Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar (2006–2007)


Bond Girl
 Share

Recommended Posts

Momofuku Ssam Bar is the best restaurant in New York City right now.

I don't mean that in terms of value proposition, as in "Gray's Papaya is the best restaurant in New York because you can get a great meal for $3." I mean, rather, that Momofuku Ssam Bar is serving the best food in New York at any price.

Yes, I'm disregarding comfort and the trappings of fine dining (though I hasten to add that the service at Momofuku Ssam Bar is excellent: friendly, knowledgeable and attentive). I'm just talking about food.

Four-star food in less than stellar surroundings - hmm... I started a thread on that once and the responses were quite revealing.

So saying this about MSB, isn't it also saying there's a flaw in the current way restaurants are "starred?" If MSB is serving 4-star food and yet gets two stars from the Times, how will the average diner ever come to that conclusion?

Isn't MSB the poster child for the split rating or no star rating (just copy and a recommendation)?

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually like the surroundings. I like everything about the restaurant, save for the fact that the stools are the width of the average Korean ass.

It just isn't a traditional fine-dining restaurant, is all. As far as I'm concerned, the appropriate star rating is zero.

Perhaps that should be a wake-up call for the places carrying lots of stars and serving food that isn't as good. But we have another topic for endless speculation about stars.

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)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually like the surroundings. I like everything about the restaurant, save for the fact that the stools are the width of the average Korean ass.

FG: Well, that's why they have bench seating, too. :-)

Note to the rest, the place tends to clear out after 10 PM. Also, you can begin ordering at the standalone counter at the back, assuming there's not a crowd of people around it already. It's also a better place to wait compared to the crowded front.

I thought the uni had a little too much going on and the broths are too sweet overall (the latter seemingly a trend in Korean restaurants these days, which is a pity). But, I've basically enjoyed everything there and I was echoing the same sentiments to my wife this past weekend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went lest night est. wait time 45- 1 hr. seated in 25 mins. Blew my mind, knocked my socks off. That haaaaammm

The bahn miiiiii

The efficient stafff :wub::wub::wub:

Between Degu and Saam the young chefs are really playing ball these days. I told Chef Ho that I wished I could cook like that, and I really mean it. I wish I could cook like that. I hope to some day have it in me. :smile:

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about it, and have come to the following conclusion:

Momofuku Ssam Bar is the best restaurant in New York City right now.

I don't mean that in terms of value proposition, as in "Gray's Papaya is the best restaurant in New York because you can get a great meal for $3." I mean, rather, that Momofuku Ssam Bar is serving the best food in New York at any price.

Yes, I'm disregarding comfort and the trappings of fine dining (though I hasten to add that the service at Momofuku Ssam Bar is excellent: friendly, knowledgeable and attentive). I'm just talking about food. I think the best dishes at Momofuku Ssam Bar are better than anything I've had at Per Se, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin and so on down the line.

I can't name a dish at any of the top fine-dining restaurants that I think is better than Momofuku Ssam Bar's uni with tapioca and whipped tofu (I'll put it up against "oysters and pearls" any day), Chawan mushi with escargots (I'd choose it over Gray Kunz's risotto), or even the humble fried Brussels sprouts (far tastier, to me, than Jean Georges scallops with cauliflower). Not since the early days of Lespinasse have I experienced so many flavor revelations at one restaurant.

that's a bold statement, but even going on food alone, not to mention the other things that go in to making a truly great restaurant, msb can not hold a candle to masa... the food there is about five levels beyond msb. not to mention there is a really chef with years of experience making it for me, not a bunch of young line cooks. masa has superior product, superior technique, superior execution. don't get me wrong i love msb, but i love it for what it is to me, another late night place where i can get great food. i'm not going to eat there before midnight. i don't know much about restaurants, but i don't think it's the best restaurant in nyc, and neither does the ny times, post, daily news, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so I dined here last night and finally got around to trying the brussel sprouts...they really are something else.

but what I really wanted to rave about is a dish that I haven't seen mentioned. the Spanish mackerel. it comes out in a very spare presentation: two large pieces of perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned mackerel, a small pile of slivered daikon, a bowl of ponzu sauce, two pieces of salted plum. ineffable.

four dishes plus the pickles for dessert (have some of you dropped your contention that any good restaurant must serve good desserts? (stares at Sneakeater)). gluttonous heaven. and completely necessary after the day I had.

while I was dining, I thought something that I've posted on the Bruni thread: "I think Ssam Bar is a great litmus test -- is food what you care about? or is it really all the trappings of fine dining? its loud (too loud for a meeting, clients, or a first date...unless you're like me and really don't want to talk to your dates), uncomfortable, rambunctious and forces you to concentrate only on the plate in front of you. it's a thing of beauty."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was going to write about the food but I'm swamped, so for now... pictures.

Question: how large are the portions in the ham selections? Would it be ridiculous for two people to order all three and expect to order several more dishes?

I rather like the music selection. It was "90's grunge-ish" on my last visit, anyway. It's been a long time since I've listened to Soundgarden while eating dinner and it works in that setting.

Edited by larrylee (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Momo II last night at about 8:40, 45 minute wait was really half that. Love the music, energy, happy people stuffing their faces, knowledgable and friendly staff. It's loud but it completely works, and it puts me in a really good mood.

I still need to go back. Have not had the chawan mushi or the uni. We have a habit of overordering at Momo I (aka noodle bar) and have decided to try to control ourselves.

Brussel sprouts with chiles and fish sauce. Yum, I was craving brussel sprouts all day. Spicy and salty, satisfies a multitude of desires. Apple salad. I dont know what fault anyone could find with pork-flavored crunchy apples, which is pretty much what this dish amounts to. I love it. He not so much.

Banh mi. Crazy delicious. We were both blown away by it - there's so much going on in that sandwich, but it's really something else. The kind of thing I'll crave at the most random and inopportune times. Chicken leg clay pot. Perfect for a disgustingly cold and damp night like last night.

On previous visits I've had a variety of other things - ham, rice cakes, short rib clay pot, etc., all of which I've really enjoyed.

Am incredibly aware of how blasphemous some of you are going to find this, but I'm going to say it anyway. I'll preface by noting that I really, really like Momo Ssam. I can find no fault with the place, other than it being crowded all the time. The food is excellent, the cooking more refined. But Noodle Bar has dishes that I literally dream about, wake up in the morning thinking about, make plans around. Ssam is awesome, but I crave Noodle Bar. Asparagus with miso butter and poached egg in the spring, sugar snap peas with horseradish in the summer, fiery kimchi stew in the winter. And the brussel sprouts at Noodle Bar kick Ssam brussel sprout ass - I'll take them with kimchi and bacon any day. Other than the bahn mi I haven't yet had that experience at Ssam. But I'm not done - still haven't had the chawan mushi . . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Daisy17 - Have you tried the hamachi at ssam bar yet? I recommend it. I think it's better than noodle bar's hamachi (which I also do love).

I don't think it's basphemous to say you like one more than the other... Both places are great but they don't completely overlap each other in terms of cuisine and setup. I find that there are certain things that I like better about ssam bar (having a glass of riesling with a nice spicy dish, or getting to have the banh mi, chawan mushi, hamachi and any other dish specific to ssam bar) and things that I like better about noodle bar (uber casual, sitting infront of a toasty open kitchen on a cold winter's day, kimchi stew, root vegetables, etc...). I'll choose one place over another depending on what specific dish and environment I'm craving. I eat out at both places so often, that ultimately, I never end up feeling like I like one better than the other - they just satisfy different eating out experiences. If one type of experience ends up being ultimately preferable for me, than that restaurant will win, but so far I'm having fun at both.

Blasphemous would be to dislike both ssam bar and noodle bar. That would be something I couldn't get past.... :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Daisy17 - Have you tried the hamachi at ssam bar yet?  I recommend it.  I think it's better than noodle bar's hamachi (which I also do love). 

We were THIS close to getting the hamachi but passed it over in favor of the clay pot which seemed like a better choice on such a cold night. Next time. And chawan mushi, which I know you love.

Blasphemous would be to dislike both ssam bar and noodle bar. That would be something I couldn't get past....

That would be simply insane. They are two of my absolute favorite places right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about it, and have come to the following conclusion:

Momofuku Ssam Bar is the best restaurant in New York City right now.

I don't mean that in terms of value proposition, as in "Gray's Papaya is the best restaurant in New York because you can get a great meal for $3." I mean, rather, that Momofuku Ssam Bar is serving the best food in New York at any price.

Yes, I'm disregarding comfort and the trappings of fine dining (though I hasten to add that the service at Momofuku Ssam Bar is excellent: friendly, knowledgeable and attentive). I'm just talking about food. I think the best dishes at Momofuku Ssam Bar are better than anything I've had at Per Se, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin and so on down the line.

I can't name a dish at any of the top fine-dining restaurants that I think is better than Momofuku Ssam Bar's uni with tapioca and whipped tofu (I'll put it up against "oysters and pearls" any day), Chawan mushi with escargots (I'd choose it over Gray Kunz's risotto), or even the humble fried Brussels sprouts (far tastier, to me, than Jean Georges scallops with cauliflower). Not since the early days of Lespinasse have I experienced so many flavor revelations at one restaurant.

that's a bold statement, but even going on food alone, not to mention the other things that go in to making a truly great restaurant, msb can not hold a candle to masa... the food there is about five levels beyond msb. not to mention there is a really chef with years of experience making it for me, not a bunch of young line cooks. masa has superior product, superior technique, superior execution. don't get me wrong i love msb, but i love it for what it is to me, another late night place where i can get great food. i'm not going to eat there before midnight. i don't know much about restaurants, but i don't think it's the best restaurant in nyc, and neither does the ny times, post, daily news, etc.

Got to go out on a limb here and point at another possibility. If you put together a bunch of young talented line cooks with nothing on their mind other then creativity, your likely to get a interesting menu. When you add the pressure of owners breathing down your neck, the plumber not showing up, and the dishwasher hung over, it's a distraction from being creative. Chef's have that distraction that line cooks need not worry about.

Congratulations to Chef Chang on the Beard nominations!

Edited by robert40 (log)

Robert R

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
I had a really delicious new asparagus with slow cooked egg dish at Ssam Bar last night.  There was some sort of sauce under the asparagus.  Does anyone know what it is?

I saw this asparagus at Ssam Bar earlier in the week - it looked like the same dish that was at Noodle Bar last spring. If it is the same dish, then it is a miso butter that is underneath the asparagus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the asparagus w/miso butter and poached egg makes my knees weak.

Seventy years ago I had that same affect on women.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't think anyone's linked to Platt's review yet (if I missed it upthread, let me know), so here you go:

Like Mario Batali and the great British chef Fergus Henderson, Chang is a card-carrying member of what one of my dining friends calls the “Refined Meathead” school of cooking. Meathead chefs have a fondness for pork products and for offal (“We do not serve vegetarian-friendly items,” says the menu at Momofuku Ssäm Bar), and the best of them, including Chang, have a knack for creating big, addictive flavor combinations that get under your skin.

(Three out of five stars, BTW...)

Yes, I'm disregarding comfort and the trappings of fine dining (though I hasten to add that the service at Momofuku Ssam Bar is excellent: friendly, knowledgeable and attentive).

Except for the time they banged me in the forehead with a plate. :laugh:

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I'm disregarding comfort and the trappings of fine dining (though I hasten to add that the service at Momofuku Ssam Bar is excellent: friendly, knowledgeable and attentive).

Except for the time they banged me in the forehead with a plate. :laugh:

Megan, was that you??? I'm sorry. :cool:

Anyway, I hope is was at least one of their best dishes.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...