Last Meal: David Chang’s Time Machine


David Chang is even busier than usual, with his third East Village restaurant, Ko, about to open and his original Momofuku Noodle Bar having just relocated. But he took a few minutes to ponder the menu he would request as his final feast. Although it’s really more than one meal, it represents him well: a love of ramen, of course, and a deep admiration for fine dining. But then again, don’t forget the pork rinds or booze.

Are you ready to talk about your last meal? I dunno. I mean, what are the parameters?

There are none. You can travel through time, whatever . . . Well, I think, besides mom’s cooking—some braised short ribs and maybe her crab cakes—I’d have to have some meals that I never got a chance to eat. Like Lespinasse, when Christian Delouvrier was there, probably the opening team of Jean-Georges at Gramercy Tavern in 1998. These were all legendary crews. We just don’t have restaurants like that anymore. And I’d go to other places I have never been—like I’ve never done Europe before. I mean, I’ve done it like a bum, going from hostel to hostel, but I would go and do the fine dining there: Pierre Gagnaire, L’Arpége, Michel Bras. That’s just the start. There are so many places I’ve never been to. I’ve never eaten at El Bulli. I’d make sure all the friends were there for the whole trip, of course, and we’d just go everywhere. And be drunk the whole time. I mean, I’m on my deathbed, so I might as well.

Sure, there would be no hang-over to deal with. Yeah, and we’d end up in Beijing, eating crawfish and drinking a nice bottle of Bai Jiu, which is basically distilled anything. It could be rusty nails.

Is that something you’ve done before? Oh, yeah.

Tell me more about what you’d have your mom make you. She makes these ridiculously good crab cakes—just a little egg, a little mayo, lots of blue crab. And her short ribs, of course— I could really just eat that, a bowl of rice, her kimchi, and call it a day. But if I had an unlimited budget and a time-travel option, why not go for it? I could go on—like, I would definitely have to have some fried chicken, too, and french fries, and some really good bread and butter. Warm bread and salted butter. Maybe a fish taco going on there, and an ice-cold beer. Oh—Taishoken, at Higashi-Ikebukuro. I’d have to have a bowl of ramen there. It’s closed now.

Oh, good use of that time machine! Yeah, we’d do it all. From pork rinds to the highest of the high. Why not?