Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NYC 2

August 10, 2009

On Saturday August 1, 2009, I went to the Momofuku Ssäm Bar for lunch. There was a much bigger crowd than there had been at my lunch a year before, but there were still plenty of places at the counter. This was the view to my right down the counter towards the kitchen at the end of the room.

This was the view of the serving area right across from me.

ssbThe lunch menu is still quite small, but there is now a three course prix-fixe at $25. I decided to order à la carte. I ordered a glass of 2006 Tenbrink Pinot Noir (Suisin Valley) which was eventually followed by a glass of 2007 Copain “Tous Ensemble” (Mendicino.) The second, also a Pinot Noir, is sourced from several vineyards in the Anderson Valley. It seemed more powerful than the Tenbrink from near Sacramento. Both went well with the cuisine. 

My first course was
Grilled Baby Octopus – chorizo, pickled fennel, Piperade oil

The piperade was too heavy and tomatoey. It overwhelmed what could have been a nice interplay of the octopus with the chorizo; the fennel, potato cubes and baby spinach all went well in their different ways.

My second course was
Bev Eggleston’s Pork Shoulder Steak – zucchini, ramp dressing

The flavorful slices of pork were hot off the grill and had a surprising temperature contrast with the cold buttermilk dressing with chopped ramps. On top were slices of pickled papaya and onions with some yellow squash. A good unusual combination of flavors and textures with nothing dominating the others.
 

For dessert I had
Thai Iced Tea Parfait.

There was no dessert menu, but we could pick one of the two choices from the prix fixe. On the left is an ice tea mousse; on the right is a lemony mascarpone. They are divided by a nut crumble. Nice. Actally they suggested that I go for dessert to the new Momofuku Milk Bar next door. I did stop in after leaving. There were a wide variety of pastries. Here is a photo:
 

My lunch was not as interesting as I thought it would be. I should have just ordered the prix fixe with the buns and rice cakes or brisket.

 

The following Friday, August 7, 2009, I went to the Union Square Green Market and so went back to the Momofuku Ssäm Bar for lunch. I ordered the Prix Fixe and a glass of 2007 Autugnac (Haute Vallée de l’Aude) Pinot Noir. It was robust and stood up to the cuisine.

steamed pork buns – hoisin, cucumbers, scallions
mmn
The buns are steamed and have a mild flavor. The pork belly has been braised and sliced. It is dressed with a lot of little scallion slices, some pickled cucumber slices and hoisin sauce. A squeeze bottle of spicy barbeque sauce is served alongside. I put a dab on the right before taking the photo, but there is plenty of good flavor without it.

spicy rice cakes – pork sausage, chinese broccoli, crispy shallots

This was quite spicy. You can see a little red Szechuan pepper in the upper left. I fished out six of those, but they had already left behind much of their heat. The little cylindrical rice cakes were very crunchy and did taste of roasted rice. I finished this, but it really should have been a smaller portion. In one way it got boring, but it was so seductive I wasn’t going to leave any.

ice cream pie sweet corn cereal milk, tristar strawberries

The staff behind the counter told me this was “corn cookie crust ice cream” with a Graham cracker crust. The texture was like a cheesecake.

I enjoyed the meal. It was a real bargain at $46 including wine, tax and tip. The restaurant was almost empty when I arrived at 12:20; it was half full when I left at 1:00. I guess that Fridays are quieter than Saturdays.

To see my post from a year ago click here.

http://www.momofuku.com/ssam

One Response to “Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NYC 2”

  1. George Says:

    Michael, this place sounds (and looks) intriguing and one I think I would really enjoy. Everything looked and sounded appealing and the beef tendon would have been a special treat for me. It used to be on the menu of a few Chinese restaurants but it disappeared. Not surprising. Every time I ordered, the waiter would ask me if I knew what it was. Even in Hong Kong the locals would have to take me to a tiny place in Kowloon with not one gwai lo in sight to get it.

    I also loved the spicy dishes that one represented. There are two problems, though. First, not enough Zantec in the world to compensate. And second, once you eat it your tongue goes numb and you can’t taste anything for hours afterward.

    But thanks for the memories, George


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