Foodcation: New York City, Momofuku*

27 Jun

*Because it’s such a highly rated restaurant and because I just couldn’t condense this meal into 2 short paragraphs, I’m dedicating an entire post to it.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, 207 2nd Ave., East Village

When you make specific plans to gather 7 people willing to split $250 for a spread of meat and fixings at a restaurant that has been lauded ten times over in numerous “Best of” lists, you must go in with lofty expectations and a completely empty stomach. I curse Momofuku for letting me commit the sin of gluttony. But I wear this badge proudly of having gone to Momofuku and splitting what turned out to be a reasonable bill for a meal that was really f***ing good. I don’t have a very discerning palate and I admittedly haven’t criticized many meals I’ve eaten in the past. But there are very few meals that I’ve eaten that I will remember blissfully and wax poetic about for the rest of my life (i.e. the Kobe beef hot pot at Morimoto, Philadelphia, fall of ’08). The Bo Ssam is one of those meals.

Pork Bun

It’s not part of the Bo Ssam, but just as noteworthy: the pork belly buns were simple in composition but completely succulent. They had thick, juicy cuts of pork belly, its fattiness supported by the sweet hoisin sauce, with thin slices of cucumber for a fresh crunch, and the scallions gave it an extra, subtle bite. The bun itself was thick and fluffy. A dip of siracha gave the entire bun a nice twinge of spice.

Now that is one big (pork) butt

The spread of fixin's

One of my concoctions

When the actual Bo Ssam came out, we felt like a family eating the most unconventional, yet awesomest Thanksgiving meal ever. The pork butt is just as big and food coma-inducing as a turkey, but so much more rich and flavorful (Hey Mom, can we have this for Thanksgiving from now on??). The meat would pull easily off the bones and shred nicely for our little wraps. The skin was a tad tougher but sweeter, therefore just as enjoyable as the meat. The spread came with a dozen lovely oysters, lots of bibb lettuce, rice, sea salt, kimchi and different sauces. We were instructed to take a piece of lettuce, put some rice on it, top that with pork belly, sauce and/or kimchi, an oyster, and some sea salt. It seems like a confusing combination. But it touched on all the tastes – salty, juicy pork; sweet oyster, a bit of sour kimchi, spicy siracha, crunch from the lettuce and rice to absorb it all. I guess all of that together made umami in my mouth. That sounds gross. But it makes sense to use one sinful act to describe another in this case. Because, really, it’s difficult for most restaurants to get much better than that.

Momofuku Milk Bar, next door

Well, if you want to include our dessert with that meal, then I guess you could say it did get better. For someone with an undying love of sweets and baked goods, ending a wonderful meal with something sugary is the next logical step. So we crossed over to the other side of Momofuku into Milk Bar, David Chang’s outpost for desserts.

Patience, young grasshopper...you'll get eaten soon enough

I bought three cookies for the road (compost, chocolate-chocolate, and blueberry and cream) and a grasshopper pie to try on the spot. The pie was rich and fudgy, and I loved the creamy marshmallow baked in. With the mint drizzled throughout, the pie tasted like a Thin Mint S’more (there’s that Thin Mint again). I would’ve bought another for later if it didn’t have to be refrigerated. The compost cookie had great mix of sweet and salty – it has butterscotch and chocolate chips as well as pretzel pieces and potato chips. The chocolate-chocolate was also good, just simply very chocolatey (which may be too much for some, I ate it after a light dinner a few days later to avoid overload). I loved the blueberry and cream; it was a yummy mix of fruity and sweet flavors, and just as rich. My only issue with the cookies was that they were a bit oily; they greased up the baggies they were in. Seeing that amount of oil in a cookie put me off a bit. But I suppose if you’re going to be bad, you might as well be that bad. Just eat lots of veggies, say a few Hail Marys, and forgive yourself later.

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