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Momofuku Ssäm Bar (2006–2007)


Bond Girl
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New(ish) on the menu:

Four Story Hill Chicken Ballontine (PA) - leeks, nori, mizuna

Spicy Squid Salad - celery, sichuan pepper, chili

Satur Farms Wax Bean Salad - asparagus vinaigrette, seaweed

Migliorelli's Sugar Snap Peas - country ham broth, onions

Old Bay Pan-Fried Skate - roasted fingerlings, pickled ramps, spicy aioli

Sichuan Spiced Crawfish - shallots, chilies, mustard greens

Grilled Whole Brook Trout - pickled cherries, almonds

Steamed Manila Clams, Spring Garlic & Rice Cakes - bacon dashi, chinese sausage

Grilled Lamb Belly (Four Story Hill Farm, PA) - mt. sweet berry farm's baby swiss chard

Pork Spare Ribs (Newman's Farm, MO) - tomatillos, sunchokes, mustard seeds

Bruni also discusses the Bo Ssam in an article about the resurgence of delicious, fatty, and often porky dishes across NYC:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/13/dining/13glut.html

Edited by kathryn (log)
"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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  • 2 weeks later...

The new scallop preparation -- Maine diver scallops sliced thin, with dried seaweed sprinkled on top, with a salad of pickled Washington State cherries and lettuce, and a pool of creamy sweet-tart lemon puree -- is outstanding. One of the better dishes in the history of Momo-Ssam, and a great way to start off the meal.

There's a new country ham -- "Burgers' Smokehouse Ozark Country Cured Ham," from California, Missouri -- that, while delicious, just isn't as good as the Benton's. There's basically no reason ever to depart from the Benton's, which I think competes with the world's best pork products. I love the mustardy "gravy" they serve with the country hams, but the two small pieces of bread are out of proportion to the big plate of ham -- they should give about six slices.

The fried baby artichokes are almost as good as the Brussels sprouts were, but not quite. Although, this is a more elegant dish, plated in a coherent manner (as opposed to the undifferentiated bowl of Brussels sprouts) in a pool of walnut puree with a couple of anchovies draped over the row of fried artichokes (from Satur Farms).

Sugar snap peas in "country ham broth" -- actually more like bits of country ham in a reduced stock -- are a good share item. I wouldn't suggest eating a portion of them alone, but everybody should have a handful of them.

I'm still not entirely sold on lamb belly. The Momo-Ssam rendition is quite a bit better than the one at Degustation. At Degustation it was like eating a piece of lamb fat, whereas the Momo-Ssam version has more meat to it, and the Swiss chard and radishes provide nice contrasts of bitter and crunchy. Still, I think unless you like lamb belly this dish isn't going to convert you. I wonder if the lamb belly trend will last. Pork belly is a lot better.

There's a new dessert: "Tristar Strawberry Shortcake." I've read about the Tristar strawberries but this was my first time knowingly tasting them. Highly concentrated, small strawberries, served over a small round of plain shortcake with a healthy dose of whipped cream. Good, but I think they should probably just give up on dessert unless they're going to have a serious dessert program.

The new midnight closing time is apparently a staffing issue -- the kitchen crew was burning out from the 2am close, which makes for a very long, intense shift when you include prep starting mid-afternoon. It's not quite enough hours to justify splitting into two shifts, though, so they just shortened the shift a little.

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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I'm still not entirely sold on lamb belly. The Momo-Ssam rendition is quite a bit better than the one at Degustation. At Degustation it was like eating a piece of lamb fat, whereas the Momo-Ssam version has more meat to it, and the Swiss chard and radishes provide nice contrasts of bitter and crunchy. Still, I think unless you like lamb belly this dish isn't going to convert you. I wonder if the lamb belly trend will last. Pork belly is a lot better.

I really love lamb belly, but unfortunaetly neither place has it right yet....It really should have all the attributes of pork belly but the flavor of lamb. Both place are ending up with a sort of bouncy rubbery texture....

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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The new scallops are indeed outstanding. I like the old scallops too - it's hard to say which one I prefer. I loved the scallion oil and pineapple from the old rendition, but the pickled cherries from the new version fall into the miso butter/crack addiction category.

I really enjoyed the strawberry shortcake and I highly recommend it. The strawberries are wonderful and I'm a total sucker for fresh whipped cream. I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the menu buried amongst the other "local" items. As far as dessert goes, I'd rather have one or two options than none at all. I interpreted the presence of the strawberry shortcake as "Hey, we got some outstanding strawberries, let's use them and make people happy." I'm alright with the lack of commitment to dessert - but I do appreciate the effort when some good ingredients are sourced. On the other hand, who knows, maybe we are seeing the beginnings of a more formal dessert program.

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I think I'd have rather had just strawberries and cream. That to me would have been appropriate minimalism in keeping with the Momofuku aesthetic: always have some amazing fruit on the menu with minimal garnish to act as a sweet ending for those who want it. But once they add cake, my comparative faculties kick in -- and in my opinion that cake doesn't stack up favorably against what serious pastry chefs are doing today.

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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I stopped in on Friday and had:

1. the scallops. superb. this was in the same league as (if just shy of) the scallop with rock salt at Yasuda. served raw with salted lettuce and plum.

2. sugar snap peas in ham broth. pretty good. excellent ingredients.

3. Sichuan squid salad. terrific. they weren't afraid to let it have some heat either.

4. pig's head. I'm not an offal-head. this was pretty good...I think I was a little bored with it (and full) by the end of the dish.

and then for dessert I had the pork buns. I don't know why anyone would ever order anything sweet when you can have pork buns.

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FG -- that's the coffee red-eye gravy, yes?

I really wanted to like the sugar snap peas more than I did. The ham was excellent, but I found the peas to be tasty but kind of stringy. Perhaps some rushed prep? I had to keep removing bits I found to be unchewable.

We ordered the scallops last night and didn't realize that they'd never brought them over until we were done eating. We ordered:

1/2 dozen oysters -- I realized that I like the larger, brinier variety better

Scallops (which never came) -- :(

Steamed buns -- fatty, as usual

Banh mi -- slightly less spicy than usual, but they had a very generous hand with the head cheese last night

Fried baby artichokes -- there's so much sauce on the plate that I wish there were more artichokes to scoop it up with

Benton's ham (and they brought over the new ham for a taste -- it was less salty, a little more delicate, but not quite as good as the Benton's)

Pig's head -- eh. Deep-fried sticks with a tangy mustard, in a lettuce wrap form. It was alright. I think the deep-fried battered coating actually got in the way, but I liked the mustard a lot.

Pork spareribs -- delicious, falling off the bone, and this dish has make me realize that I love sunchokes

Strawberry shortcake -- tasty strawberries, a little too much whipped cream for my taste, the cake was nice but not necessary

Mochi - chocolate peanut butter, blueberry, lychee, and another flavor which escapes me now

As for the squid salad, I've found that the celery really helps with the heat. It's quite addictive though, although a little gritty.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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I really wanted to like the sugar snap peas more than I did. The ham was excellent, but I found the peas to be tasty but kind of stringy. Perhaps some rushed prep? I had to keep removing bits I found to be unchewable.

Sugar snap peas definitely need to be stringed! Then they're fully edible.

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 would like to take my German realtives to Momofuku for dinner. It seens that they do not take reservations. Is there an optimal time to go (preferably early) on a Monday or Tuesday so that we do not have to wait?

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I would like to take my German realtives to Momofuku for dinner. It seens that they do not take reservations. Is there an optimal time to go (preferably early) on a Monday or Tuesday so that we do not have to wait?

Go early - be there when they open for dinner service.

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 would like to take my German realtives to Momofuku for dinner. It seens that they do not take reservations. Is there an optimal time to go (preferably early) on a Monday or Tuesday so that we do not have to wait?

Monday. I believe Tuesday is Tien's night off, although that may have changed (I haven't been there in about 2 months).
Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Also, keep in mind that as long as you don't get there at, say, 8:15, the wait doesn't seem to be too bad in general (except weekends). It might be a good idea to put your names down and then wander across the street to the Blue Owl, or down the block to Bar Veloce, both of which are fine places to have a drink before dinner.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Stopped by a pleasantly uncrowded Momo Ssam last night at about 6:20 before heading uptown to Shakespeare in the Park. Momo Ssam was the perfect spot for a quick but delicious meal with a couple friends. Not sure of how to initially describe the style of cuisine to my dining partners I offered up the following description: An Asian cook, classically trained, making the food he'd want to eat. Our meal embodied my somewhat haphazard portrayal perfectly.

The three of us shared the following dishes:

Scallops, lemon puree, pickled cherries, seaweed - Very solid crudo-like dish, but it was the lemon puree that stole the show. It was creamy and perfectly balanced between sour, sweet, and bitter.

Steamed buns - Great as always. One among us had never sampled these delectable wares and commented, "I could eat these forever."

Fried baby artichokes, walnuts, anchovy, fish sauce - Another great blend of salty and slightly bitter. These were quite addictive.

Banh mi - Great again with an unmistakable and satisfying baseline offal-taste wonderfully foiled by a nice amount of spice and cilantro.

Old Bay pan-fried skate, roasted fingerlings, pickled ramps, spicy aioli - Perhaps the least Asian of all the items, this also seemed the most seasonal. Not because of the ingredients per se but because this dish had this whole bistro-meets-picnic flavor profile going on.

Pork spare ribs, tomatillos, sunchokes, mustard seeds - A nicely sized pile of ribs, slow-cooked, grilled, then topped with an addictive sauce with minty herbs and red onion. It managed to taste like American barbeque, Chinese roast pork, and Korean bulgogi all at once. The creamy sunchoke salad was a funny play on potato salad and the pickled tomatillos a play on normal cucumber pickles.

Everything was paced quite nicely and we got out of there in about an hour and twenty minutes and had spent $43 p/p; perfect considering our plans to follow. I will say the whole "no substitutions or special requests" can be a little bit obnoxious, but I suppose I don't necessarily hold it against the restaurant. I asked for the banh mi to be cut into thirds but was flat out denied. I can see why--the sandwich is engineered such that the center is fuller with ingredients than the extremities--but it seemed a bit excessive in not granting such a simple request.

But other than that minor annoyance, a very solid meal and great way to start a beautiful summer evening.

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Just got back from NYC where we enjoyed a plethora of meals in many different restaurants: Momofuku, Lupa, The Bar Room at The Modern, Cru and Fresca.

Loved them all but I was totally knocked out by the food we had at Momofuku.

loved the hams, the steamed buns, the peas.....and the strawberry shortcake was fab!

Service was great too considering it was late.

Say what you will, this is a smashing restaurant.

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Just got back from NYC where we enjoyed a plethora of meals in many different restaurants: Momofuku, Lupa, The Bar Room at The Modern, Cru and Fresca.

Loved them all but I was totally knocked out by the food we had at Momofuku.

loved the hams, the steamed buns, the peas.....and the strawberry shortcake was fab!

Service was great too considering it was late.

Say what you will, this is a smashing restaurant.

Sounds like you hit some great places!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went the other day to momofuku ssaam and it was great. I have a question what he uses on his wraps' are they flour tortillas or rice flour pancakes. Does anyone knows if he buys them or makes them in house, and if he does anyone has the recipe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This place looks amazing. My husband and I get one night out in NYC after 2 yrs of being away, and we're sans baby and headed here. Can anyone tell me the "must have" dishes, any favorite wines, and approx how long we should expect to wait at 8 pm on a Sunday night in August? Thanks!!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Hi Sara,

Waits can be variable... You may be able to sit immediately, or you may wait a half hour. I really enjoy this place and find that the food is worth the wait.

I like the cauliflower (seasonal, is just coming back on the menu after a 7 month (or so) hiatus), the hamachi, banh mi sandwich, hangar steak ssam, spare ribs, skate wing, sausage-clam-rice cakes soup, oysters, scallops (only recommended if you really like lemon), squid salad and strawberry shortcake.

There's a relatively new rioja on the menu that is very nice.

There are lots of photos on flickr.com - you can search for momofuku and start whetting your appetite :) Some of the photos are of momofuku noodle bar. You'll be able to tell by the shade of the wood counter: noodle bar is more of a blonde wood, ssam bar is a darker wood.

Have fun :raz:

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Some of the links to flickr photosets are already linked in this thread :-P

I think the discussion of dishes is still highly relevant... just be sure to take into account the new dishes recently mentioned.

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I just got back from NYC, had an amazing dinner at Momofuku. That scallop dish was outstanding, and I also found the chili squid salad to be a breathtaking dish. Then the 6 of us annihilated the pork butt...frankly, it was one of the best things I've ever eaten.

I had a great dinner at Babbo, and a very fun tasting menu at Palo Santo in Park Slope, but that dinner at Momofuku is what I'll remember the most.

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A couple of new items well worth trying as summer produce really starts to rain down on us here in the Northeast:

- Heirloom tomato salad with opal basil, pickled shallots and fried tofu. The little cubes of fried tofu are like trompe l'oeil croutons, and the quality of the tomatoes is amazing -- best I've had all summer, earthy and sweet, in a nice assortment.

- Poached Mayan prawns with cantaloupe, cucumber, mint and lemon basil. This is, along with the heirloom tomato salad, one of the most visually stunning dishes I've seen at Momo-Ssam (or anywhere lately) and is, thankfully, not biased towards sweet in the way you might fear. The prawns, though they appear totally plain to the naked eye, are poached in some sort of court-bouillon and then marinated in fish sauce and spices. The spice balances out the sweetness of the cantaloupe balls, and the tiny cucumber balls (it's amazing how similar cucumber and cantaloupe are when they're denatured in this way) add some nice crunch.

- As mentioned above, the renowned fried cauliflower is back, and it's great, with chilies, mint, delfino (which I believe is a variety of cilantro) and fish sauce.

Overall the menu is now in full summer mode. There are Jonah crab claws from Maine, and a lobster dish with watermelon. While there's still plenty of pork and offal available, you could go to Momo-Ssam tonight and put together a 15-course meal built around fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits, all of which go nicely with a glass of sparkling Vouvray.

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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That's funny - last night I had the most flavorful tomato salad, the cauliflower, the skate and a compliment of the prawns (which was absolutely fabulous). Every dish was fantastic. Ssam Bar gets tremendous press for meat and offal, but they do an equally skilled job turning out the most delicious vegetables and fishes.

The skate that I had is a new version that has been on the menu for a month or so. It's served with a slightly spicy aioli, a small amount of preserved lemon, fingerling potatoes and leeks. I highly recommend it.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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