This includes his Flagship in the East Village, Momofuku Ko. In order to get reservations for the coveted 32 spots for dinner, one does not depend on impressing the receptionist, nor could you claim to be friends with the chef, utilize your concierge at Waldorf Astoria, or part of the entourage of some celebrity. It is done in a very sterile manner through the internet. Reservations are open at 10am one week in advance. From there on, it is something like a lottery draw. With the Gods of the internet on your side and a 1000Mb/s connection, you MAY be able to secure your coveted seat, at your preferred time slot to indulge yourself in some of the most inventive cooking that you might have experienced. Frozen Foie served on Riesling Gelee, The Famous KO egg, steeped in Anise and served with Caviar. A myriad of unimaginable combination of ingredients and cooking methods that works. Cost is pretty reasonable. US 125 for a 8 course dinner lasting 2 hours.
One of the regulations for dining at Momofuku Ko (but not at the other Momofuku outlets) is that NO PHOTOGRAPHY is allowed. While doing the booking via internet, you will come across this clause. For me, it is understandable. Ko is a very small, spartan and narrow restaurant and the seating is not unlike in a Sushi Bar leaving very little space in between other diners. Those who are endeavoring to take the perfect shot and angle will certainly intrude into other diner's space. In fact, David, during an interview with Bourdain came up with a very famous (?disdainful) quote. "It's just food. Eat it!". Link to the video, click here.
This sparked a mini debate among foodies on whether restaurants should allow food pornographers and pimps to take photographs of the food they were being served. It seems quite a few fine dining establishments were not too happy with bloggers snapping pictures of their restaurants in careless abandon in New York.
The points raised were:-
1. Other Diners were annoyed at Foodies who used their flashes incessantly in the restaurant.
2. While trying to get a certain angle of the dish, the foodies invaded other Diner's "space".
3. The presence of foodies photographing their food is very distracting for other diners who felt like a photo shoot was going on at the other table.
It would be a matter of time before this trend of prohibiting photography, especially in fine dining restaurants hits our shore. Link to the "serious eats" website where this was discussed in June, click here.
I hope that I have not been guilty of these transgressions, and hope that other food bloggers will be aware of the potential discomfort food photography can be for other diners. I usually do not bring my Camera out to restaurants when I am on work-lidays because somebody else is sponsoring my trip and while having a meal with my sponsors, who usually go to great lengths to satisfy my lust for food, I cannot appear to be distracted. It would be rude.
I don't know about your guys, as far as the no photography policy in restaurants, I am fine with it. I have to respect the rules of the restaurant that I am dining in. Some require formal attire, some do not allow noisy mobile phones, some do not allow photography. Fine. But, I would like to be informed about it to prevent a potentially embarrassing situation for both me and the restaurant itself. Probably a no photography sign at the entrance would suffice.
As for Momofuku, the book, it was a good read. It is a honest testament of his obsessive passion for Ramen, a tribute to the people who have helped paved his career and a treasure trove of ideas, recipes and facts. The other book on the bottom right is Low Boy, which is an exhilarating journey to the depths of New York Subway with a Schizophrenic Teenager, try to save the world from a meltdown.
I am hoping some of the celebrity food bloggers would start a side column listing restaurants where photography is not allowed, to be updated regularly by the readers. Please do not misunderstand my intentions. It is not a call to boycott the restaurants or to punish them. But I am sure you would like to know beforehand before you lug your 1 kilo DSLR, set it up and after that, told in a nice way that you can't take photos.
Have a nice weekend, everybody!