I’m a little late on the train, but the Momofuku empire has had a huge following for years. The brilliant chef, David Chang, started the Momofuku brand in 2003 with the ‘Momofuku Noodle Bar’ in the East Village of Manhattan. Since then, he’s added Momofuku Ssäm Bar (2006), Momofuku Ko (early 2008) and Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar (late 2008). Then in 2009 he released a cookbook that became an instant must-have. Over those years, he has managed to create menus at each respective establishment that reflect his culinary background and viewpoint: simple dishes delivering profound flavors. I’ve read about the chef and his brand from many different sources - New York Times, The New Yorker, and of course hundreds of blogs. I’ve wanted to try his recipes, and of course eat his food. While I have yet to be brave enough to try his fried chicken recipe that I constantly google search, I did get to try his food. During the last weekend in August ’09, my sister, 2 girlfriends and I had a food-filled weekend in Manhattan. We had a few places on our list to try, and while I had Momofuku in the back of my mind, I didn’t think we’d actually get a table. Low and behold, we gave it a shot and walked over to Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village late that Saturday afternoon for a “snack”. We managed to snack a 4-top at the bar-styled seating. We were tired from walking and shopping, but definitely excited for our surprise snack. Our “snack” consisted of 4 glasses of soju slushies (we tried each flavor available), the fluke appetizer, pork belly steamed buns, and a bowl of ramen. The soju slushies were a refreshing and had good flavor combinations. We all loved the watermelon one though, so it was the first one finished, and is also the only one I can accurately remember. The fluke appetizer was delicious, light and showed the true quality of the fish itself. We liked the little rice puffs that added texture to the otherwise melt-in-your-mouth fluke. I’ll leave the pork belly steamed buns for last and skip onto the ramen. Well, it was good. Maybe it would’ve been great if it were hotter? Either way though, the broth was rich and the noodles were cooked perfectly. It was still a comforting bowl of ramen and while there’s nothing I can say I would add, it didn’t hit me as spectacular. HOWEVER. If we want to talk about spectacular, let’s talk about those pork belly steamed buns. They were heavenly. The buns were steamed perfectly - not chewy, not too soft. The pork belly was like pork butter. You laugh, but I’m serious. It melted like butter and left this delicious pork glaze almost. The cucumbers added a nice crunch, and the scallions added a nice bite. The accompanying sauce wasn’t overpowering and really just accenting the bun as a whole. Personally, when I tasted that pork bun, it was as if I found a new taste bud. As a matter of fact, it really was something like I’d never tasted before. We barely had words to say to each other to explain how much we loved that little appetizer! It was a flavor-epiphany. So, I will say that even though I have only tried the tip of the iceberg of Chang’s offerings, I am now a huge fan.
If we want to talk about spectacular, let’s talk about those pork belly steamed buns.
It was a flavor-epiphany.