Thursday, January 02, 2014

New York Eats: Momofuku Ssäm Bar

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 Second Avenue
at 13th Street
New York, NY 10003
I have been thinking for awhile about how to start this post off. There's been plenty of ideas swirling around in my mind and one of which was to talk about the genius that is David Chang. It was however, difficult to summarise how much of a "rock star" Dave Chang is and to explain just how much influence he has in the culinary world. In my opinion, Jamie Oliver has made cooking at home fun but Dave Chang has made food "cool". I admit, I am a fan. That is why, we HAD TO visit at least one Momofuku restaurant before we left the Big Apple.
 Arctic Char Tataki with Peach, Pine Nut and Lovage
A cancelled flight put our plans for a visit to Má Pêche out of the works so we decided to visit Momofuku Ssäm Bar for a long overdue meet up with J and her partner. We missed out on ordering the famous bo ssäm and the whole rotisserie duck since there weren't enough of us (which on hindsight I slightly regret). That however, gave us the opportunity to savour the many other interesting offerings on the menu.
 Steamed Buns with Pork Belly, Hoisin, Cucumbers and Scallions
An obvious choice was the Steamed Buns which have pretty much set off the whole "steamed buns trend". I have tried the buns at Seiōbo a few times and read that they've had difficulties making it here due to the differences in the quality of ingredients. And it certainly doesn't help that the ones served in the US are a tough act to follow. Two succulent pieces of pork belly sandwiched between a soft steamed bun with hoisin sauce and pickled cucumbers was a definite winner in my books.
 Roasted Jurgielewicz Duck with Chickpeas, Kale and Goji Berries
 Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes with Chinese Broccoli and Sichuan Peppercorn
The rest of the dinner was pretty enjoyable as well. I particularly liked the Roasted Duck with its tasty accompaniments and the Spicy Rice Cakes. I've had variations of it at Seiōbo before and this one was tongue numbing and spicy. Yet, it had such good flavour and when enjoyed slowly, was a real (fiery) treat.
 Honeycrisp Apple Kimchi with Maple Labne, Jowl Bacon and Arugula
 Scallops with Avocado, Black Garlic and Red Radish
We were however, slightly let down by the desserts. We ordered the Popcorn Cake immediately upon its introduction by the waitstaff. It was however, slightly heavy, a little too sweet for my liking and lacked the popcorn flavour that was promised in its description. R didn't like the Lemon Meringue Pie either as it had a strong almond flavour which he usually isn't much of a fan of.
 Popcorn Cake with Strawberry Jam and Caramel Corn
 Lemon Meringue Pie with Pistachio and Lemon Curd
Although dinner was slightly hit and miss (actually, more hits than misses), I'd like to think that Ssäm Bar could be a restaurant that I would frequent if I was living in NYC. It just has a cool, relaxed vibe that makes it a great spot to catch up with friends over some good food and drinks. So I might be back again and if there is a next time, I'm bringing more people along with me.