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Momofuku Noodle Bar (2004–2009)


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  • 3 weeks later...

So is the menu still abbreviated? And, if so, has anybody heard a convincing explanation for the change?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Lunch today at NB, and the menu is sorta back again. What's really cool is that they've put up a big, 3-part oyster bar style menu over the seating to the left as you walk in, and in the back to the right. So it's now a noodle bar AND oyster bar, I guess :smile: .

First immediately noticeable change to the menu is that they're offering both Kimchi ($4) and Pickles ($8), served in jars...and perhaps a harbinger of some retail items to come? Also, 7-spice potato chips and a soy sauce egg are offered in the "Snacks" section of the menu - I seem to recall chips somewhere in the past, maybe as an accompaniment to some main.

The "Raw Bar" today was 2 preps of 2 different oysters, hamachi and chilled Mayan Prawns (which are superb and come with a delish sauce gribiche).

The "Market" section of the menu had various preps of skate wing, mussels, steak, pork belly ramen, and Bibim Goosku, which probably belongs in the "Noodle Bar Etc." section, otherwise consisting of buns, wings, ramens and kimchee stew. Along with a special of a poached half lobster and the ice cream, we're back to having a nice offering of choices...along with some 20 beers.

Food was uniformly excellent, and I even commented to chef that I thought the broth in our Momo Ramen was as good as I'd ever had it - rich, balanced, and not too crazy salty.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm greatly relieved to hear about this favorable turn of events.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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So is the menu still abbreviated? And, if so, has anybody heard a convincing explanation for the change?

I heard an explanation second hand. I don't know if it's convincing. (What I mean is, it's obvious that it's dumb; the question is whether it was sincere.)

The explanation is this (or something like it):

There was a decision to rejigger the menu. They thought the best way to train the kitchen was to start with a limited menu and then branch out, rather than throwing the staff in at the deep end.

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So is the menu still abbreviated? And, if so, has anybody heard a convincing explanation for the change?

I heard an explanation second hand. I don't know if it's convincing. (What I mean is, it's obvious that it's dumb; the question is whether it was sincere.)

The explanation is this (or something like it):

There was a decision to rejigger the menu. They thought the best way to train the kitchen was to start with a limited menu and then branch out, rather than throwing the staff in at the deep end.

That's what we also heard via a couple of the kitchen staff on Saturday - I believe it's sincere. Along with the numbers they're doing having an effect on what should be on the menu...like what can they crank out, fairly consistently, that the kitchen can handle.

Here are two of the snacks we had, posted about just above...

gallery_6902_5624_52448.jpg

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Had a late lunch/early dinner at Noodle Bar today. The menu is now written on blackboards so they no longer have to hand out menus. Noticed a new starter of "Soy Sauce Egg". Basically a medium/hard boiled egg topped that seemed lightly infused with soy sauce and topped with chives and I think crispy garlic bits.

The dish was a let down because the egg was served ice cold. Like it almost hurt your teeth to bite into it because it was so cold. At room temperature I think the flavors would have been more pronounced and enjoyable but as it was it just tasted like cold egg.

Kimchee stew was as incredible as ever.

Also noticed they're now serving a skate dish with brussel sprouts which I could have sworn I had as Ssam Bar about two months ago.

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So is the menu still abbreviated? And, if so, has anybody heard a convincing explanation for the change?

I heard an explanation second hand. I don't know if it's convincing. (What I mean is, it's obvious that it's dumb; the question is whether it was sincere.)

The explanation is this (or something like it):

There was a decision to rejigger the menu. They thought the best way to train the kitchen was to start with a limited menu and then branch out, rather than throwing the staff in at the deep end.

That's consistent with what I noticed while there during the limited menu phase. Sat at the bar and the guy in front of me who was handling the bulk of the orders was definitely new and getting trained, and the bun guy seemed to be in the same boat. The chef in charge at the time occasionally jumped in front of the trainee when he was in the weeds, but otherwise just talked him through.

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There's an odd post on Eater:

Fergus Henderson Takes NY

Wednesday, October 15, 2008, by BL

Dave Chang writes in with this crucial update to Furgus Henderson's New York itinary: "Fergus Henderson has added another date to his New York tour. After his show at the Spotted Pig, Fergus will be cooking dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar, Monday, November 3rd. No reservations."

If that's true I imagine it will be a madhouse. :huh:

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There's an odd post on Eater:

Fergus Henderson Takes NY

Wednesday, October 15, 2008, by BL

Dave Chang writes in with this crucial update to Furgus Henderson's New York itinary: "Fergus Henderson has added another date to his New York tour. After his show at the Spotted Pig, Fergus will be cooking dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar, Monday, November 3rd. No reservations."

If that's true I imagine it will be a madhouse. :huh:

Yeah, I was just about to post about that as well. Anyone have any idea what might be the best strategy to try to get in for that? Sounds like something I might want to try.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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Eater.com seems to be right on top of this whole thing we call Noodle Bar, to whit:

You didn't think the day was going to pass sans ChangWire, did you? Nopeski. At Momofuku Noodle Bar, the walls are now adorned with chalkboard menus. According to people who know people, the plan is to separate the Noodle Bar menu in at least two, the casual fare of the current menu thrown alongside a changing prix fixe of sorts. These new boards, installed in the last week or two, have something to do with the plan, apparently. No word of timing on the debut of the new menu yet.

Needless to say, I posted about the chalkboards a few weeks ago. And maybe the prix fixe they're talking about is the one at Ssam Bar, also posted by me a couple of weeks ago. It's sad not to always be first, especially when you're breathlessly trying to be, but at least you have to give 'em credit for the appearance of being first.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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More importantly, what happened to the half/whole chicken? Is it coming back? If not, can it be ordered for special occasions? I miss it so much, I kind of want to cry...

They had a pig tail special this weekend that was incredible, though.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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More importantly, what happened to the half/whole chicken?  Is it coming back?  If not, can it be ordered for special occasions?  I miss it so much, I kind of want to cry...

They had a pig tail special this weekend that was incredible, though.

Good question - that and the sweetbreads and the shrimp and grits are what I'm missing the most.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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More importantly, what happened to the half/whole chicken?  Is it coming back?  If not, can it be ordered for special occasions?  I miss it so much, I kind of want to cry...

They had a pig tail special this weekend that was incredible, though.

Good question - that and the sweetbreads and the shrimp and grits are what I'm missing the most.

bummer about the sweetbreads. the fried morsels were up there with babbo and prune's versions. hope it regularly appears on the chalkboard or ssam picks it up.

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Reporting back from dinner tonight featuring Fergus Henderson as guest chef. I got in line at about 4:45 and was probably in the first 10-15 people or so. Various individuals in line, myself included, were joined by others in their respective parties a the opening hour approached, and by the time doors opened at 5:10 or so there were easily 50 people in line, probably more. Meeting some friends outside shortly past 7 pm, they told us the wait was around two hours.

We ordered the entirety of the menu, minus the $41 deep fried rabbit; we also doubled up on the signature roasted bone marrow with parsley salad. From the normal menu, we threw in a small pot of kimchi, a large pot of pickles, a regular roasted hangar steak, and a few softserve ice creams. There was a good deal of food, but not an excessive amount. I was full by the end, but not entirely stuffed either.

The dinner, on the whole, was quite enjoyable. But I actually feel that the sum of the experience was better than the individual dishes. Chef Henderson's dishes hit what is, for me, a sweet spot in offal-type cooking. While I probably enjoy the haute offal items in fine-dining restaurants and ambitious casual ones like Ssam Bar more, building an entire meal around nose-to-tail comfort food was quite enjoyable. For the same reason, while I find myself finding offal cookery in ethnic cuisines more interesting, this meal occupied its own culinary space.

Nothing on the menu really blew me away. I think the strongest Henderson dish was the deep fried lambs brains with green sauce. This was a seriously tasty bite of food. Many of the other items started to taste similarly, perhaps because, as others have written, Henderson's NYC menus seem to cater to an distinct NYC audience. For those who have been sleeping for the past six or so years, NYC diners worship pork; this menu played right into this trend. In fact, I can't even clearly remember the difference between the confit pig's cheek with dandelions and the warm pig's head with bean salad. Both were fatty, porky, a bit brothy/saucy, very tasty, but apparently not all that memorable.

The menu can be found online, and, in general, most everything tasted as it should. If the marrow bones serve as a barometer for the "authenticity" of the rest of the menu in its NYC debut, the preparation served tonight could have easily been served at St. John.

Perhaps my biggest issue--more misgiving, than a complaint--was that I felt that the portions were rather small given the prices charged. Of course, you're paying for the novelty of eating said items--a full-time restaurant with this menu likely wouldn't survive for very long, I feel--but throwing a few more chunks of protein in each plate or bowl would've helped the meal feel more abundant. With moderate drinking we spent about $95/person for four of us. Not cheap, at all. None of the dishes on the Henderson menu were like the kimchi stew, soulful dishes that help fill the belly. In fact, we ordered the hangar steak after most of our food had come out, fearing that we'd still be hungry.

So all in all, I enjoyed myself. There is value--in the utility, not dollar, sense of the word--in this event. This type of cooking is still lamentably rare in this city. On the whole, I like other presentations of nose-to-tail cookery, but the cuisine of St. John has its place.

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Not to follow up on my own post or anything, but this thought just struck me too. At a previous meal at St. John, I loved the variety of items. A wild game terrine, a breast of bloody squab, salty chitterlings, the rich marrow bones.

This meal lacked that diversity. It was pork and/or fried. Perhaps this is a supplier issue, perhaps it's that catering to NYC tastes. A piece of rare game bird or a cold pate would've been welcome in this meal.

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I got in last night as well, and it was quite fun. I got the just before 5, and just barely made it into the first seating. They actually held me and 5 or so other people back from seating right away, keeping a handful of seats open, just to give the kitchen a smaller initial rush, but I was seated with half my beer left, so not long. I got sat next to another lone diner, and was about to ask if he wanted to share a few things so we could try more items, but he beat me to it, so that was fortuitous. I agree with the previous poster that the plates were smaller than I expected, but I was actually delighted this was the case, since it allowed us to do another round and order even more. We ended up getting everything on the special menu with the exception of the potatoes and the celeric.

Curiously, right from the start they said they didn't have the marrow bones and would let us know when and if they arrived. Luckily they did, and they were awesome. But that wasn't surprising since I've made the recipe from his book and it was also awesome, but I couldn't resist trying the real thing.

My next favorite was the lamb brains. I've had sweetbreads plenty of times, but this was my first opportunity for brains, and they were great. Flavor similar to sweetbreads, but exquisitely creamy, much more so than sweetbreads. It would be hard if I had to declare a favorite of the two.

My third favorite I think was the rabbit. The legs were like really good fried chicken but with a mild gaminess, but the loin was the best part. Perfectly cooked and still soft and pink in the center. That's a fine line to walk and you really need the oil and the uncooked meat at the right temp and the timing right (I assume).

I will echo the last comment's claim of lack of diversity. Not really as a criticism, but I would agree. The fried preps of the rabbit, brains, and pig tails were very similar. The end results were quite distinct because the ingredients are so dissimilar, but I can easily see how it would all look like just a bunch of fried stuff on the table. Also, the snail, trotter, sausage and chickpea dish and the pig head and bean salad, while both good, were perhaps redundant. I liked the flavorful broths with the tatst bites in them, but I didn't get a different sensation from the second one. But I thought the chitterlings, the marrow, and the pigs cheek were their own beasts.

It was the first time I've had both chitterlings pigs feet. The chitterlings were tasty, especially the parts that were quite charred. The parts that hadn't been kissed by the flame as much were ok but I preferred the crispy charred parts to the more slimy parts. As I suspected, the pigs feet were not my thing. They were cooked very well, but I'm not very into things quite that gelatinous, but I enjoyed trying it very much.

All in all, a very fun, especially taking the experience in it's entirety.

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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fergus received an ovation from the diners then sat down at april bloomfield's table. i agree that the portions were miniscule. it sometimes felt like we were picking at scraps. still a great evening filled with unique flavors. here are pics of some of the dishes we had.

3002274167_ca859290c6.jpg

warm pig's head & bean salad (bev eggleston, va)

3002273111_7470118ec9.jpg

confit pig's cheek & dandelion (niman ranch)

3002273069_8ff015a1fc.jpg

grilled chitterlings (niman ranch)

3002273029_26e081b0e1.jpg

and the highlight of our night, deep fried lamb brains & green sauce (jamison farm, pa)

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http://flickr.com/photos/kathryn/sets/7215...3858224/detail/

My party of four and I tried everything on the Henderson menu. Friends arrived at 4:45 and stood in line, we joined them shortly thereafter. Would it be worth a two hour wait to eat this food? Given that some of the items are available at other restaurants around town, probably not, but it was nice to give it all a go at the same time, with Mr. Henderson in the house and David Chang personally cooking marrow bones and dressing parsley salads.

Celeriac & boiled knollcrest egg - eh, felt more like a bar snack, nothing out of the ordinary.

Grilled chitterlings (Niman Ranch) - nicely cooked but I was not a huge fan of the texture, but liked the charred bits. It was nice to try but I think I prefer chitterlings/intestine in Chinese restaurants more.

Deep fried lamb brains & green sauce (Jamison Farm, PA) - great, agreed that it was too small a portion, especially given the generous helping of delicious green sauce. I wished the tidbits were bigger. They were like tiny little brain-y jewels. I contemplated getting more until they started shouting "86 brains!" (A friend arriving later in the evening was devastated that they were already out.)

Deep fried rabbit (Hudson Valley) - three nice big chunks, kind of like an "all dark meat" chicken, very tender and meaty, and ours were falling off the bone. Not very gamey, I thought. Overall, very well executed.

Duck fat & garlic baked potato - simple, hearty, good.

Warm pig’s head and bean salad (Bev Eggleston, VA) - eh, didn't really seem to come together for me, lacked cohesion, couldn't really tell why these particular items were together.

Snail, trotter, sausage & chickpeas (Bev Eggleston, VA) - delicious but could it not be? the snails were soft and tender, as was the trotter, and the chickpeas added a nice textural contrast, I could see making this at home, when I craved a simple but hearty winter stew. I have the recipe bookmarked at home now.

Crispy pig’s tails (Heritage Foods & Bev Eggleston, VA) - messy to eat and a little odd to me as I didn't really dig the texture. Fatty, not as flavorful as I had hoped. I miss the old Noodle Bar pig's tails prep.

Confit of pig's cheek & dandelion (Niman Ranch) - we ordered two of these. The first order had barely any meat, unfortunately. But this was one of the highlights of the meal for me. Tender, meaty, flavorful pig's cheek with bitter dandelion leaves, lightly dressed. I hunted around for specks of leftover confit afterwards. Well done!

Roasted bone marrow & parsley salad - a classic. We ordered two of these. Delicious. I noticed some people were served marrow that was a little pinkish but ours was not so. A plop of marrow, a spinkle of coarse sea salt, a ring of shallot, a single caper, and a few parsley leaves. Heaven. I used the remaining bread to sop up the delicious juices accumulating on my plate.

With three sodas and three soft serve ice creams (fernet and mint, not bacon, as previous rumored on Eater), the bill came out to $60+pp with tax and tip. A lovely but pricey evening, overall. See you next year, Mr. Henderson? (Please stock up more on brains, thanks.)

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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  • 1 month later...

Anyone at noodle bar last night? I went for a late lunch, and apparantly they were going to experiment with a 45$ prix fix menu for dinner that night, so they had a last call for ordering lunch before they shut the kitchen down to transition to dinner. I asked about the menu for dinner but our waitress didn't know what they were planning. We had a typically excellent meal, I'm not at all complaining, just curious if they had a special menu or if it was regular menu stuff.

ps they had a yummy pig trotter terrine special that we enjoyed

Ed aka Wordsmithing Pantagruel

Food, Cocktails, Travels, and miscellany on my blog:

http://www.wordsmithingpantagruel.com/

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  • 1 month later...
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