After the session with David Chang at the Gourmet Institute I was even more eager to try dining at one of his Momofuku restaurants.
Though Chang has written that he believes we are moving towards a less future with less cheap industrial meat, he is firmly in the carnivore camp. Be forewarned, at Momofuku Ssam Bar, the menu says, "We do not serve vegetarian friendly items," and they're not kidding. It is a very meaty menu. It's also a menu full of surprises.
I was a bit taken aback to see a list of four different root beers on the menu. I was even more amazed to discover how wonderfully well root beer pairs with the spicy, lusty flavors of his food.
What did I eat at Momofuku Ssam Bar? The famous steam buns with pork belly hoisin, cucumber and scallions, of course. They melt in your mouth and might possibly be a candidate for my next round of the parlor game "name your last meal."
A perfectly tender charred chili spiced calamari salad with ginger, scallions, crunchy radishes and bits of feathery mizuna. You may have had calamari salad before, but you've never had it like this. It was an addictive combination of textures and tastes, not too spicy but juicy and bursting with flavor.
The least Asian influenced of all the dishes we tried, was several different cuts of Long Island duck with djion spaetzle, brussels sprouts and Five Spoke cheddar. Sharp and creamy spaetzle and bitter sprouts balanced the richness of the expertly prepared duck.
A refreshing house cured hamachi with edamame, horseradish, pea leaves was our last dish, save for a nibble of Satur Farm's crispy fried brussels sprouts with mint, scallions, and a fish sauce vinaigrette thanks to Anil of Six Apart and Alaina of Serious Eatswho coincidentally happened to be dining right next to me at the long central communal table/bar. Beware the food blogger sitting next to you! Your food is not safe from my fork!
I really can't say enough good things about the food at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The biggest problem is wanting to order everything on the menu. As it was I missed out on a whole section of offal that included crispy pig's head torchon, Sichuan beef tendon with mango and peanuts and blood sausage with seckel pears, lime pickle and frisee. More to try next time I suppose...