Saturday, May 5, 2012

Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York

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Many of Ramen Adventure's readers come from America. So many should know about Momofuku and David Chang. The uber-famous Korean-American bad-boy chef that blah blah blah, I'm not into that stuff really. Go to the million other blogs that either worship Momofuku or scream and cry about how overrated he is.

I'm here for the noodles. Spoiler alert, they are overrated.

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But the rest of the menu is fantastic.

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I ventured in with none other than Ivan of Ivan Ramen and Nate of ramenate.com.

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Two of our group are New York natives. Two of our group have direct connections to Momofuku (Nate wrote an excellent article for the Lucky Peach Issue #1 and Ivan graces the cover - his hands at least). All three of us are certified ramen nuts.

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By the way, the following negative statements are solely the opinion of Ramen Adventures.

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This bowl is weak. The soup follows a standard shoyu recipe, but substitutes the difficult-to-find dried katsuo flakes with smoked bacon. The idea is to substitute one smoky meat for another. It doesn't work. I'm a big fan of the recent bacon everywhere campaign in American foods, but not here. The Momofuku book goes into detail on this topic, and is actually convincing. Until you taste it.

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I think part of the reason is the restaurant's relationship with local farms. The nearest katsuo factory is half a globe away, but excellent pork is just upstate. Excellent pork that shines in the toppings. The belly and shredded shoulder, as well as the half cooked egg, are the best I've experienced stateside. Noodles ain't bad either. Might work in a different soup.

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No one comes to Momofuku for a quick bowl. The menu offers a dozen or so small plates. Are these on par with the noodles? Or are they up there with the toppings?

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Toppings. The grilled octopus is drizzled with a sweet and spicy kimchi and orange foam.

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The fingerling potatoes are on a bed of miso, and topped with . . . katsou flakes! I thought they couldn't get those! Don't put too much thought into it.

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The cauliflower is kicked up just a touch with citrus and spice. The cured duck salad is textural and aromatic.

This is a theme at all the Momofuku restaurants; heavily modified eats that can be as tasty as they are confusing. At the nearby Momofuku Saam Bar, I had cured ham with coffee mayo, apple kimchi, and raw beef minced with watermelon. Off-topic food conversations could drag on at this rate.

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You could spend a lot of both time and money here.

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Budget enough time, a couple hours, to wait and eat, and budget enough cash to eat whatever you want.

And if you go with a group, go ahead and just order one bowl of noodles. Share it, check it off your list, and move on.

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Check site for hours.

2 comments:

Ricky said...

They used to use lomein noodles from chinatown in the beginning. Probably the worst ramen in NYC

heller66 said...

Yeah, I went to Momofuku Ssam Bar a couple of years ago and the food there is fantastic, but the noodle bar always seemed kind of iffy. David Chang doesn't care how something is "supposed" to be done. It makes him a genius but it also makes him just wrong sometimes.