Momofuku Ssam Bar = best. lunch. ever.
I’m a terrible food blogger. You should all know this up front. I haven’t even finished blogging my first NY food binge from March, and here I am again in the city eating MORE. Not to mention all the other things I’ve tried in the meantime. Crap.
To make it up to you, I’m going to tell you a little story. One about the best lunch ever, the one I had today with the Mister at Momofuku Ssam Bar. But (here I am again, being all terrible), I don’t have any pictures for you. I know. Seriously.
Why no food porn? Considering that I take pictures of the most mundane meals, and here I am at one of the most hyped restaurants in the city with nothing? It might be that I saw a clip of Bourdain and David Chang of Momofuku that totally ripped food bloggers a new one. It might be that Robyn, the Girl Who Ate Everything, has enough gorgeous images of everything we ate, plus better stories of the Momofuku than I do. Or it might be that me and the Mister were so busy orgasmically savoring the food that taking time to snap photos seemed too big a sacrilege. In any case, I have no photos of our amaaaazing lunch, so you will just have to use your imagination for now.
I know the economy is shit-tastic, but here’s where Momofuku is your friend. The $25 prix fixe is a ridiculously low price for the sheer amount of food we had, and you *will* have leftovers, even if sharing between two, like we did. Lunch = less crowded, less expensive, more awesome. Get it?
I ordered: pork buns + spicy chinese sausage and rice cakes + thai ice tea parfait
The mister had: kimchi apple salad + braised beef brisket + blondie pie
I’d been hearing about the pork buns from everyone for months, and they did not disappoint. The pork belly was cooked perfectly and everything just melts in your mouth. I took a chance with the sausage and rice cakes, and was rewarded. It looked like a hash and was sheer fatty delight. The rice cakes were just the right density, with a little bit of crunch on the outside and the sausage was out of its casings and just mixed together with the shallots, garlic, hot peppers, and whatever other magical seasonings they put in it for pure taste sensation. The portion of the main (rice cake) dish was HUGE, so I can’t wait to heat some up for dinner tonight, too. Mmm.
Meanwhile, the mister’s orders were just as fantastic. I’d actually asked him to order the kimchi apple salad, even though he’s a little allergic to raw apples, because we were sharing everything family-style. I didn’t know what to expect with this one– raw apples marinated/coated in kimchi seasoning and onions, topped with slabs of crispy fried bacon, basil, and a dressing (ranch-esque) on the side. It looked crazy, and was a bitch to eat with chopsticks, but WOW. The play of the fresh apples and spicy kimchi flavors with the richness of the bacon and dressing was such a treat. I might have to try and copy this at home. Nom nom nom.
The beef brisket main the mister ordered was actually like a pho– brisket with rice noodles in broth with scallions and other green things. It could have been totally average if not for the just-right brisket (nice crust, good texture against the smoothness of the rest of the soup) and full beef flavor of the broth. Another win there.
By the time dessert came, we were totally defeated. Still, for the sake of this blog (ha), we soldiered on. The blondie pie with cashew topping was good, if a little too dense for my taste. The thai ice tea parfait was BANGING, however. It was very similar to the root beer parfait we had at Cochon, actually, only presented much differently. I still don’t know how these chefs turn liquids into gels (i’m sure it’s some kind of molecular gastronomy thing I don’t have the will to learn about), but the results are always heavenly. The parfait is a signature dish at Momofuku, and for good reason. Don’t miss out on that one.
Other components of our meal: We started out with some incredible tender, impossibly fresh hamachi with a wasabi spread for $16, a bottle of South Korean OB Beer (basic lager, $5) for me, and a $7 Saison-style ale by these Chicago brewers (the mister wrote down the name of the brewery, I’ll update it later when I find out!). And while the hamachi is totally worth it, I probably wouldn’t have felt so gut-bustingly full at the end of the meal if we had skipped it.
I was worried we wouldn’t get seats, but going to Ssam bar on a rainy Monday during lunch time was perfect. Just a few solo diners and two couples were there when we arrived around noon; by the time we left at 1:30, the two larger tables were filled, but there was no wait for a table and the service remained impeccable. Add to that an ‘eclectic’ soundtrack wafting through the restaurant (it literally sounds like the Mister’s iPod on shuffle, which could be a good or terrible thing, depending on your taste), and our lunch here was just about… perfect. (I know, I can’t help it with the repetition. It was really that good.)
So yes. That’s all I have to say about our long-awaited meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar. I know it’s not the same without the attending photos, but uh… click on Robyn’s posts to see the pictures of what I’m talking about! I’m telling you, this place is worth it. Union Square and east village denizens, you are some lucky bastards for having this place in the ‘hood.
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003