What to say? Huge disappointment. I'm not easily disappointed, but this -- wow!
I've been a big fan of Momofuku and Momofuku Saam Bar, two of the early restaurants in chef David Chang's empire. My kids consider ramen at Momofuku to be the height of sophistication. I even subscribe to Lucky Peach, the oddball food magazine that gives way too much voice to the forced shenanigans of the writer Peter Meehan, nice a fella as he is. So when someone invited me to lunch in Midtown, a place I rarely eat, I suggested má pêche, the fancy corner of the Momofuku empire. The space is awkward. There's a Momofuku Milk Bar retail outlet at the entrance, featuring banged up cookies in plastic, five dollar containers of pre-sweetened cereal for making their justifiably famous "cereal milk" at home (you could also just buy a box of Captain Crunch and do it yourself.) Past that is a host station and down a long flight of scary stares is the underground restaurant. At first the high ceiling offers so much drama that you don't notice the oddly cheap looking tabletops and the anemic lighting. The menu is a snooze, pretty much. Even the vaunted Momofuku pork buns arrived looking sad, with none of the green onion panache of the downtown buns. My sea bass with bone marrow was delicious, but not warm enough to excite my mouth. One companion's squid sandwich was pretty good, but not much better than an ordinary po boy from a street cart. What happened? Has Mr. Chang abandoned this restaurant? I never expected a failure from him.