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Momofuku Ssäm Bar (2006–2007)


Bond Girl
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Brussels sprouts are back! Brussels sprouts are back!

Brussels sprouts are back!

The Honeycrisp Apple Kimchi continues to be beautiful.

Braised escarole also good with flavorful, tender chicken and a poached egg. Lots of garlic. Kind of like a composed chicken and leafy vegetable stew with a bit of heat. Hearty and tasty and something that would be perfect on a colder night.

Oh, and the Amish Cheddar Shortcake? Words cannot describe. Warm Empire apple compote, ham cream (yes, you read that right, ham cream), some cider syrup on top. Ham + apples + cheese = amazing. The servers said that very few people had been ordering it; those people are idiots (possibly).

With the apple salad, the apple/cheddar shortcake, and apple kimchi, I think I might end up eating only apples at my next meal.

My boyfriend said to me, "They should change their name to Lucky Apple."

I'm with you on the cheddar shortcake. It's pure heaven. I'm going to have to try the braised escarole next time. Was that from the small side of the menu or the larger side? I didn't notice it. I think we may have just missed each other - I didn't see you :(

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The braised escarole was from the Local section. We actually got chided by a server for not getting the lamb shoulder but my rationale was that we could get the shortcake, brussels sprouts, escarole, and apple kimchi, thereby trying a lot of new/back in season stuff, rather than fill up on the lamb. How big is the lamb? We liked but did not love the lamb belly.

Ended up going there around 10:30pm as I was stuck at work, and the place was only half-full. The servers were complaining about the repaving of 2nd Avenue, which meant less foot traffic than normal.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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on Saturday night I sampled:

apple kimchi. seriously fricking good.

spicy tripe salad. not spicy in the slightest but in an incredible broth. better than the (very good) tripe I had last night at Babbo.

the lamb shoulder is 10 times better than the lamb belly.

it's a massive portion of very gamey/lamby lamb....comes with a classic red wine reduction. it's basically a standard three star French entree. but for $23!

seriously.

it basically seems to just be "let's show them that we can cook classic French if we feel like it"...

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on Saturday night I sampled:

apple kimchi.  seriously fricking good.

spicy tripe salad.  not spicy in the slightest but in an incredible broth.  better than the (very good) tripe I had last night at Babbo.

the lamb shoulder is 10 times better than the lamb belly.

it's a massive portion of very gamey/lamby lamb....comes with a classic red wine reduction.  it's basically a standard three star French entree.  but for $23!

seriously.

it basically seems to just be "let's show them that we can cook classic French if we feel like it"...

Stop, Stop! You guys are making me crazy. Here I am 3.000 miles away with memories of a most amazing meal at Momofuku this summer. Oh, were I rich enough to fly there more often.

Until then taste memories will have to suffice.

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I'm freakin jealous of you all!  Damn you guys.  I can't wait till I'm in NYC. 

When is Momo Ko opening?

Soon, I hope. Tried to get intel from Ssam Bar servers but no dice.

NYT said that Momofuku Noodle Bar was moving to its new space this/next week, so hopefully very soon after that Ko will open?

Nathan, the spicy tripe salad I had last week was definitely spicy. Not overwhelmingly so but had a kick to it! I wonder what happened.

Edited by kathryn (log)
"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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I'm freakin jealous of you all!  Damn you guys.  I can't wait till I'm in NYC. 

When is Momo Ko opening?

Soon, I hope. Tried to get intel from Ssam Bar servers but no dice.

NYT said that Momofuku Noodle Bar was moving to its new space this/next week, so hopefully very soon after that Ko will open?

Nathan, the spicy tripe salad I had last week was definitely spicy. Not overwhelmingly so but had a kick to it! I wonder what happened.

Word is late November?

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Nathan, the spicy tripe salad I had last week was definitely spicy. Not overwhelmingly so but had a kick to it! I wonder what happened.

eh...it was less spicy than the not-very-spicy squid salad (especially since they dropped the Sichuan peppers...but it was very very good.

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I just realized that it's been just about a year since the "late-night menu" was introduced. Below, Sneakeater's post:

Had the late-night menu.  It was very good.  Although not exactly all that's been represented.

Reading the hype, you get the idea that there's this elite corps of chefs creating these highly imaginative go-for-broke dishes in the Momofuko style.  The "in the Momofuko style" is right, but other than that, there was nothing that wouldn't have been at home on the menu at Momofuko proper.  In other words, late-night Ssam is sort of like all-day Momofuko, except that there's comfortable seating and the centerpiece of the menu is a bunch of cured-ham-or-pork plates instead of a bunch of ramen bowls.

I'm not gonna go through the dishes we had.  All were good -- and I'm sure that everything on the menu is good.  As at Momofuko proper, standards of ingredients and execution are high.  Unless you're some died-in-the-wool pork freak, selection among the pork plates has to be almost comically random (I sure can't tell in advance what the differences between these producers and styles will be), so it's going to have to be a matter of trying and contrasting over time.  (Since all the pork plates are similarly or maybe even identically priced, it would be nice if they allowed combination platters or "flights" or something.  Maybe they even do:  we didn't ask.)  The pork plates consist of a bunch of thinly-cut strips of cured pork or ham, together with some bread and a very delicious spiced apple butter.  (By going on a about the pork plates, I don't want to give the impression that they tower over the rest of the menu.  They don't:  I'd even say I liked some of the cooked dishes better.  It's just that, as I said, the pork plates seem to be the centerpiece of the late-night menu.)

Prices are gentle.

This is a very good addition to the late-night dining scene.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Curse the eG!

I got home from the airport at 12:30 am. Read this thread at 12:50 am. Was out the door by 1:00 am. Just got home after an apple kimchi, spicy squid, pig's head torchon, and cheesecake. Things are better than ever, IMO.

One thing I do feel compelled to note (since it often flies under the radar) is that the quality of cuisine at MSB isn't entirely independent of who's cooking. This is sort of a truism, but seems to have gone ignored in this thread, at least. F'rex, Tien being there seems to make a noticeable difference (at least to me) in the quality of the cuisine. Curious as to what others think.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Curse the eG!

I got home from the airport at 12:30 am. Read this thread at 12:50 am. Was out the door by 1:00 am. Just got home after an apple kimchi, spicy squid, pig's head torchon, and cheesecake. Things are better than ever, IMO.

One thing I do feel compelled to note (since it often flies under the radar) is that the quality of cuisine at MSB isn't entirely independent of who's cooking. This is sort of a truism, but seems to have gone ignored in this thread, at least. F'rex, Tien being there seems to make a noticeable difference (at least to me) in the quality of the cuisine. Curious as to what others think.

Tien is a bad ass chef.

Edit: I've been to Ssam Bar when Tien has not been there. Without being able to see exactly everything going on in the kitchen, it's hard to know if any perceived differences are random or naturally occurring, or if they are attributable to who is/is not there... It's just not something I'd want to say without seeing it first hand.

Edited by spaetzle_maker (log)
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Nathan, the spicy tripe salad I had last week was definitely spicy. Not overwhelmingly so but had a kick to it! I wonder what happened.

eh...it was less spicy than the not-very-spicy squid salad (especially since they dropped the Sichuan peppers...but it was very very good.

Nathan, I remember that you said that they dropped the peppers... But I've gotten the squid salad a few times after that and it was just as spicy as I remembered.

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on Saturday night I sampled:

apple kimchi.  seriously fricking good.

spicy tripe salad.  not spicy in the slightest but in an incredible broth.  better than the (very good) tripe I had last night at Babbo.

the lamb shoulder is 10 times better than the lamb belly.

it's a massive portion of very gamey/lamby lamb....comes with a classic red wine reduction.  it's basically a standard three star French entree.  but for $23!

seriously.

it basically seems to just be "let's show them that we can cook classic French if we feel like it"...

I can't stop thinking about my dinner from friday. Oysters, kimchi apples, lamb and cheddar shortcake (and as Kathryn has mentioned, with ham cream). I think I've posted all about it already, so view this post as just extra emphasis on how damn good it all was.

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Kathryn, about once a week I'll go to flickr to see what else you've put up there :)

Just don't take any more pictures with me in them :laugh:

Edit: adding more smiley faces to indicate this is in good humor:

:laugh::laugh::laugh::cool::cool::cool::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Edited by spaetzle_maker (log)
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as someone who is dessert-averse...I finally sampled the cheddar cheesecake with ham cream. ham cream's time has come. the apple works nicely in the dish as well.

I really really love this restaurant. it's not overrated...it really is some of the best cooking in NY right now.

I crave it. can't really say that about anywhere else. (once you've had that tripe salad you wonder why you bother to eat anywhere else ever again)

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as someone who is dessert-averse...I finally sampled the cheddar cheesecake with ham cream.  ham cream's time has come.  the apple works nicely in the dish as well.

This dessert is perfect: The flavors are soft and gentle without being too sweet. I really like the portion size also. It's a perfect little way to finish off dinner.

I really really love this restaurant.  it's not overrated...it really is some of the best cooking in NY right now.

For a restaurant in this price range and with the casual, laid back setup, Ssam Bar wins in terms of quality, flavor, consistency and service.

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see, I think it's great regardless of price point.

It's great regardless of price point. I don't eat at more expensive restaurants with enough frequency to know whether or not Ssam Bar is the best at any price point. But I will say that out of the restaurants in this price range and with this kind of casual setting, I do think that Ssam Bar is the best.

Edited by spaetzle_maker (log)
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as someone who is dessert-averse...I finally sampled the cheddar cheesecake with ham cream.  ham cream's time has come.  the apple works nicely in the dish as well.

I really really love this restaurant.  it's not overrated...it really is some of the best cooking in NY right now.

I crave it.  can't really say that about anywhere else.  (once you've had that tripe salad you wonder why you bother to eat anywhere else ever again)

(You mean cheddar shortcake, no? Not cheesecake in the traditional NY cheese cake sense...)

Something about the food really hits the spot. I've been to nicer and fancier and more expensive places, but there's just something about Ssam Bar...

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Wow - I had a cheddar cheesecake at the House of Blues in New Orleans over a decade ago. It was fantastic. I believe it had a sort of crawfish on it - whatever it was, it was delicious. Not a dessert, but great nonetheless. Never thought I'd see "cheddar cheesecake" again.

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