Had the opportunity to visit the great city of New York this past weekend and make it a point to hit up Momofuku for lunch on the Sunday we were there. I’ll start by admitting that I’ve been really into the Momofuku cookbook. I haven’t yet made many recipes from it just yet besides the Momofuku chicken wings, but that will change, especially after making my first trip to Noodle Bar. If you haven’t heard of Momofuku, it’s the restaurant group started by David Chang in New York and has been wildly successful since its inception. If you want to read more, see here and here.
What everyone usually talk about is the pork buns, which have been replicated here in Boston by chef Phillip Tang at East by Northeast in Cambridge (yes, they’re delicious here too). Also, Momofuku Noodle Bar especially is famous for its Ramen noodles, and no, we’re not talking about some garbage 50 cent Top Ramen package with the foil flavor packet. I made another point of ordering the Momofuku ramen too – which was truly delicious – served with shredded pork shoulder, two slices of slow cooked pork belly, bamboo shoots, slow poached egg and minced scallions and I haven’t even started talking about the noodles. A decadent, insanely comforting and delicious dish.
We started out with a pork bun each, which actually surprised me a little due to how much pork is actually in these things. I was expecting them to be a little bit smaller, but I’m not complaining. The other thing that’s nice about these is the buns themselves. For some reason when I was thinking about ‘steamed bread’, I wasn’t really that excited about this – I mean c’mon, steamed bread? Sounds sort of damp and soggy, but trust me it isn’t. The buns are a really good consistency, topped with Hoisin sauce, a few cucumbers and then folded over around a major league slice of tender pork belly. Everything perfect besides the fact that I wanted my pork belly crisped up a bit. No complaints though, these things killed it. We also sampled the chicken wings, which were smoky and good – the XO vinaigrette was much better than the one I made in the recipe above.
There were 7 f us eating and 4 ordered the Momofuku Ramen – me included. Others in our party ordered the ginger-scallion noodles, which were my second favorite dish here – topped with the famous ginger-scallion sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. The best part about both of these dishes though was the noodles themselves. They are a recipe that I really want to not only make but master and make often. We also ordered a small pot of kimchi which paired with all of the noodle dishes really well.
Another element that I thought was really interesting about the cookbook was the slow poached egg, which was also included right in the middle of the ramen bowl. The yolk of the egg was perfectly runny and when mixed into the broth added an awesome richness. Our other 2 friends went out on a limb and ordered a special of the daily menu – a spicy lamb ramen with wide rice noodles, which was good, but didn’t hold a chance against the signature ramen dish.
Though the restaurant was damn busy (we made a point of getting there right at opening) – it’s not big and filled up in literally 15 minutes after opening at 12 noon on a Sunday, Momofuku did live up to the hype that we’d heard about: excellent food, just really comforting Asian cuisine and attentive service. I will do my best to make it to Ssam Bar and Ko before too long, as I’m interested in what else Chef Chang has to offer.
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