | 718-486-4848 | 6PM – 1AM (or later) Mon-Sat

IT’S THE BOMB: Further east on Grand St. is Bozu. Like Snacky, Bozu is essentially an izakaya joint — a place to drink with little items to nosh on while getting sloshed — but the two places have a totally different vibe. It’s very Japanese, and you feel like you’re walking into some secret den (kind of like Decibel in the East Village). There’s a full bar, but the emphasis is on beer (Hitachino on draft!), sake, and especially shochu — the Japanese equivalent of soju. The food is great. Their sushi bombs are made in muffin tins, the result are little pucks of raw fish and rice. Sushi rolls too — with many vegetarian/vegan varieties — and a nice selection of salads, cooked dishes and other little treats. The star, however, is the Pork Betty: slow-cooked pork belly, sliced thin into little medallions of fatty goodness.

296 Grand St. (btwn Havemeyer and Roebling) |
718-384-7770 | 6PM – 1AM (3AM on weekends)

BURGER ME: Open for less than a year, DuMont Burger has become one of the most popular spots on the South Bedford drag. During normal dinner hours, you have to fight for one of the 25 stools in the small place. But after 10PM, snagging a spot is pretty easy and the kitchen stays open till 2AM most nights. Their signature eight ounce burger uses top-quality, house-ground ground beef, and it’s served on a buttery brioche bun, which can be a bit much. The better option is the DuMont Mini — five ounces (still big) on a ciabatta bun. The fries and onion rings are excellent. You can also get DuMont’s famed Mac and Cheese (a portion big enough to feed four), a decent grilled chicken sandwich, and a veggie burger made with chickpeas. (It’s dry.) There are also daily specials, nice draft beer choices, plus more wines by the glass than you might expect. Still, my favorite menu item is the fish sandwich.
314 Bedford Ave (btwn S. 1st and S. 2nd) |
888-895-2668 | 11AM – 2AM

NO TIME: Despite it being open very late and located basically across the street from Galapagos and NorthSix, Anytime should be avoided at all costs. You can do much better.