Gael Greene finally weighs in on her date with Tom Dobrowski, the Craigslister who was accused of canceling his reservation at Momofuku Ko only to show up playing dumb. Following in the steps of The Wall Street Journal reviewer, the Insatiable Critic bemoans the dour chefs, or “Stepford cooks” as she describes them: “Too joyless, rushed, indifferent, possibly bored.” Nevertheless — with the exception of finding the desserts more interesting than delicious and downright hating the bowl of foie gras shavings, Riesling gelée, pine-nut brittle and nuggets of litchi — she admires much of their output as “provocative and delicious.” But let’s face it, it’s not the food we’re dying to hear about. What was the “shocking farewell” from Chef Chang that Gael promised to tell us about?
Then suddenly there is Chang himself “inviting” the happy-go-lucky Dobrowski outside for a chat. I feel a fog of doom descend? Chang’s temper is well-documented. Is it the mysterious cancellation? Are we about to be tossed out? Has Tom been banished? Is he lying in the gutter never to return. I feel people pretending not to stare. I imagine the cooks’ hostility mounting.
“He was asking about the cancelled reservation,” Tom offers, as he returns to his seat moments later. “I told him I never cancelled it. Why would I cancel my reservation and then post an ad on Craigslist? It doesn’t make sense.”
I try not to let the Hitchcockian plot spoil my pleasure in the pineapple sorbet on spicy pineapple. Is Tom a heroic Jimmy Stewart, paranoid Cary Grant or total innocent? But then, an officious type brandishing his BlueBerry [sic], accosts Tom right there, at the counter. “There it is,” he says, pointing to some indecipherable print on the miniscule screen, “Your cancellation.”
Tom asks for the check — his treat for the pleasure of my company, he says But the hostess announces there is no check. “Your meal has been comped.”
“But I have to pay,” I blurt out.
“Why?” Tom asks.
“I believe Chef Chang feels that if we have made a mistake, you should be our guest and if you have made an error, we don’t want your money.”
I am stung. How rude. How stupid and insulting did Chang need to be? Henri Soulé used to tear up a check in a fit of pique and so did Andre Surmain in the earliest days at Lutèce. But they had earned their credentials. Chang is still climbing the foothills of the Himalayas in my book.
Momofuku: Ko Sorry [Insatiable Critic]