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Momofuku Noodle Bar (2004–2009)


Bond Girl
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I went to Momofuku for the second time the other night...finally tried the famous pork buns. Oddly enough, I also found them a little too sweet, and I'm a man who loves his hoisin (I almost sought counceling for a general tso's habit). I also found the sauce that accompanied the roasted rice cakes to be a bit too sweet after for my tastes. The braised pork belly with apples and pickeled mustard seeds was flat out wonderful, however, and I'm thinking of returning very soon to have it again.

Nothing to see here.

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I think the pork buns are perfect as is. (Pls Momo, if you are reading this, don't change a fregin thing!) The marinated cucumbers (rice vinegar) offset the sweetness of the hoysin and saltiness of the pork perfectly providing for a refreshing, tangy finish. I could make a meal of these, no problemo. Also enjoyed the spicy tripe app, perfect texture, very tender. Loved the Ssam burrito like wrap w/pork, rice, edamame, onions, pickled shitake, kimichi (served only at lunch). Some might say this is too sweet as well but again the veggies, pickled and not provide for a perfect balance. -So good and a meal in itself

That wasn't chicken

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I agree. This is not a serious ramen place (then again, maybe it was never intended to be a serious ramen place, but rather an EV pan-asian noodle bar. . .).
I ventured out to this place last week in search of a better bowl of ramen.  I ordered a shredded Berkshire pork ramen.  The soup was surprisingly bland, ramen is actually soba and surrounded with pulled pork or pernil.  The pork buns I ordered were overflowed with hoisin sauce.  The sweetness of the hoisin just overpowered the delicacy of "Berkshire".

Yes, the place is trendy and clean but I could have gone to other ramen joints (Rai Rai Ken, Minca and Men Kui Tei) around the EV hood and not buying into the hype.

I prefer Republic on Union Square for Pan Asian noodle.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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I prefer Republic on Union Square for Pan Asian noodle.

I think Republic's ingredients are of lower quality than Momofuku; the broths reminded me of instant soup as did the noodles, although the menu is much larger.

Momofuku is a little overrated but I do enjoy the quality and freshness of what they use (especially the pork and vegetables), even if the broth flavors need a little oomph/they're a little on the bland side, or yes, too sweet sometimes.

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I'm so bummed by the all the publicity this place has gotten lately -- this was a great local staple for us -- now it's totally backed up out the door all day on weekends. Weird hours -- 4 pm -- jam-packed. I really love a lot of the food here, and the way it is served with a (knowingly) almost throwaway vibe (I guess a reflection of its downtowny hipness). I hope gaf is right about the crowds leveling out. Last time it seemed to me that MF can't possibly continue in its present skinny, casual incarnation -- they are being pushed to change and amplify.

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  • 4 weeks later...
I'm so bummed by the all the publicity this place has gotten lately -- this was a great local staple for us -- now it's totally backed up out the door all day on weekends.  Weird hours -- 4 pm -- jam-packed.  I really love a lot of the food here, and the way it is served with a (knowingly) almost throwaway vibe (I guess a reflection of its downtowny hipness).  I hope gaf is right about the crowds leveling out.  Last time it seemed to me that MF can't possibly continue in its present skinny, casual incarnation -- they are being pushed to change and amplify.

Change and amplify they will - In the New York Times (2/15/2006), Dining Section - "Off the Menu" , Florence Fabricant writes:

"FUTURE OPENINGS

MORE MOMOFUKU David Chang and Joaquin Baca, the owners of Momofuku, the popular noodle bar in the East Village, have signed a lease for a new spot, Momofuku Ssam Bar, at 207 Second Avenue (13th Street). They plan to serve mainly ssam, Korean-style wraps (Asian burritos), with 40 seats and an emphasis on fast service and takeout. "

Does anyone have any idea when this place will open? I'm really excited - Momofuku is one of my favorite spots and I can't wait to see (and taste) what the owners come up with next.

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while i'm glad they're doing well, and they've been packed every time I've been there in the past few months, they haven't handled the influx of people very well.. the service has been so uneven as to be ridiculous.. there's one waitress, who offers such atrocious service that she should be ashamed of herself.. it feels like the remainder of the wait staff understand that she sucks and have made accomodations for it, but her attitude and lack of professionalism left a bad taste in my mouth last night.. i can understand that she forgot to put our order in, it was crowded, and the chef did make up for it, apologizing profusely over the counter and providing rounds of drinks at no charge, but her complete avoidance of us for the remainder of the evening, even as she assisted the couple next to us at the counter, really turned me off.. then last night she copped an attitude when she fucked up and forgot to enter the pork buns as an appetizer, and not an afterthought to the main course, and of course, refused to come near us the remainder of the night making the waitress from another section take care of us garnered her a subpar 10% tip..

<modified to redact identiying description of waitress>

Edited by juuceman (log)
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then last night she copped an attitude when she fucked up and forgot to enter the pork buns as an appetizer, and not an afterthought to the main course, and of course, refused to come near us the remainder of the night making the waitress from another section take care of us garnered her a subpar 10% tip..

um...

did you consider that maybe the chef or manager purposely re-assigned the table to the second waitress as an act of damage control? it happens all of the time.

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Complaints about about service are understandable, but I think you may have gone a little too far by identifying her like that.

understood, and modified accordingly..

um...

did you consider that maybe the chef or manager purposely re-assigned the table to the second waitress as an act of damage control? it happens all of the time.

not the case here, the chef ignored the entire situation last night, as we were sitting right in front of him and he didn't say a word.. the setting was pretty far from confrontational, it was more of a dismissal and was handled pretty poorly overall..

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I ventured out to this place last week in search of a better bowl of ramen.  I ordered a shredded Berkshire pork ramen.  The soup was surprisingly bland, ramen is actually soba and surrounded with pulled pork or pernil.  The pork buns I ordered were overflowed with hoisin sauce.  The sweetness of the hoisin just overpowered the delicacy of "Berkshire".

Yes, the place is trendy and clean but I could have gone to other ramen joints (Rai Rai Ken, Minca and Men Kui Tei) around the EV hood and not buying into the hype.

That's what I'm thinking, I go to the East Village rarely and based on what I've read here, it seems like those who know, when it comes to Japanese food, know that this place isn't worth the fuss. If Ramen/Japanese food is not their speciality, then why are they copping the Japanese name and menu? Maybe it's Chang's reappropriation of what is, after all, a Chinese food?

Especially when there are much better places like Menkuitei, Rokumeisha, Saburi, Menchankotei... I heard there is even a US branch of a popular Japanese ramen chain out by the Yaohan Mart, anyone been there?

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I ventured out to this place last week in search of a better bowl of ramen.  I ordered a shredded Berkshire pork ramen.  The soup was surprisingly bland, ramen is actually soba and surrounded with pulled pork or pernil.  The pork buns I ordered were overflowed with hoisin sauce.  The sweetness of the hoisin just overpowered the delicacy of "Berkshire".

Yes, the place is trendy and clean but I could have gone to other ramen joints (Rai Rai Ken, Minca and Men Kui Tei) around the EV hood and not buying into the hype.

That's what I'm thinking, I go to the East Village rarely and based on what I've read here, it seems like those who know, when it comes to Japanese food, know that this place isn't worth the fuss. If Ramen/Japanese food is not their speciality, then why are they copping the Japanese name and menu? Maybe it's Chang's reappropriation of what is, after all, a Chinese food?

Especially when there are much better places like Menkuitei, Rokumeisha, Saburi, Menchankotei... I heard there is even a US branch of a popular Japanese ramen chain out by the Yaohan Mart, anyone been there?

I just think Momofuku is a "fusionized" noodle joint.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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for me the best restaurant to open in nyc last year

great ingredients and very tasty

pigeonholing the type of cuisine is kind of useless, especially considering the heritage and training of the chef

french japanese korean chinese is not a gimmick if it is an honest product

the food uses better ingredients and prepares them better than most of the highly regarded nyc three star restaurants

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Complaints about about service are understandable, but I think you may have gone a little too far by identifying her like that.

understood, and modified accordingly..

um...

did you consider that maybe the chef or manager purposely re-assigned the table to the second waitress as an act of damage control? it happens all of the time.

not the case here, the chef ignored the entire situation last night, as we were sitting right in front of him and he didn't say a word.. the setting was pretty far from confrontational, it was more of a dismissal and was handled pretty poorly overall..

Hmmm... I've been really enjoying Momofuku for a while, sometimes I find myself there once a week (atleast) and I've never had an experience like this. In fact, I've always found the wait staff to be extremely friendly and the chefs to be very responsive anytime I've asked a question about a dish or an ingredient. I've never had to wait long for a dish either... They have been extremely busy though - jammed, as many here have noted. That's why I'm glad to see that they are opening a new place. I just read somewhere else (I can't remember where) that the new place will open in the summer and will serve the buns and dumplings in addition to other dishes. I hope that spreads the crowd a little thinner.

I do enjoy the food here, but the additional draw is the open kitchen. I love to see the food being cooked up and assembled. It helps to demystify the process and I even feel inclined to try (or atleast entertain the idea) of recreating the dishes in my own kitchen at home. It's also very interesting in general to watch people very intent and immersed in their own creative work. But, I'm a little concerned that maybe I've developed some important feelings for the shitake buns with hot sauce on the side. Hoisen and hot sauce combo - yum. wow. It's "happy" food.

-spaetzle

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for me the best restaurant to open in nyc last year

great ingredients and very tasty

pigeonholing the type of cuisine is kind of useless, especially considering the heritage and training of the chef

french japanese korean chinese is not a gimmick if it is an honest product

the food uses better ingredients and prepares them better than most of the highly regarded nyc three star restaurants

french japanese korean chinese is not a gimmick if it is an honest product

It's called confused.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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french japanese korean chinese is not a gimmick if it is an honest product

It's called confused.

AzianBrewer,

Implying that Momofuku's food is somehow confused just because it's influenced by various Asian cuisines is absurd. By this logic, you must discount 80 percent of New York's best restaurants, not to mention the last thousand years of cooking around the world. Don't forget that Japanese ramen is already a product of fusion and that Thai food existed long before chiles arrived from the New World via Portugal.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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french japanese korean chinese is not a gimmick if it is an honest product

It's called confused.

AzianBrewer,

Implying that Momofuku's food is somehow confused just because it's influenced by various Asian cuisines is absurd. By this logic, you must discount 80 percent of New York's best restaurants, not to mention the last thousand years of cooking around the world. Don't forget that Japanese ramen is already a product of fusion and that Thai food existed long before chiles arrived from the New World via Portugal.

Relax jogoode...This is just one person's opinion. I am not knocking fusion cuisines (only if it is done right). All foods are fusion from a historical perspective. Yes, ramen was oringinally intro to Japan perhaps from China. The chasiu are not the Chinese charshu but they have perfected the art of ramen. The Japanese ramen are yellow not white as they served in Momofuku. By the way, 80% of NYC's best restaurants are fusion? Is this a fact or just one person's estimate?

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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Relax jogoode...This is just one person's opinion.  I am not knocking fusion cuisines (only if it is done right).  All foods are fusion from a historical perspective.  Yes, ramen was oringinally intro to Japan perhaps from China.  The chasiu are not the Chinese charshu but they have perfected the art of ramen.  The Japanese ramen are yellow not white as they served in Momofuku.  By the way, 80% of NYC's best restaurants are fusion?  Is this a fact or just one person's estimate?

I'm quite relaxed, but don't appreciate your casual dismissal of akwa's thoughtful post. Nevertheless if you think that Momofuku's food does not work, I'd love to hear specifically why you think so.

P.S. And yes, I do think one could make the argument that the food at most of New York's top restaurants represents fusion. But the authenticity debate has been done to death elsewhere and certainly doesn't belong in this thread.

Edited by jogoode (log)

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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But the authenticity debate has been done to death elsewhere and certainly doesn't belong in this thread.

I second that. That goes for the "molecular" gastronomy debate as well. I group food into two categories: food I like, and food I don't like. I wish more people would do the same and stop worrying about labels and provenance.

Nothing to see here.

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Relax jogoode...This is just one person's opinion.  I am not knocking fusion cuisines (only if it is done right).  All foods are fusion from a historical perspective.  Yes, ramen was oringinally intro to Japan perhaps from China.  The chasiu are not the Chinese charshu but they have perfected the art of ramen.  The Japanese ramen are yellow not white as they served in Momofuku.  By the way, 80% of NYC's best restaurants are fusion?  Is this a fact or just one person's estimate?

I'm quite relaxed, but don't appreciate your casual dismissal of akwa's thoughtful post. Nevertheless if you think that Momofuku's food does not work, I'd love to hear specifically why you think so.

P.S. And yes, I do think one could make the argument that the food at most of New York's top restaurants represents fusion. But the authenticity debate has been done to death elsewhere and certainly doesn't belong in this thread.

This is an open forum and you don't have to appreciate everyone's opinion as long it is not a personal attack. And as for why MF's food doesn't work (for me)....simple, bland soup, shredded pork with very little flavor and the over used of hoisin in pork bun. I can find noodle shops in C-Town, K-Town and ramen shops around the EV area better than this place. There's a time when simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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I've probably gone to momofuku about 7 or 8 times and really think they do a great job and often stuff myself on pork buns and stella before the ramen even arrives. I do have to say that I've been very put off by how the chef treats his staff and have seen his poor behavior on at least three occasions, inapropriate for an open or closed kitchen. There is a big difference between teaching a new cook proper kitchen etiquette and tearing him/her up just because you get off on being mean. Last week I was there with my significantly always hungry other who was just dying for some Brussels Sprouts which we ordered and then watched the terrified young cook burn the bejeasus out of them. I'm talking charcoal people, ever see the microwave seen in 'Time Bandits'?. The sous chef guy was getting a stern talking to from the chef guy who had just walked in looking like he was going to kill someone, again, and wasn't there to supervise. I just knew the Brussles Sprouts were for us, we glanced at each other when they were set in front of us and then looked at the cook who refused to make eye contact but couldn't help glancing at the sprouts as we pushed them further and further towards his side of the counter. We thought about passing him a note or wispering to him or something 'dude, get rid of these before chef angry face comes back' knowing that he would be berated directly in front of us if we drew to much attention. We joked about it for a while as they sat there and cooled. Alas, through all of the sideways glances our black eyed Brussels Sprouts received (from sous chef too) no one said anything but our waitress "would you like to um..keep those or something?" we politely declined.

I really like the place but think those guys are terrified back there, I've never seen the chef even acknowledge that there are even customers present. They have this great thing going that would only be greater if they could put some personality into the kitchen, have some fun once in a while. Not be terrified to fix their mistakes. Its a noodle bar, not Atelier.

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This is an open forum and you don't have to appreciate everyone's opinion as long it is not a personal attack.  And as for why MF's food doesn't work (for me)....simple, bland soup,  shredded pork with very little flavor and the over used of hoisin in pork bun.  I can find noodle shops in C-Town, K-Town and ramen shops around the EV area better than this place.  There's a time when simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Now that's what I'm talking about. I've only been to Momofuku a few times, and have had great noodle soup there as well as merely pleasant noodle soup. Same goes for the apps. Momofuku is not flawless and I do think the unequivocal high regard for it--in the media, at least, not necessarily here--is due to its being more high-end than places like Minca and Rai Rai Ken. Just as plenty of people would sooner go to the inferior Dumpling Man than to the superior Dumpling House, because the latter looks shabby, plenty go to Momofuku because it allows them to stay in their comfort zone. This is not necessarily a bad thing; neither is Momofuku's use of objectively better meat. It's just a very different restaurant than the other noodle shops.

Edited by jogoode (log)

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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  • 1 month later...
ummmmmmm i love momofuku.

its just too damb packed!

so i shouldn't even think about trying to wedge in on a weekend?

u.e.

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