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Momofuku Nishi

Pia Mileaf-Patel

Perhaps you can convince your parents to foot the bill on this one...

David Chang strikes again with Momofuku Nishi (but are we surprised about how great it is? No! His restaurants rock). It’s difficult to describe what the menu is like, or quite how well it works, but I’ll try. Imagine that a Korean grandmother was best friends with an Italian grandmother and their grandkids mixed up all of their recipes and opened up a hip Chelsea restaurant. And then it’s even more creative, more delicious, and more fun.

            The hype surrounding the opening of Nishi intimidated me a little bit. The block-long line would start up to an hour before opening! Then, my mom scored a 5:45 reservation—early? Yes, but seeing as they are booked until March 16th and counting, I’ll happily take it!

            The food was wonderful. It stood on the line between interesting and yummy, with one foot planted firmly on each side; it was truly both. Everything from the special appetizer of creamy amaebi (sweet shrimp) in ponzu broth with emerald green dots of basil oil to the flavorful half-sautéed escarole side dish had the perfection and excitement of David Chang’s recipes and the comforting taste of a home cooked Italian meal. It seems too good to be true, but I loved every single bite.

            We also had the homemade tofu with trout roe as an appetizer. It was both mild and salty, and was in a pretty glass bowl. Knowing me, we had two types of pasta and I’m glad. The Ceci e Pepe, a chickpea-based take on the classic cheesy cacio e pepe, was so good I kind of don’t know what to say about it. It was almost sweet, but still salty, buttery, peppery, and al dente. There was the slightest hint of lemon and something reminiscent of a slice of yellow cake, but all in harmony with the cacio e pepe integrity of the dish. The Spicy Beef Szechuan is like pappardelle with ragu, but with an entire different set of spices. In other words, it is surprising and amazing. I recommend it all.

            For dessert there is a pistachio bundt cake with whipped ricotta and a panna cotta with sharp plum vinegar and tiny, sweet drops of olive oil. We had both, obviously, and each was fantastic in its own way. The panna cotta had two very different flavors that worked together, and the pistachio cake was my favorite. It was understated yet moist like no other bundt cake and paired perfectly with a thick dollop of sophisticated cream.

            I can’t wait to go back—I just don’t know how I’ll convince myself to try anything new since I’m dying to eat everything we tried again and again!