Friday, May 28, 2010

A Momofuku Ssam Bar Medley + Milk Bar Nightcap

On Sunday night, Greeshma and a couple of her friends gathered together at Momofuku Ssam Bar to bid dear Belmund adieu in style.  Belmund even showered for the event.  We all appreciated it.

Momofuku was bumpin' per usual, and we waited about 25 minutes for a table of 4.  Tables can be a tad communal; we shared a long table with a party of 3 who kept making comments about my picture-taking.  "Maybe a food blog?" they said loudly to each other.

Oh, how astute the patrons of Momofuku are.

Momofuku's menu changes often, but typically feature the following sections: Raw Bar (i.e., oysters, uni), Small Dishes (i.e., steamed buns), Country Hams (variety of ham options, because as Greeshma put it, ol' David Chang likes his hams), Seasonal (veggies of sorts), Fish (including seafood) and Meat (i.e., meat).

We decided to order one dish from every section excluding Raw (that's for you, Diana).

Momofuku steam buns ($9)  featuring two slices of well-cooked pork belly, with the perfect balance of meat and fat, nestled inside a thin steamed bun lightly slathered with hoisin sauce with expertly sliced, wispy scallions and cucumber slices.

Momofuku bun opened. 

Every review you'll read of this bun is right: it's a good bun !  It's solid in every single way EXCEPT if you favor the bun part of pork buns most, which we all know Greeshma does very much.  If that is the case, then this one is probably not the best one for you since the bun itself is very thin.  And I am not sure why this is, but the bun always sticks to my teeth while I'm eating it.  It's a bit annoying, especially when you want to look sexy for your man (who doesn't?).  So, while it's good, it's not my favorite.

Benton's country ham from the Country Hams section.  This came at the recommendation of the waitress as most popular.  It came with two small slices of French bread which happened to be the toughest bread Greeshma and I have ever tried to slice with a butter knife.  The ham was sliced paper thin though so it looks rather pretty.  It also came with some sort of mustard that looked like peanut butter.

My ham and bread assembly.  I would say that if you're looking for instant hypertension, definitely order the Benton's ham.  It was the saltiest thing ever.  My jaw also got a good workout trying to chew that bread.  I would recommend saving your $11 and not ordering this dish.

Chili soft shell crab with asparagus, green plum and lemon confit ($21)

Soft shell crab piece.  The crab is a bit small, so we all just got a couple bites of it each.  I mostly tasted the fried exterior versus the crab itself.   The small pieces of asparagus were good, but it's the kind of veggie that's kind of tough to mess up.

Fried baby artichokes with pistachio, sunchokes and bottarga ($14).  My taste palate may not be discrimating enough - it just tasted like fried leaves.  The green sauce was good, but I really have no idea what was going on here.

Spicy pork sausage and rice cakes with Chinese broccoli and crispy shallots ($18)

The rice cakes tasted just like clumps made of the rice crepes or bánh cuốn except chewier.  I especially liked how spicy this dish was.  The serving was a pretty healthy size compared to our other dishes.

I was glad to have been able to eat at Momofuku with a group of people, because it really is hard to get a nice sampling of the restaurant when dining by yourself here without footing a large bill.  The four of us got out of Momofuku for about ~$26/person and were able to taste a nice assortment.  While the food tasted fine, I just didn't feel super impressed by it: it wasn't necessarily outstanding in any way.  I keep thinking that maybe I just don't have the right palate to appreciate fancy foods, but whatever it is, it was nice to eat there once, but I don't know if I would return again anytime soon.

During dinner, Belmund kept reminding us that we had to check out the Milk Bar, David Chang's extension to Ssam Bar, offering a variety of desserts.  We could never forget Milk Bar after trying their red velvet custard recently.

Dark Milk Bar interior with chalkboard menu.

Birthday cake.  Greeshma and I shared our love for Funfetti cakes while looking at this one.

My heart was set on the chocolate malt cake.  Just look at the gooey icing and the mounds of marshmallows, and try to convince yourself you don't want a hot bath in that deliciousness.  Unfortunately, when I tried to order myself a fat slice, they informed me that they have stopped selling cake by the slice.  You can only order a whole one for $38.  In my humble opinion, I call this the worst move ever, Momofuku!  Patrons behind me also shared this sentiment.

Sample of the cinnamon bun soft serve.  Buttery and cinnamony.

Blueberry soft serve.  Tasted just like blueberry muffins.

Cinnamon bun pie, which tasted like its namesake, of course.  Was served warm and oozy.

Crack pie.  One of Milk Bar's most popular.

As you can see from this side shot, it has a pure stick of butter in every slice.

The grasshopper pie.

So. Minty. It was very refreshing.  Greeshma says the best part of it were the toasted marshmallows.

The candy bar pie (my poor alternate to the chocolate malt cake) which has peanut butter and caramel nougat.

Man, this was peanut buttery.  And tooth-achingly rich from the thick layer of caramel.  It was good but in small doses.  I still have about half of this left in my fridge.
All in all, Momofuku Ssam Bar was okay.  Milk Bar, pretty good.  I think any quintessential New York visit is not complete without a visit to one of his spots, but I still need to try his others to recommend you the right one. 

207 2nd Ave
New York, NY


  1. omg the pork bun looks sooooooooo good. but you're right, i totally want to try that other bun place. and cinnamon bun soft serve!!! gimme gimme gimme.

  2. I only showered before Momofuku not for you guys, but as so other people in the other restaurant didn't stare at me in disgust.