Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mini Momofuku Tour

Aside from visiting all the dessert shops, Howard and I wanted to do a Momofuku tour. At the time of this post, there are four Momofuku restaurants in New York City: Noodle Bar, Ssäm Bar, Ko, and Má Pêche. In addition, there are Momofuku Milk Bars, but more on that later.

To plan it, we looked at the restaurant hours, checked which ones took reservations, and read through the menus. While we would have loved to eat at all four, we decided to skip Ko because it was out of our dining budget.


Má Pêche
15 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

Monday, we made reservations to have lunch at Má Pêche, not knowing how packed it would be. From our experience, not very! We probably could have walked in. To get to Má Pêche, you pass a Momofuku Milk Bar on the main level (which was, I have to admit, a huge distraction for me).

The hostess was friendly and took us downstairs to the dining room. There's a tiny bar to the right of the stairs, the kitchen straight ahead, and the tables arranged in a large "X" shape. The dining room has high ceilings since the main floor doesn't cover it.

Looking around, it looked like most of the other diners were having a business lunch. A few couples and casual groups. Howard and I probably stood out as tourists since we were dressed pretty casually.

Our waitress was nice and helpful, we asked for recommendations and chatted about the menu. She strongly suggested that we also visit Ssäm Bar.

I ended up picking the prix-fixe:
1. summer rolls - pork, lettuce, hoisin sauce, peanut (pictured above)
2. rice noodles - spicy chicken, bok choy, basil, tomatoes
3. compost cookie - from Momofuku Milk Bar

The summer rolls were not different from how we would make them at home. So this appetizer didn't shine, but what we both noted was how fresh it tasted. I'm not sure if freshness is a flavour or just a comment on how natural the ingredients are.

The rice noodle dish surprised me, it wasn't the kind of pasta I had expected from a French-Vietnamese restaurant. Nor was the chicken spicy! For Howard's entrée, he had the brisket with noodles, cabbage, and herbs. That dish had the pho noodles I liked!

Howard and I also shared the crispy pork shank with yogurt, lime, and jicama. While it is listed under large plates, it's not very big. We both probably had three bites each. That dish deserved to be tried, it was well-seasoned and tasty.

Sorry for the lack of photos, but it was dim inside the dining room and we just ate!


Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, we were among the group of people waiting outside for lunch service to begin. We got to sit at the bar this time (click here for our first visit), but not the one facing the kitchen.

We don’t usually get a drink, but the lychee soju slushie (pictured above) sounded fun. It was pretty strong, I could have used more lychee. =P


To start, we got the famous pork buns, filled with hoisin, scallion, and cucumber. How do they get the pork so soft and lush?


I was there to try the kimchi stew with braised kimchi, pork shoulder, and rice cakes... but they were out of rice cakes. So here is my second choice, the spicy chicken ramen with tuscan kale, smoked sesame, and nori.


Howard got the chilled spicy noodles again! The waitress had to ask if he’s had it before because this dish is spicy, so be warned!


Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Friday, in the pouring (and I mean pouring) rain, we made it to Ssäm Bar for their duck dishes! FYI, they have hand dryers in the washroom, it helped me dry off a little bit.


We saw the sign on the door, reminding customers to keep the volume down for the neighbours. We can see how fun and rowdy this place can get during happy hour and into the night. The dark wood furnishing was nice and the open kitchen is always fun to watch.

At that time, there was someone taking photos inside the kitchen... hmm another cookbook project or a reporter?

It was counter service at lunch, so we ordered and took our playing card sign to a table of our choice.


The fried duck dumplings with summer beans and sriracha mayo. The dumplings were nicely fried, not overly oily or greasy. I didn’t care for the dip, but I’m not a fan of mayo.


The spicy fingerling potatoes with chili black bean sauce was appetizing. Howard mentioned that his father also makes a similar flavour (but not with potatoes).


Mmm our main dish! Rotisserie duck over rice with duck scallion, ssäm sauce, and crispy shallot. We went all out and added the lettuce and chive pancake.

Momofuku, we applaud you for making pork and duck taste so good.

We look forward to what Momofuku brings to Toronto next year!

3 comments:

  1. This all looks fanatstic I would be puzzled what to order;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the fact that pork buns can surprise an asian is testament to how good they are. I had them this summer...unlike any ive had before. Like you said, so soft and lush! haha Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dzoli, it always comes down to that! So hard to choose when you can't visit a restaurant frequently.

    CARMENHUNGRY, thank you! Glad to hear that you also liked the pork buns! =)

    ReplyDelete

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