As readers of our blog know, James and I love David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar, in downtown Manhattan. We love it so much we decided to venture there, with our parents, for James's recent birthday.
We were excited to share our fave kimchee-laced brussels sprouts and sinfully rich ramen with our folks, but I guess we were in a bit of a bubble and failed to realize our parents might not want to crowd onto tiny stools for grub that doesn't quite fit in their comfort zone.
Our market research told us that on a weekend night we best arrive early. 5:20pm found us waiting outside the door, the first people there. The waitress who had told us "the line starts at 5pm" was a tad off the mark. No matter. What did matter was that my father had to arrive late, and, Momofuku being one of those "no reservations, we can't seat you until all members of your party are here" establishments, it gave us a tussle about our table. We had to insist we'd order for my father. The manager said that we could save a seat for him but that if the place filled up he'd have to give away that seat.
Now, Momofuku has grown very big in stature (and bigger in size, since it recently moved to a bigger space), which is great for it, but in the process it's gotten an entirely new staff. Not everyone is as mellow and cool (host with the wacky '80's haircut, I'm referring to you) as the old staff. And indeed, talking to this new manager was like being on the phone with Delta Airlines. There was no reasoning with him and he spit out dictates that didn't make sense in the context: to wit, our potentially having to cede my father's chair midway through the meal although we would have set the space and ordered food for him.
We made it to the table, though (as did my dad, about 30 min. later), and our mothers had to sit on their coats and wiggle into their stools. When the food came, they thought it was weird, but couldn't deny the tastiness of the kimchee and charred mackerel. The runny egg on top of the ramen frightened some at the table.
I think all in all we realized that while the dorm-room, guerilla theater elements of the restaurant thrill us, to our folks, it's a little shady. They dine out for comfort and ease, not necessarily to be challenged. And by the way, at around 6:30pm, there were still plenty of seats, although when we left at 7pm there was the proverbial "line out the door."