When planning my NYC trip I had only one thing on my agenda – eat at Momofuku.
After watching the first season of Mind of a Chef, it is hard to not be a fan of David Chang. Humble, good natured, a total food nerd and all around cool guy, David Chang seems like the type of person you would want to get a beer with. The likelihood of that happening — none. So the next best thing was to eat at one of his restaurants.
Reservation-less and on a Friday night we decided to take our chances and headed to Momofuku Saam in the Lower Eastside. Inside, the restaurant was surprisingly small, dimly lit, and packed with people. We were informed the wait time would be two hours. Not sure if our stomaches would be able to hold out for two hours, we weighed our options. And then through the open kitchen window was the real-life image of David Chang, cooking. The decision was made for us, we would wait for David Chang to cook for us.
In the meantime we wandered the streets bordering Soho and had a couple of drinks. About an hour later we were back at Momofuku Saam, all seven of us happily crammed onto a table meant for five. The waiter informed us that there was only one special left — a 32 ounce double pork chop that was brined for two days, served sliced with sautéed peaches, corn, spinach, and a blue cheese dipping sauce. Yes, of course we will take it! Served perfectly with it’s interior still pink, it was more than just a dish, it was a whole platter of food. The pork was juicy, peaches tangy, and the corn wonderfully charred. Everyone at the table agreed, this was the best pork we ever had.
We also ordered a number of other shareable dishes including Chang’s famous Bao Buns. Filled with thick slices of succulent pork belly, hoisin sauce, fresh pickled cucumbers (namasu style), and scallions. These buns did not dissapoint. They were so good, we devoured them before I could get a photo. For the vegetarians dining with us, there were also bao buns filled with sautéed mushrooms (pictured below). This must have been just as delicious since they were eaten just as quickly.
The Wagyu Tataki was another standout plate with thin slices of raw Wagyu beef, sweet grapes, and mitsuba leaves in a matsutake mushroom dashi broth that was poured over the dish at the table. It was a delicious and playful dish that was perfectly balanced.
One of the most surprising dishes was the Spicy Pork Sausage with Rice Cakes. This delightfully fiery dish was not at all what I expected with chewy, almost mochi-like rice cake pieces topped with crunchy fried shallots. If you can handle the heat this dish is sure to please.
And the best part, the dishes were cooked by David Chang himself. Right?
After sneaking peeks in the open kitchen and taking photos like a stalking fan, the waiter informed me that it was actually not David Chang cooking, but a look alike sous chef named Nick. However I’m not entirely convinced and sort of think it was a cover up to avoid fanatic eaters like me from hovering around the open kitchen. Either way, the food was delicious. But can you really look at this photo and tell me this doesn’t look a bit like David Chang?