42 Comment

  • Just ok. Underwhelmed. Same issues I have with lots of DC restaurants: overpriced food and drink that’s mostly mediocre. Service was good, though, which I find rare in DC. The space felt crowded and was rather noisy. The Milk Bar desserts that had gotten rave reviews really disappointed me. The crack pie was dry and meh. Want really tasty soft serve ice cream? Go to Doi Moi instead. I preferred my visit to Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC several years ago.

    • pcat

      I agree 1000%. I’ve tried this place twice and have been underwhelmed both times. I went for a group of friends for the fried chicken dinner — special reservations required/no special food. The Milk Bar cookies come wrapped in plastic. It’s fascinating to watch the long lines for this place when it clearly is just so-so.

    • justinbc

      Agreed with most everything you stated. I was hoping this would be an entirely new restaurant for David Chang, not just a rehash / cash grab. I figured since he was from the area (Vienna) he would care a little more, but this isn’t even on par with its NYC location.

      • During an event at the Smithsonian the other month, Chang mentioned that he had wanted to do something different in the DC location but had struggled with the rapid growth of his empire. He is opening a lot of restaurants, and I believe that he had trouble finding suitable kitchen staff here. I find it odd that he seems to have gone all-in on Toronto while the DC effort seems so-so.

        • All in on Toronto? In what way? The milk bar is nothing compared to the milk bar in NYC. It’s basically just a shop. They only have 2 flavors of soft serve and NEVER AGAIN! I got the regular sized soft serve and it was $14! It wasn’t bad, but definitely not as good as I remember when I had it in NYC.

          • They have five spots open in Toronto. One of the places, Shōtō, is what I would have expected to see in DC, though, as other posters have noted, the DC location isn’t really conducive to high-end, low volume settings.

        • You can’t go “all in” in DC when they only pay the head chef 15$ per hour. The good chefs follow the money where they are making 20$ per hour or 30$ per hour. Toronto chefs make closer to 50$ per hour but it’s Canadian $.

          • +1 Many diners fail to realize how enormously underpaid DC chefs are. There’s a huge shortage of quality chefs in the area, mostly because it’s a tremendously unrewarding profession.

    • Honestly, Milk Bar has been one of the biggest disapointments in DC dining I have had. All the desserts taste purely of sugar and seem to be a day old. There are several better bakeries in DC, including Rare Sweets right around the corner.

    • Someone bought me a big package of Milk Bar cookies. I ended up giving them to my co-workers. They were all so salty as to be inedible. Salt was literally the only ingredient I could taste.

  • I attempted to get soft serve. The flavors were ‘cereal milk’ and ‘pretzel.’ I test-tasted the cereal milk and it tasted like corn flakes. Not even Frosted Flakes. It didn’t feel like a treat. 🙂

  • It’s pretty much what one would expect, Tom Sietsema’s review is spot on. It seems like a momofuku greatest his restaurant rather than a new/different/interesting concept. That said the food is well executed and reasonably priced for the location. David Chang pretty directly inspired a lot of the big new DC chefs, so if it seems a little played out, I just see that as a testament to the extent of his influence.
    .
    And I don’t know what else one would expect given the location downtown (in CCDC) and size of the investment investment. It’s not a place you’d expect to see chefs take a risk. Most people come expecting something specific and it delivers.
    .
    I’ve not tried the milkbar.

    • Should be: “momofuku greatest *hits* restaurant”

    • Completely agree. I’ll also add that, for those of us who haven’t been able to go up to New York in the last decade to fight for a reservation at one of David Chang’s restaurants, this is a welcome opportunity to enjoy what we know he’s really good at. For some people, the avant garde is the draw and this restaurant is not that, but for me, the well-executed, reasonably priced fare is worthwhile.

      Also, the beef noodle soup? I am ruined for other beef broth forever.

  • This place is the exact same as its NYC sisters. Which is to say, just basic pan-asian food. After dining at many well know NYC restaurants, I’ve found a very “emperor has no clothes” mentality. People rave, but it’s nothing special. This place is a lesser version of many other notable Asian restaurants here, but due to the name brand factor it gets a ton of hype that just isn’t deserved. There’s no culinary difference between their other outposts and here, it’s just that the emperor has no clothes. It would be the same (ok, maybe not the same) as if they opened a Ben’s Chili Bowl in NYC. Or a Wawa in Dallas. Or a In and Out Burger in Paris. I think folks in each place would be equally underwhelmed because the lore (hype) doesn’t match the reality.

    With all that being said, if I want solid pan-Asian cuisine at fairly good prices, I would go here. I just wouldn’t be willing to wait more than 10 minutes or ever call it world class cuisine.

    • That’s complete bs, you have no idea what you’re talking about. There are certainly similar places now, and some are better. But when David Chang opened in ny it was completely unique, and in places other than DC he continues to innovate.

      • Disagree. Completely unique in what way? The level of hype? I also ate at the NY location and was unimpressed.

  • west_egg

    Their lunchtime takeout options have been pretty solid in my experience. Not the least expensive lunch around but it’s well-prepared and the portions are large (two meals’ worth if I’m being honest with myself, which I’m usually not).

  • Overrated. I echo everything that has been written. The ramen was mediocre to say the least. It lacked flavor. There’s no competition with Daikaya and Toki. The pork belly buns were the only highlights.

    • burritosinstereo

      I agree with you. I’ve only been once, but my ramen was perfectly FINE, and given the choice, I would rather have gone to Daikaya or Toki.

      • I will third that. I had been pretty excited, after having a very delicious meal and experience in NYC a few years ago. However, it was pretty blah and I wished I had just gone to one of the other great Asian places around town…

  • It’s just fine? Certainly not worth any of the hype. I agree with the gist of what others have said. It’s certainly not worth the wait and I wouldn’t go out of my way to dine there.

  • Is the Milk Bar set-up the same as NYC? Nothing is more inviting than to cram into a 15 sq foot space to order some dessert and promptly be shuffled back outside with nowhere to sit.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    I’m trying hard to remember the last time I ate something at a celebrity chef’s restaurant in DC that was exceptionally good. Mike Isabella’s new ventures at Nationals Park (Kapnos and Catchfly) were a pretty disappointing.

    • that’s super weird, because stadium food is usually on point.

      • reasonably priced as well

      • You have no idea what you’re talking about. If David Chang opened a food stand at the stadium, it would cost at least 20$ for a hot dog, but it would be soaking in the best broth you ever had. The chef would get paid well at that price point.

    • Kapnos on 14th and U was pretty great when I went. Haven’t tried it at the stadium, but this feta dip was amazing. I also liked China Chilcano a lot.

    • If I was going to City Center for lunch, I’d much rather have DBGB than momfuku. I actually thought DBGB was a pretty good celebrity chef place.

  • Overpriced, food is average at best.

    Ordered the margarita for 12 and it was the size of a small shot.

    Dessert was meh.

    • WTF do you expect? The ramen is 14$. You can easily get out of there for under 30$pp without drinks. Part of the reason food sucks in DC is that chefs are massively underpaid. There’s no incentive to stay in the profession. Prices there are totally reasonable and the quality is consistent. It’s both better food and a better value than anywhere else in CCDC or nearby.

  • I really didn’t care for the ramen at all. It tasted like liquefied pork (in a bad way). Pork buns and cereal milk soft serve were both solid though.

  • I really like the momofuk restuarants in nyc, especially when Momofuku Saam first opened. This location was underwhelming. the ramen was super salty and oily. the sides were good though.

  • I will say this place is extremely underwhelming and overpriced. I found the apps (steamed buns especially) to be great, but the ramen and the desserts are mediocre, at best.

    Best ramen in DC is still Daikaya. Can’t wait for their two new spots to open.

  • I thought Momofoku was good, not amazing. Milk Bar is delicious. The b’day cake truffles were so amazing. I’ve gone back a few times and sent some to my mother for Mother’s Day. The cereal-themed milkshakes and such are a little odder, but I likd the cinnamon pretzel shake alright.

  • Reading this makes me realize how totally out of touch DC eaters are with restaurant costs. This is a super expensive location and has pretty good quality staff throughout. most of the main dishes are 15-20$. You can easily eat dinner there for 30$ a head (not including drinks).
    .
    Sorry to tell you this, but if you want good food you’re going to have to pay for it. People seem to be expecting bargain basement prices on cutting edge food cooked to perfection. Well sorry to tell you but serving food in a 10 top restaurant for under 20$ a head is not going to pay the bills. Have some respect for the chefs, cooks, servers, bartenders, etc. you claim to like and let them earn a decent living like the people eating there.

    • I haven’t tried it, but I keep seeing people complain about $14-$20 for a meal and I’m baffled. I spend $12 in most of the sandwich places around here (that aren’t subways). You’re eating in a sit down restaurant with cooked food and complaining about $15?

    • I’m fine with the costs. I live in the neighborhood, and the cost is entirely consistent with other places. This just isn’t good food! Such a shame, as I loved it in NY. Thankfully, we have a lot of other good places to get ramen, just none are as close to me as this one.

    • Also baffled by these particular complaints. The appetizers are comparatively a bit pricey, but even as someone relatively new to DC I don’t balk at paying 16 dollars for a meal. I did laugh a little when they brought me my tiny margarita, but I’d order it again because it was delicious.

      As for the food, I must consistently pick whatever it is the chef is particularly excited to prepare, because it’s been great both times.

  • The mushroom buns are excellent, and the seven spice sour cocktail is one of my favorite cocktails in the city. The rest was very meh.

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