When Tom and I go out to eat, especially at a place we know will knock our socks off, we pig out. Momofuku’s Korean cuisine never ceases to amaze us. The food is tremendous, and the artistic presentation and creative preparation really make you forget where you are and what’s around you. The loud music and conversational drone fades away and you devote every fiber of your being to enjoying these edible masterpieces. The food is so inspiring that we bought David Chang’s book Momufuku.. We’re very happy to have perfected the Steamed Pork Buns recipe at home so we can have it whenever we want. They really are addictively tasty.
We have visited Momofuku Ssäm Bar twice, and both times have been blown away by the quality of the cuisine. The simple menu and unassuming small restaurant with basic bench tables, wooden stools, and one very long bar is listed as one of the World’s Best 50 Restaurants. This past visit, a warm, familiar feeling surrounded us as we sat down at the bar. The menu is always changing, and we were excited to try new items like tripe, and also get an old favorite, the Steamed Pork Buns, but with a seasonal twist.
We started with the Mattaki Oysters from British Columbia with a little salted preserved plum mignonette. Honestly, they were the best oysters I’ve ever had. The sweet and saltiness worked well together.
For the first time in my life, I had tripe. We ordered the Spicy Honeycomb Tripe with ginger-scallion, celery, and pickled tomatoes. Tripe is the stomach lining of an animal such as a cow, pig, sheep or even deer. The tripe was prepared like pasta and even tasted like pasta with the other ingredients sprinkled over. For lack of a better word, it was amazing.
The Seasonal Pickles plate came out with a variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits that had been pickled in rice vinegar. We had pickled fennel, mushrooms, carrots, kim chee, celery, pears, turnips, beets and cucumbers that were so delicious.
Tom loves mushrooms, but I have never been a fan. The Chanterelles dish blew my mind. The mushrooms were roasted then prepared with pickled quail eggs, shaved bone marrow, and green juniper. The bone marrow gave the meaty chanterelles a buttery taste, and almost everything tastes better with egg. I easily could have eaten three bowls of the chanterelles by myself.
Momofuku had a special Steamed Pork Bun that day. The original is what they are known for, a hunky slice of fatty pork belly with salty-sweet hoisin sauce, crunchy cool cucumbers and scallions. Our special pork bun came with a breaded pork slice, pickled ginger, basil, pickled yellow beet, and I can’t really remember, but I think miso mayo. While the original is heartier and more savory, the special pork bun was lighter, more perfect for the end of summer, and scrumptiously good.
The Smoked Striped Bass was a mild dish with crunchy fish skin, macadamia milk, and peach and pineapple grass. It was wonderfully prepared, but I expected it to be sweeter. I think it was more of a shock to my taste buds not to have something savory.
And I can’t forget dessert! The Corn Ice Cream Pie is exactly what it is; an ice cream pie that tastes like sweet corn served with seasonal berries. But the balance of sweet and tart in the Apricot Sorbet with thyme mousse, tapioca, and shortbread crumbles was my favorite between the two.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar is located at 207 2nd Ave. on the corner of 2nd and 13th in the East Village. It’s open every day for lunch from 11:30 am-3:30 pm and dinner from 5pm- midnight with extended hours on Friday and Saturday. The Milk Bar is next door where they serve creative soft-serve yogurt, shakes, cakes, cookies, breads, and buns from 9 am- midnight. Visit the other Momofuku venues across Manhattan such as Ko, Má Pêche, and the Noodle Bar. http://www.momofuku.com/.