Thursday, February 28, 2013

Momofuku Ssam

Chef David Chang has an empire of restaurants in NYC. He has also expanded internationally to Sydney and Toronto. I probably won't ever visit those locations for the Momofuku chain. I still haven't made my way around all the Momofuku restaurants in NYC. I've only explored Ko and Ma Peche. Both with delicious results. So when the opportunity came up to try Momofuku Ssam with Mrs. Green M&M, her sister, Mr. HP Sauce, Ms. Pastry Chef, and Mr. M&P I happily obliged.

The dishes at Ssam are made to share so a couple of us ordered for the group. We started with their classic steamed pork buns with unctuous pork belly with pickles and hoisin sauce in a bun. I think the Momofuku chain makes the best pork belly buns. They're generous with the fatty pieces of pork (two large slices), the buns are always soft, the pickles tart and crunchy, and the hoisin sauce sweet. The talking stopped as we plowed through this dish.
The chicken liver mousse was rich, creamy, and intense. A little goes a long way here as the liver taste can be too much for some people. I enjoyed it and thought they executed it well. No grit and no residual iron taste. Just smooth and decadent.
The beef tartare was something special too. Freshly ground beef lightly dressed with an egg yolk on top for extra richness. Fresh, light, and delicate. It's a great way to showcase the quality of ingredients.
The next dish was fried soft shelled crab and avocado was a little less exciting. Nothing was wrong with it per se but it just didn't do anything that wowed us. The crab was fried well and the avocado was smooth.
We also ordered a whole porgy which was steamed with soy sauce. This was excellent. It was prepared very similar to what I grew up with. A very simple way to present the fish as a whole. Steamed until cooked through then garnished with aromatics. Perfectly flaky sweet meat balanced with the salty soy sauce.
For sides, we had the braised swiss chard with fish sauce. The greens were cooked well and retained a nice texture when we bit into it. The fish sauce was a nice funky surprise flavor but not overpowering.
The second side dish was the spicy pork sausage rice cakes with crispy shallots. These weren't overly spicy and well flavored. The fried shallots was nice next to the chewy sticks of rice cakes. The fresh scallions really helped add a hint of freshness to the dish. I could eat this on its own.
And because we weren't just quite full yet, we ordered another plate of the pork buns. However, we opted for the BBQ bun this time with a crispy pork belly, coleslaw, and smoked mayo. These were okay and didn't stand up to the regular pork buns we had earlier in the night.
We were really happy with the food at Momofuku Ssam. Things were executed well and the pacing was perfect. We left with our stomachs full and our faces smiling. I definitely would go back to try out other items on their seasonal menu.

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500
momofuku.com

5 comments:

  1. haven't been here in a long time. gotta go back soon.

    have you seen The Mind of Chef on PBS? Chang's tv show. pretty interesting.

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    Replies
    1. I have! And am fully enjoying it. I really want to go to Japan.

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  2. Those are some stuffed to the brim pork buns.

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  3. Sweet. Those side dishes look delicious.

    Pork buns were okay to me at his Noodle bar location. Glad to see they also give two huge belly slices.

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  4. I was here recently for the Bo Ssam and had both types of buns as well. I actually preferred the BBQ buns, although I'm not entirely sure it's not just because the BBQ ones are way bigger. Still love the original ones, though.

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