Thought you would have a leisurely, uneventful Friday morning, did ya? Leave it to David Chang to change all that by pulling a Beyoncé and dropping a surprise dining bomb that Momofuku Nishi—his first full-service Momofuku restaurant in five years—is not only ready to go, but it's also opening tonight in Chelsea at 232 Eighth Avenue. Now, before you start clamoring for what will likely be an impossible-to-score table, here's all the scoop you need to know.
About that name: Nishi was originally "going to be Fuku++," Chang says in an interview with Lucky Peach. "But then people told me we couldn’t call it that so we called it Nishi, for West, because it was west of wherever the fuck we were."
Helming the kitchen is executive chef Joshua Pinsky, joined by sous chef Carey Hynes, both Ko alums. Of that much-rumored Korean-Italian hybrid menu, Chang says, “There are Italian words on the menu but we’re not trying to make Italian food. We’re not trying to make a Korean restaurant. We’re trying to do something that we’ve never done at Momofuku." That means potential plates like a chicken-and-dumplings cross between su jae bi and malfati, and a cacio e pepe riff that swaps out standard parmesan for a months-fermented chickpea paste. "Almost all of the meats are inspired by Chinatown. Cantonese stuff, barbecue," Chang tells LP. "The desserts are inspired by our moms."
Chang also adds that Nishi is jumping on the no-tipping bandwagon and that people should expect prices more in line with the group's higher-end restaurants than its fast-casual Fuku shops. "It pisses me off that Asian food has to be cheaper. Why? Not one person has given me a reason why," Chang says. "All the ingredients that we’re getting are top quality, and just as expensive as any other restaurant."
Nishi will be open for dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 6pm to 11pm. And while food lovers and Momofuku fans will undoubtably be excited, Chang's got another word for it: "We’re nauseous—and that’s good, because we haven’t felt like that in a long time. I’m terrified of this restaurant. Every opening feels like shit, but we don’t even know how this going to be perceived.
h/t Lucky Peach