After a bumpy start in City Center, the Momofuku team brought in Chef Tae Strain, who has spent the last year or so really turning things around. We’d heard things were on the up and up, so I was happy when Momofuku invited us in to try the brunch menu.
The City Center space is largely industrial, with high ceilings and windows that let in lots of light. There’s not much in the way of decor except a large peach logo embossed on the wall. The simplicity of the space lets you focus on the food and the people. Happily, service was friendly and knowledgeable across the board.
We started with cocktails, feeling in the mood for gin. The Heliotrope is a beautiful bright fuchsia cocktail made with terroir gin, beet, lemon, ginger, and egg white and served in a Nick and Nora coupe. The Kira’s Cup is a twist on a Pimm’s Cup, with London gin, cucumber, elderflower and tonic. Light and refreshing, this is a great brunch drink.
The kitchen sent out a sampler of dips to try with its homemade bing bread, which is similar a naan. The dips are usually ordered separately, but I’d encourage the restaurant to offer them as a sampler as well — as they each brought something different to the table. The pimento cheese bing with salted chili with bread and butter kohlrabi was a fun twist on this Southern classic. I can understand how it’s such a fan favorite. The sunflower hozon bing with marinated radish and sesame, and the smoked Carolina trout dip with pickled red onion and furikake were both interesting and satisfying. My favorite of the bunch was the Path Valley cultured butter bing. This butter is sourced from a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and is topped with honey and gochugaru. Seriously, I want it bottled.
Entree-wise, you can’t go wrong with the spicy fried chicken. It’s a perfectly cooked slab of dark meat topped with pickle slaw and smoked jalapeno mayo. The chef sent out hot sauce but it really doesn’t need it. The sandwich already packs a punch of heat and flavor. This is definitely our pick for our favorite brunch dish of the menu.
We also tried the shrimp and grits which comes with a full head and body of the prawn, plus poached egg, toasted chili, and pickled shiitake. The presentation is lovely but the flavors lacked in comparison to the fried chicken.
Anxious to try one more brunch entree, we settled on the French toast bread pudding, topped with poached pear, walnuts, and creme fraiche. We were happy that the toast was not too sweet but unfortunately the whole dish felt a little bland. The pear didn’t do much to add flavor; perhaps it needs the tartness of a berry to cut through it.
However, if you’re not into brunch dishes as dessert, you can always order off the Milkbar menu. Say hello to those birthday cake pops!
The Bitches say: four Champagne flutes. Momofuku offers an out-of-the-box brunch menu that appeals to a variety of palates.
Momofuku serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.