David Chang changed the culinary scene of New York City—and America at large—with the mini empire he’s developed over the past 20 years. But his reign may slowly be coming to an end.
Momofuku Ko, the Michelin two-star restaurant that Chang opened in 2008, will close on November 4, the establishment announced on Tuesday. The news comes about a month after Momofuku shuttered its Ssäm Bar.
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“There’s nothing the restaurant has done wrong,” Chang said during a Momofuku Ko staff meeting on Tuesday, according to New York magazine’s Grub Street. “I think part of it is ending things on a high note.”
In a statement shared with Robb Report, Momofuku noted that the restaurant industry has changed immensely since the group began two decades ago. Back when Ko opened, it was Chang’s punk-rock take on fine dining, serving an $85 tasting menu and forcing diners to make reservations online, before that practice was really a thing. Early menus included items like a poached egg that seemed to exude both yolk and caviar, and McDonald’s-like fried pies from the pastry chef Christina Tosi (who’s also behind the acclaimed Milk Bar). This sentiment echoes what the duo behind Contra, who are closing their tasting menu restaurant on the Lower East Side also because they felt the dining public’s priorities had shifted.
Since Marguerite Zabar Mariscal took over as CEO of the Momofuku parent company in 2019, the brand has undergone something of a shift. A number of restaurant concepts have closed, and there’s been a big push for the Momofuku Goods line of pantry staples, which is sold in more than 3,000 stores across the country.
Although the company seems to be giving up on Momofuku Ko for now, it is holding on to the restaurant’s East Village space, and a spokesperson told Eater NY that it hopes to open a new concept there sometime next year. Plus, Momofuku seems to have even more new spots in the works.
“We can’t wait to show you the places we have in development,” the company said in its statement. “In many ways, we’re heading back to where it all began with Noodle Bar, doubling down on heart and energy and eye-opening flavors.”
The closing of Momofuku Ko, though, unequivocally deals a blow to New York’s modern fine-dining scene.
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