Flame-kissed prime cuts and epic flat­bread stand out on a menu that fuses old and new

Annex Post - - CONTENTS -

Joanne Kates re­views Ko­jin, the lat­est de­li­cious ad­di­tion to Mo­mo­fuku

It seems that David Chang, the mae­stro of Mo­mo­fuku, the king of noo­dles, can­not put a foot wrong. Or at least when he does — rarely — put a foot wrong, he is that rare hu­man who makes a quick turn.

The mis­cal­cu­la­tion that was Daishō and Shōtō on the third floor of his fab­u­lous noo­dle house, the er­ror that asked din­ers to sit for three hours and eat what they told us to eat, has mor­phed, joy­ously and de­li­ciously, into Kōjin, a more ca­sual min­uet on the taste buds.

The servers are uni­formly joy­ous in their ex­pli­ca­tion of the pa­rade of treats they prof­fer, just be­cause. Not one but three things un­ordered: A lit­tle ce­ramic bowl of bone broth sim­mered with Earl Grey tea. Asian pear, charred corn and green tomato lightly pick­led in white kim­chee. Two “chips” of crispy kohlrabi hold­ing suc­cu­lent slow-roasted duck with wa­ter­cress.

And their de­scrip­tions of menu items are al­most rhap­sodic, out­done only by the fab­u­lous taste of things. Pa­per-thin slices of raw fluke come dressed in pun­gent olive oil, anointed by the server — from an eye drop­per! — with Chang’s home­made rye bonji (soy sauce’s lighter more so­phis­ti­cated cousin).

Thick, moist corn flat­bread made from hominy and corn­meal, served warm, comes with lots of dif­fer­ent top­pings. Tomato with feta is a sym­phony of oil, gar­lic and deep plea­sure. This is a spoon­licker.

But then so is the Tita’s mash, so sim­ple and yet al­most erotic — pota­toes whipped smooth with a lot of old Gouda and cheese curds. This recipe comes from chef Paula Navar­rete’s Colom­bian grand­mother. From Ar­gentina we get the wood-fired grill be­hind the eat­ing counter. Here chef grills su­perb hunks of beef.

Is Kōjin a steak house? If you judge by the meat, yes. Chef ’s $78 14-ounce bone­less rib-eye (good for two peo­ple) is as juicy and savoury as it gets and plays very well with house-made steak sauce, Navarro’s an­swer to HP, and her own red chili sauce. It doesn’t hurt that this sexy hunk of meat, aged 32 days, comes topped with melt­ing mar­row but­ter and a big fat grilled green chili.

I would skip the desserts. De­spite my very fond feel­ings for dulce de leche, this ver­sion if too big for two peo­ple, and its ad­ver­tised chal­lah stuffed with dulce de leche is too much of the former and in­suf­fi­cient of the lat­ter. The scoop of house­made vanilla ice cream on the top is as creamy and rich as it gets, but small con­so­la­tion for the dry­ness un­der­neath.

The room, al­ways charm­ing, has be­come more ca­sual, and is a care­fully cu­rated com­pen­dium of small spa­ces. One feels el­e­gant here and very well taken care of.

Clockwise from left: Ko­jin’s slick in­te­rior, dry aged steak, and co­conut rice


Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cor­don Bleu de Cui­sine in Paris. She has writ­ten ar­ti­cles for nu­mer­ous publi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chate­laine.

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