New York Magazine has an article this week about David Chang, the chef/owner of Momofuku Noodle Bar and the newer Momofuku Ssam Bar, in the East Village. I've eaten at the Noodle Bar a few times, and it's very good. Not even necessarily the noodle dishes (which I liked a lot, but I've read mixed reviews from others) but everything else too -- the steamed pork buns, I had a good octopus dish, some other stuff too. The Ssam Bar was his attempt to introduce Asian-inspired burritos to the city... Berkshire Pork, rice, kimchi, edamame... I tried it right when it opened and wasn't a huge fan, but I think it's just because I'm not a huge burrito fan... too much bulk, I'm not big into the rice and beans stuff. But at some point in the fall, he introduced a late-night menu at the Ssam Bar, with more creative offerings -- a banh mi terrine, oysters, brussels sprouts with fish sauce. But the late-night menu didn't start until 10:30, and I hadn't found myself out and hungry at 10:30, and so I hadn't been. But the New York article mentioned they'd recently changed it so the late-night menu is a dinner menu and starts at 6:00. So I went with some friends tonight, eager to try it. And it was really excellent. Really, really excellent. The article talks more about this, but Chang isn't into too much choice -- the menu says "we do not serve vegetarian-friendly items" and even the vegetables have some kind of fish or meat going on inside them. I'd heard good things about the ordinary-sounding "seasonal pickles" so we got them to share, and they were super-cool. A whole bunch of pickled vegetables (and no meat, actually) -- mushrooms, celery, cauliflower, jicama (I think), carrots, brussels sprouts, parsnip, cabbage (kimchi), some little squares of miscellaneous spicy vegetable, and maybe something else I'm forgetting. I don't know if I'd want to eat the entire ($9) plate of pickles by myself, but they were excellent. We also shared an order of steamed pork buns, which were as good as they are down the street at the Noodle Bar. I got the grilled rice cakes with pork sausage, collard greens, and kimchi. It was really tasty. Really, really tasty. It's not rice cakes like Quaker. It's rice cakes like gummy cylinders of rice flour. Like extremely thick and dense noodles. I've had them before in Chinatown. I like them. Most of the other people I was with got ssams (burritos) which were spicy but seemed to go over well. You can read more of the menu here. Really good. And crowded, which the New York article said it wasn't... so maybe the magazine is driving people there... or maybe anything's going to be crowded on Friday at 7:00.
I don't post often enough about food. I'll try to do more. Food is good.