By Pete Wells
There isn’t another bar in the city like the one that opened in February as part of the redesign of David Chang’s Momofuku Ko. One thing that sets it apart is that it doesn’t have a name. Credit-card receipts call it “Momofuku Ko,” even though it operates in its own little room with its own entrance. The door, a few steps past Ko’s along the East Village alley known as Extra Place, is marked “Ko.” The menus don’t give a name at all.
They don’t look much like menus, either. They’re notebooks in which the items available, presented in a short à la carte list (in contrast to the hourslong tastings offered for $255 at Ko), are handwritten on a fresh page each day, by different employees using different pens. The date is at the top over a list of dishes that you will not find together anywhere else.
Lately there has been a lucid, refreshing plate of raw sea scallops, sliced cold and mixed with fresh green shiso and folds of pineapple, red with ground chiles. Lightly cured fillets of sardine made a thrilling appearance last month in a brick-red oil flavored with paprika, cayenne, and other components of tandoori paste. Both were solidly in the tradition of Momofuku small plates that the world has known since Mr. Chang’s Ssam Bar began remixing various Asian ideas after-hours. Both were wonderful.
The savory pie stuffed with fresh-made pork sausage patties comes from another place entirely. You could tour the city’s proudest French restaurants without coming across a more skillfully done puff pastry crust, notched like a pinwheel and baked to a deep mahogany. The pie costs $45 and typically serves two, sliced into half-moons. It is plated with a reduction sauce, as classical and French as it gets but with an insistent vein of acidity that somehow makes it modern.