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More Momofuku

Momofuku steamed pork buns

I mean, really. Did you think I would just casually drop Momofuku Ssäm in a previous post and not proceed to put up more mouth-watering shots from the meal? Out of three days in NYC, I managed to hit up 3 of the 4 Momo eating empires, including Ssäm and Noodle Bar (I’ll save Ko for another time if I’m lucky). We actually ended up at Ssäm first, thinking it was Noodle Bar, “a common mistake,” our server told us as we squeezed our way up to the packed communal dining table. Common, yet delicious as we proceeded to start with the heavenly creation that is the steamed pork buns. The soft spongy buns serve as the perfect grip for a generous, juicy chunk of pork belly, slather of tangy hoisin sauce, squirt of fiery hot sauce, crispy cucumbers and scallions. It’s chef David Chang’s signature dish, and so totally amazing, I knew I had a new craving on my hands; one that would continue to hit me throughout the impending Chicago winter. But we still had to focus at Ssäm, as there was melt-in-your-mouth cured hamachi with horseradish and edamame purée to try (divine), sides like fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette, mint and crispy puffed rice, and grilled branzini, a flavorful firm white fish entrée served with delicious smoked eel, zucchini and a marjoram pistou.

Hamachi appetizer


Grilled branzini


Fried brussels sprouts


For dessert (yes, we had dessert even after our appetizer of Milk Bar cookies), the Thai Iced Parfait was too intriguing to pass up. Of course, it was totally unexpected; a quenelle of perfectly tart lemon mascarpone nestled up to Thai iced tea custard in a long, rectangular shape. A pile of crunchy granules of almond tea held them together on the plate. Pretty. Delicious. Gone in 60 seconds.

Thai Iced Tea parfait


You’d think after all this, I woulda had enough Momo, but I’m not sure that’s entirely possible. I had a two-hour window my last night, and made a bee line to Momofuku Noodle bar to grab a relatively fast seat at the communal dining table. The place was packed, the servers worked the place like masters, and just like Ssäm and Milk Bar, a crowd of hungry diners huddled outside. Everything on the menu looked ridiculous (chilled spicy noodles with Szechuan spiced sausage, smoked chicken wings with pickled chile, sliced fluke with apple purée), but I knew I had to have a repeat performance of the famous pork buns, and without a doubt, a steaming, heaping, soul-soothing bowl of the Momofuku Ramen I heard so much about. I definitely may have dorkily clapped a few times when the massive bowl of pork belly, pork shoulder, bamboo shoots, scallions and a poached egg appeared. I’ve made the claim before that everything is better with the addition of an egg (or avocado), and when it’s broken up inside the hot, salty, pork bone-bacon-shiitake mushroom-flavorful broth and swirled amid slices of daikon, clusters of green onion and soft, silky ramen noodles that defy all memories of dry crunchy blocks of wavy noodles that broke into chunks as they were carelessly stacked around my college dorm room, this statement rings more than true. Wait, let me take that back. Everything is better with pork belly, and pork shoulder, their meaty, juicy, tenderness soaks throughout the broth, and you don’t know whether to slurp them down, or let them spread their flavorful love around the bowl. So you take a nibble, stir, gather a few slurps from the over-sized soup spoon, a few luscious grasps of noodles with your chopsticks and repeat, hopefully, every time you’re back in New York. Momofuku Noodle Bar 171 First, Avenue, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, 207 2nd Ave.

Momofuku Ramen

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Momofuku Milk Bar

Crack pie at Momofuku Milk Bar

See, waiting for your table isn’t always a royal painski when things like crack pie, compost cookies, blueberry cream cookies, chocolate chip cake, candy bar pie (caramel, peanut butter nougat, peanut brittle, toasted pretzels and chocolate crust) are staring you in the face. This happens at pastry chef Christina Tosi’s sleek and modern Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC if you are waiting for your table at the adjacent Momofuku Ssäm, or if you head in for dessert after 8PM. Sure, steamed pork buns, branzini and hamachi await, but let them as you reach for a chocolate chip, marshmallow and cornflake cookie fresh from the oven. They actually offer a few daily changing savory items like a very intriguing sounding chorizo challah, the “volcano” (a potato dish encased in bread) banana green curry bread, but you’ll most likely reach for something that goes with the cereal milk soft serve. Momofuku Milk Bar, 207 2nd Ave., NYC

Chocolate chip cake


Compost cookie


Candy bar pie

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