David Chang will open his latest restaurant, Momofuku Nishi, in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood after months of speculation about the newest addition to the Momofuku empire.
In an interview with Lucky Peach, Chang called Nishi — which will serve Korean food inspired by Italy — a representation of his team’s higher skill level after years of running other restaurants. “Nishi is what Noodle Bar would be if I opened it up as a thirty-eight-year-old, not a twenty-six-year-old,” Chang said. “We know how to play all our instruments now.”
Josh Pinsky and Carey Hynes, both formerly of Momofuku Ko, will run Nishi, with Pinsky as executive chef. “I’m going to be here for the opening, but this is Josh’s restaurant,” said Chang. “None of this was part of the plan. We never have a strategic vision. Up until two months ago, this was going to be Fuku++.”
As for the menu, the only goal is to do what’s never been done at Momofuku before. “We’re inspired by Italy but we’re not using any Italian ingredients. Things are moving at light speed here.
“Take su jae bi. It’s the same thing as malfati, which is essentially the same thing as chicken and dumplings. The best version of chicken and dumplings is not made with a home broth but with chicken bouillon loaded with MSG. The chicken broth for su jae bi is made with seaweed and dried anchovies — which add MSG — and the “noodles” are roughly-made flour dumplings. Malfati is basically dumplings cooked in chicken soup with a ton of parmesan — which adds MSG — on top. What if we took the best of each dish and merged them into one? That’s what we’re doing here. It’s all three dishes at the same time.”
Looking to the future, Chang has also done away with tipping at Nishi, telling Lucky Peach, “Bottom line is we want to pay sous chefs, cooks, and dishwashers a living wage.”