David Chang's restaurant empire is growing tonight when Momofuku Nishi opens at 232 Eighth Ave. in Chelsea. Instead of launching another food trend, the plan this time around is a sit-down restaurant serving food we don't recall seeing on any other menu: Korean-Italian fusion.
Lucky Peach, Chang's in-house magazine, has all the details, but here's what you need to know.
It's a noodle bar, but not Noodle Bar
The plan with Nishi was to do something "extremely different" and get the Momofuku staff, including Chang himself, off balance. "We’re nauseous — and that’s good, because we haven’t felt like that in a long time. I’m terrified of this restaurant," he says.
The food is not quite Korean or Italian
Nishi's chef Josh Pinsky, who was at Momofuku Ko for six years, tells Lucky peach, "We’re looking at what Italy has done and walking away from it at the same time." That means a cacio e pepe topped with fermented chickpea paste instead of Parmesan cheese, Cantonese-inspired barbecue, and a sweet potato dish that Chang says caused him to have "a 'Ratatouille' moment."
Don't expect cheap and cheerful
While Danny Bowien just cut some expensive items and added new ones at Mission Cantina to keep his menu under $17, Chang is going to "charge like Italian food" to use the ingredients he believes in and making things like chicken broth and noodles in-house.
No tipping, thanks
The back-of-house staff at Nishi will be paid a living wage, and that means thinking beyond tipping: "The real cost of selling food is not accurately reflecting the labor that's going into it."
Momofuku Nishi opens for dinner tonight. It'll be open Tuesday through Saturday, 6-11 p.m.