7.035 W T Fuku?


9 (Tue) February 2016

Momofuku Ramen


at Momofuku Noodle Bar

-East Village, NY-


Mission to USA + Personal Deviation, Day 4 (see previously 7.034 …Philly Cheesesteak).

In New York.  Here to attend a meeting on NCDs at the United Nations, today to Friday.  Plus to give a guest lecture on global health at TU yesterday.  Flying back Saturday.

Momofuku Noodle Bar — on the website, it claims “to serve delicious American food” — is a ramen shop.  Founded 2003.
Whereas the name means “lucky peach,” and refers ostensibly to Momofuku Ando — the inventor or instant ramen — David Chang writes in the Momofuku cookbook that “The restaurant was, for me, a fuck-you to so many things.”
Packed to capacity at 21:56 on a Tuesday.
Fortunately, I got the last seat in the house, literally the last seat at the end of the bar.

So much has already been written about founder David Chang that I won’t bother.

All that hype had piqued my interest, perhaps the only pop celebrity chef whose food I’d really been looking forward to trying : lauded as sophisticated reinterpretations of simple Asian classics, infused with Western ingredients and techniques, juxtaposed high-low sensibilities — totally my kind of thing.

If not for the upscale aura imbued by the David Chang brand, these prices would seem rather ludicrous — $4 for kimchi?

The food was just okay.  Neither here nor there, as often the case with fusion, though I’d been hoping for some kind of synergistic elevation, as per the hype.  Oh well.

Not surprised that the mainstream public would be so easily impressed by this place, this kind of place — food aside, I did enjoy the vibe — but I am surprised by its sustained popularity.  Maybe it’s an acquired taste.

Still, I remain eager to try other Momofuku menus, like Ssäm Bar.

Brisket Buns (2.0) — the best part was the texture of the meat, which was supremely tender; but oddly briny in flavor, reminiscent of corned beef — or maybe SPAM — further intensified by the pan-searing, too salty for my tastes; overwhelming, given the size of each slab.
Toppings insufficient to provide counterbalance, squishy buns and mayo adding to the heaviness.
Kimchi (1.5) — sweet and sharp, not necessarily in a good way, otherwise somewhat flat, similar to kimuchi (see for example 5.145 Scallop Okonomiyaki); while avoiding comparison to the real thing, this was simply meh in and of itself.
Momofuku Ramen (2.5) — richly flavored broth, though a tad too smoky from the bacon used in boiling the stock, yet light and crisp in texture; noodles okay; respectable overall but unremarkable.

Upon return to the hotel, I was hungry again in a few hours, not physically hungry, but hungry to experience more of the city’s culinary offerings, especially the no-frills stuff to be found around every corner.

Pazzo Pizza is a pizza joint. Located on 2nd Avenue (corner of 41st Street) (couple blocks from the hotel).  Open till 0400.
Midnight snacks!

I may have gained some weight over the past few days.

Mushroom (2.25) + Buffalo Chicken (2.5) — dry, but okay; nowhere near as good as Koronet (see generally 7.033 Forty-Six Fifty).

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