Momofuku Las Vegas opened with very little fanfare this week at Cosmopolitan. A friend was walking past it on his way to pay final respects to Blue Ribbon Sushi (it closes on the 15th of January 2017) and saw that it was open. He immediately made a reservation for the next day.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed in Las Vegas’ current evolution is the variety of dining options. There are new types of cuisine making their way into casinos and Momofuku was one that I was looking forward to. David Chang’s other restaurants have received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Expectations were high since Momofuku Las Vegas is a combination of recipes from other Momofuku restaurants around the world (click on our restaurants for locations).
I generally try to avoid restaurants during their first week or two after opening. Restaurants usually need time to work out some kinks and ensure that all systems are properly streamlined. Expectations were high and so was my excitement for Momofuku. Unfortunately, this visit to Momofuku reminded me why I usually stay away from new restaurants. The service and food were a bit underwhelming but that could be fixed in time.
momofuku – First Impressions
Our reservation was at 7 pm and we were told that our table wouldn’t be ready for 10-15 minutes despite arriving on time. I’m used to this, but my friend found that to be strange. The hostess offered seats at the bar and even though we said “no,” we were sat at the bar a few minutes later. We were hungry so we sat down anyway. It was kinda cool to have a straight ahead look into the open kitchen but it was a bit noisy. The noise almost drowned out the fantastic 1980’s hip-hop that was playing above.
We could hear noise from the kitchen and the multitude of servers walking in front of us. The traffic and noise is a bit distracting but probably not a big deal if you’re dining alone or in the dining room. Our server was also a bartender who appeared to be a bit overwhelmed. A different person was asked to take our order and mixed some items up.
I was served a Chicken Karaage Bun ($7) that I didn’t order instead of the Pork Belly Bun ($7) that I did order. Eventually, they brought out the correct bun for me. My friend ordered a Shrimp Bun ($8) that didn’t show up until his main course.
That Chicken Karaage Bun with spicy mayo pickled red onion, and iceberg lettuce was delicious. It was the best thing I would eat at Momofuku all night. The Pork Belly Bun with hoisin, scallion, and cucumber wasn’t good at all. The pork belly had no flavor. The fixings in the bun didn’t offer anything that could save the bun from being left half eaten.
momofuku – Overall Thoughts
Our seats at the bar felt a little awkward (they probably weren’t, but that’s how I felt) so I didn’t feel comfortable eating ramen. I chose the Smothered Katsu Chicken ($32) with shiitake gravy and black pepper.
Calling the sauce “smothered” is putting the coverage lightly. The chicken was drowning in a sauce which had a forest full of mushrooms and seemingly too much heavy cream. While the chicken was as tasty as the bun version, the sauce was a bit much.
I made it through about half the dish before giving up. The shiitake flavor was overwhelming and the cream from the sauce was too heavy. Since this was the second day of operation, I think that something was a bit funky with the recipe. My friend agreed and went back to his pork ramen.
A friend was dining in the restaurant, not the bar, and said that the experience was better all around. With that in mind, I’m willing to give Momofuku a pass for the time being and chalk my experience up to opening week jitters. There aren’t many restaurants that offer this kind of cuisine on the Vegas Strip, so I’ll keep an eye out for future reviews.