Sunday, June 20, 2010

Momofuku Ssäm Bar (7/10) - 207 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10003

Su-Th: 11:30a-3:30p, 5p-12p
F-Sa: 11:30a-3:30p, 5p-2a
(p) 212.254.3500

When I first moved to Manhattan a few weeks back, a friend and self-proclaimed food connoisseur demanded that I head to the East Village with him to try Momofuku's pork steamed buns.  This tasty morsel has basically every attribute that I could dream of in a hand-held pork package.  To summarize: the steamed buns were light and delicate, the pork belly was fatty and delicious (and was gelatinous enough to be spread on toast), it was topped with green onions and pickled cucumbers, and customers are provided sriracha to spice it up (yes please).   I seriously considered eating nothing but steamed buns  but decided the overkill might risk ruining a great thing in the city.  The rest of the dishes we shared were done well but nothing highlighted the buns.  When another friend recently invited me to return to Momofuku to partake in its bo ssäm, I immediately committed without hesitation.

The step by step process of the bo ssäm goes as follows:

remove a leaf and coat with rice

select an oyster

position the oyster on top of the rice

pull a substantial tong-full of pork from your table's personal smoked shoulder

add pork to the lettuce wrap

top with your choice from an assortment of sauces and kimchis

There was supposedly 10 of us lined up to share the shoulder, but after a few cancellations, the group was narrowed down to 6 (including the "host's" vegetarian girlfriend).  I approximated that we probably had somewhere between 1lb - 1.5lbs of pork per person.  I was quite surprised to be instructed to add an oyster to the wrap but it provided a nice consistency and flavor I was happy to taste.  The pork lacked any natural smoke flavor, but the sugar and kosher salt rub provided a good flavor complex to complement the sauces, rice and oyster in the wrap.  Once I took my first bite, there was no slowing me down until I was physically and emotionally incapacitated (I believe I stopped counting after my 7th wrap).

Although the food was difficult to compare against more traditional barbecue meals I've had on my sabbatical, it was still definitely an enjoyable, delicious and memorable experience.  I would just suggest going with a group larger than 5 so you don't overeat at one sitting and definitely starting with a few orders of pork steamed buns -- they are a must.  And if you depart as full as I was, I suggest not walking by the monstrosity of a pile of pork belly behind the counter at the restaurant's adjourning Milk Bar as it may make you ill. 

 Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.