I love food. I don’t like to cook but I LOVE to eat. I find pure joy in discovering something decadent, delectable, yummy!
Recently, hubby and I went to NYC for a serious food weekend. My friend Gwen’s brother, Chris, is a sous chef at Momofuku Ssam Bar. It’s a tough reservation to acquire but Gwen’s brother hooked us up; Saturday night at 7:30, primetime! Now I heard about Momofuku from hubby, because he loves cookbooks and the restaurant group recently put out a cookbook. But I also heard about chef David Chang when he was featured on NPR. His interview had me drooling for ramen.
We arrived in the city late Friday night and met up with our friends Dave and Nikki at the Spotted Pig for dinner. Now if you live in NYC, it seems eating at 11:45pm is probably not common place but it’s also not highly unusual either. We sat down at the best seat in the house, a corner banquette beneath the chalkboard menu. Everything read like a page of Saveur. I was choosing between a pasta or pancetta dish. I told the waitress about my dilemma. She talked me through both dishes but I still could not decide so I told her to just surprise me. And boy was I surprised. She brought out the pancetta dish, and unlike hubby who remembers every spectacular meal he’s ever had, I can only say this was one of the most delectable dishes I can’t remember much about, except that it was an explosion of flavors. We also had the BEST deviled eggs ever! (I know, it sounds kind of random but it was midnight and like fried chicken, I’m a connoisseur of deviled eggs. I must try them if they’re on a menu.)
I was already starting to feel this would be one gluttonous gastronomical weekend. Hooray!!
The next day, hubby and I decided we’d walk around a little bit but first check out Momofuku’s other restaurant, the noodle house he was talking about on NPR. I love a big bowl of freshly made noodles. They have a chewy texture and when steeped in steaming broth, it’s pure comfort.
We sat down at the bar, ordered some pickled items and each got a bowl of ramen. It was everything I expected and more. My Momofuku ramen had a wonderful savory broth and was a perfect balance to the al dente noodles. I made small perfect bites in my spoon of broth, noodle, and meat. Hubby ordered the ginger scallion noodle. It was a dry noodle dish that was a medley of textures; the springiness of the noodles, the crisp cucumbers, and the simplicity of the square of roasted seaweed. Hubby and I walked out of there with our belly’s full and wishing every city we lived, there would be a noodle soup just like this one.
We walked and shopped (to burn off calories of course) then we cleaned up to head to Momofuku Ssam Bar. Looking back, I think all of the eating we did prior was just to prepare our stomachs for the extravaganza that was now being presented at our table. We had cured hamachi, a tripe salad, lo mein with ramps and trout roe, a stuffed quail, and fiji apple kimchi. Then there were these the steamed buns, each a delicate, soft mantou filled with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, and scallions which you then topped with a special house-made spicy sauce. It was a perfect blend of flavors, taste and textures. It was about the best thing I’ve ever eaten. At this point we hadn’t even gotten to the star of the evening, the bo ssam, which was an entire shoulder of pork, slow roasted, and came with a side of raw oysters, kimchi, rice and bibb lettuce. The final touch, a drizzle of the special spicy sauce and my mouth was salivating for the next bite.
After dinner we went next door to the milk bar where there was an assortment of unique soft serves like cereal milk and red velvet cake. We all had a sampling but to be honest, we were stuffed.
The next day I woke up still full but still wishing I could have another bite of that pork bun or another slurp of noodles. Lucky for me, Gwen’s brother had suggested we check out his favorite noodle house, Ippudo, before our drive home. I was ready. Again we arrived as it opened and again there was already a line greeting us. We went in and ordered myriad noodles. I got the Akamaru Modern, which was rich and aromatic. Hubby ordered the Shiromaru Hakata Classic, Gwen enjoyed the lighter Tori Ramen and her husband had a noodle dish that I didn’t capture so I don’t remember what it was. (I think he ate it too fast, I’m only half kidding!)
We left there feeling like well fed babies ready for a nap and as we exited we saw the line was three times as long as when we entered. I wanted to tell them it was worth the wait, but I have a feeling most here in New York City know a good thing when they taste it. And they are fortunate enough to be able to just keep coming back for more.