How To Judge A Restaurant By Its Bathroom, According To David Chang

It's not a secret that attention to detail matters to David Chang. The chef will judge you by the type of cutting board you own and, in his own line of work, he has helped pioneer contemporary culinary experimentation with koji, a type of mold, where attention to detail can make the difference between the best meal of your life and foodborne illness. In fact, Chang has become famous (at times, even infamous) for his high standard of perfectionism. In the chef's kitchen, he has made it clear that nothing but the best will do – and he has a secret tip for judging whether other restaurants operate by the same standard.

In an interview with GQ, Chang shares that his father had an enormous influence on his life. Joe Chang had a 30-year-long career in restaurants, and David Chang recalls that, whenever he went along with his father to dine out, Joe would always look at the bathroom before getting a table. "Whether it was a fancy restaurant or, more often than not, hole in the walls, he would always come back from the bathroom and [be] like, 'Okay, we can eat here.'" The state of the bathroom can tell you "volumes" about a restaurant, but not just at first glance. To really get a proper read on an establishment, says Chang, you have to get in there and look a little closer – as in, look at the back of the toilet.

Give the tank a 360 degree inspection

"The key is: Are they cleaning the back of the toilet? Cause, who cares about that? Who's cleaning the toilet? Literally, on the totem pole, the lowest person, right?" Chang tells GQ. "But if they're caring about that, rest assured that everything will be taken care of [for your meal.]" The chef shares that he has used his dad's method at some of the highest-ranked fine dining establishments in the world, and every time, the cleanliness of the back of the toilet has been indicative of the caliber of the meal he has eaten there – even if the rest of the bathroom is perfectly clean.

On the flip side, says Chang, at non-glamorous mom-and-pop shops, the bathroom might appear a little dingy until you see that it only looks worn down because of how much the bathroom has been scrubbed. Indeed, this attention to detail is how Chang has built Momofuku into the revered culinary empire it is today. (And you can rest assured that on the opening night of the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko, he examined the bathroom).

But Chang has shared that as Momofuku has expanded to a larger scale because it's harder to maintain strict quality standards. "You have to have the people believe that everything has to be right, and it's a battle to find the details," Chang says. "A great meal is a combination of all the small things that no one else cares about."