Announcement

This site will be migrating to a new address.
Please visit me at @Køkken and change your subscription to this blog to my RSS Feed

You Will Be Redirected!

Please do not leave any more messages on this blog. I will not be publishing or responding to any more comments left here. You will be automatically redirected to http://www.atkokken.com All posts have been migrated. You will be able to locate any posts by performing a quick search at my new site. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mixed Feelings About Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku Restaurant 2

Momofuku Kitchen 1

Momofuku Kitchen 3

Momofuku Kitchen2

Shrimp Bun

Momofuku Ramen

Yuzu Palmer

Apple Crumble Truffles

Wide awake at 3am in the morning in New York, I invite you to relive my first visit to the famous Momofuku Noodles Bar... Sit with me at the bar counter for a view of the kitchen and the way the chefs and cooks work behind the counter...

I have to admit my first exposure to Momofuku was through David Chang's cookbook. Despite seeing various creations from his cookbook in the Food Blogosphere, I was hesitant to get the cookbook. As I browsed the book a couple of times at the bookshop, I had the impression that the recipes were... difficult. However, eventually I did succumb to it  3 weeks ago when I decided to order it from Book Depository. It is all just good timing that I should be in New York for more than 2 weeks and when I touched down over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had really wanted to make this my first meal in New York.

The Momofuku Noodle Bar, is American Korean Chef, David Chang's first restaurant in New York. This was where the Ramen fad started in New York and was also the place that made the pork belly buns so famous. Fronted by a simple facade, the restuarant does not look at all eye-catching from the outside. The interior was simple but stylish with a layout that induces a quick meal - definitely not meant to be a cosy place to linger.

I had the good fortune to sit at the kitchen counter, which gave me a good view of the bustle in the kitchen. The casually dressed waiting staff (baseball cap, T-shirt & jeans) constrasted oddly with the chefs and cooks who were all dressed in their smart white chef coats. As I watched the chef work deftly behind the counter at plating the dishes with a sprinkling of lotus seed shavings and a quinelle of siphoned cream.... I started to wonder if I am in for hype or substance.

Standing next to me at the counter, a guy wearing a base ball cap, wielded his authority over the orders as he meticulously inspected and wiped away any unsightly smudges on each plate before they were sent out to the diners. I cringed inwardly when I saw him reject 3 orders of Shitake mushroom buns from the cook... the first one for not having enough gravy, the second when 2 pieces of mushrooms had accidentally landed on the top of the buns, instead of in between the buns and the third when the amount of mushroom filling was unequal for the two buns on the plate. All three plates were chucked into the dumpster.

I ordered the Yuzu Palmer which was a Yuzu flavoured slushie spiked with Shoju (Japanese rice wine). It was refreshing and I knew that anything with Yuzu would have pleased me. For starters, I deliberated whether I should order the famous pork belly buns (our kong ba bao). I have never been a great fan of fatty pork belly and I couldn't help but notice that their pork belly strip was very light in colour compared to the heavily braised versions we have back home. In the end, I chose to have the shrimp buns which was absolutely delicious. The individual shrimps were pressed together to form a crunchy patty. Served with a tangy sauce on the white buns, it was my favourite dish of the meal. I wonder if the recipe is in the cookbook- I would love to replicate this at the first possible chance available.

The Momofuku Ramen was served with 2 strips of pork belly, shredded pork and a poached egg. The egg was poached perfectly but I think it lacked the bite of the typical Ramen Onsen egg (hard boiled egg white with runny egg yolk). Once poked, the whole poached egg would integrate into the soup base. The shredded pork was salty and flavourful, a great compliment to the noodles. The pork belly, strips was indeed well prepared. The layers of fat and pork was clearly visible and the whole combination of fat and lean was delicately balanced. However, I have to admit that this is not a Ramen that would get me excited. It was not robust enough to share a place with the flavourful pork broth ramen neither is it good enough to win a seat with some of the most delicate shio ramen I have tasted in Japan. At best, I would classify it as a tasty watered down Americanised Ramen.

I chose to finish off the meal with the apple crumble truffles which is essentially an apple crumble cake served in the form of a round ball. It is moist and delicious but somewhat of an odd item for the primarily asian fusion spread.

Judging from the waiting crowd, Momofuku undoubtedly has its following but I have mixed feelings about my first experience there. The scene in the kitchen excited me but it also made me wonder if they have gotten a tad too pretentious - espcially when I noted with dismay that the bowl in which they served my ramen had a chipped rim. This jarred with the way they chucked out three portions of shitake mushroom buns. The items on the menu are definitely not wallet friendly. I paid almost US$50 for this supposedly humble lunch. So, is Momofuku for real or is it a Ramen joint that is trying to behave like a 3 star restuarant? I am tempted to go back again to find out.

26 comments:

grub said...

oooh the famous momofuku noodle bar is conquered! i must say the food looks delicious though i'm not a fan of pork belly myself. haha and i initially thought the yuzu and shoju drink was a coke slushie :P

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

:) ... I like the way you put it..'conquered'!

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Wow, USD$50 for that is definitely steep for casual Japanese cuisine. But again, it's NYC & it's a famous restaurant with waiting crowd. If you ever go California Bay Area, will recommend you try out this Orenchi Raman Restaurant... It is the best I had so far in America.

ICook4Fun said...

Shirley, you are in New York now? If I know I would have try to meet up with you since I was there yesterday. When will you be leaving? Yea the famous Momofuku restaurant. I have yet to try the food there.

Maria @ Scandi Foodie said...

Hmm, I generally steer clear from places that get too much hype. Apparently this guy is coming to Sydney too, although I don't know what kind of a restaurant he is opening here. At least you've been and you can cross that off your list! ;-)

Esther said...

The white buns look so good. I can't believe how they can just throw away perfectly fine food like that though. There are so many people in this world who are starving, can't they keep the food and donate it to a homeless shelter or something instead? Sorry, I had to rant about that. But otherwise, this noodle bar sounds like a great place to eat lunch, if you're up to having a pricy lunch. :)

tigerfish said...

Never tried it when I was in NY. But I think it might be too pretentious - mostly Americanized Chinese food. :(
I prefer my ramen more brothy than that, definitely. How about ramen at Santouku ? I just had mine in California and I found out there is one in Singapore @ Eu Tong Sen too.

Cherry On A Cake said...

thats a lot of money for ramen. but at least you have been there n done it! :)

penny aka jeroxie said...

I have heard so many good things and they are opening up in Sydney as well. But if the ramen is really good, then it is worth it. Cheaper than flying to Japan!

Lisa H. said...

oohhh.. its a bit 'steep' for the humble lunch... I guess its the 'craze'
Thanks for sharing...

Angie's Recipes said...

$50...mmmm...that's pricey. At least, the food looks good.

Mei Teng said...

The restaurant takes QC and presentation seriously eh. But that's good.

Trissa said...

The prawn buns certainly look good! I had the chicken wings while I was there. Is that still on the menu?? Btw Dan is in NYC now. I wonder if you'll bump into him in the streets!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Great review and thanks for the honesty. Sorry it wasn't all pluses, but I'm glad you got to experience it and the rest of NY.

Jared said...

you can get way better ramen in singapore. the noodles there are way over hyped. even ippudo NYC doesn't stand a chance against their japanese counterpart. $50 dollars for lunch, yikes

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Jared- yes, I totally agree. I have eaten at ippudo in Tokyo many times and do notice that even their singapore branch is not quite the same. I am actually keen to check out their new York store, any way.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@trissa, yes the chicken wings are still there but I can't eat so much at one seating:)... wow that's a long trip for Dan!

eataduckimust said...

i totally understand the mixed sentiment. it's hard finding ramen that takes you back to Japan, so I stick to places that make it extremely authentic (and there are so few of those). Plus is there any reason I need to pay $15+ for non-authentic ramen? i'm kind of over the whole over-priced asian-fusion places. i'm almost surprised you want to go back again to find out :)

though when we were in NYC, we did get to go to Milk Bar and liked his all american desserts.

-alice

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@Alice, yes I agree with you but I also can't get over the fact that DC is an influential chef and that I should not be too quick to strike them out with one visit... Let's see if I have time to eat there again...

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I loved this vividly descriptive and honest account Shirley! :D

Jo said...

I think I'll still stick with my SGD15 ramen in Singapore. Call me a "cheapskate" :P

Chuzai Living said...

Your photos are gorgeous! I love that you also love to travel. Let me know if you ever come visit Indonesia! I can give you some advice on where to go. :) I'm a big fan of Danish design. The ramen photo you took is mouth watering. I love Yuzu, too. I would love to have that drink you had...

Joanne said...

I have only been to Milk Bar, not momofuku itself and I have to say that if you are still in NYC, then you NEED to visit Milk Bar! Their cereal milk ice cream is to die for!

Rasa Malaysia said...

Love your review, most people I know who had tried said the same thing. I think it's more than hype than real flavor. You could probably get better ramen at a true Japanese-run Ramen place. ;)

Clare @ Mrs Multitasker said...

Oh Shirley you went to Momofuku I'm so jealous! And yes the recipes are NOT easy! But very good.

I see you've been missing for a little while too =) Hope you've had a wonderful december. Blessed Christmas!

zenchef said...

I agree with you regarding Momofuku, for me it's not really worth the hype. I visited on three occasions and on all three occasions i left with mixed feelings. Thanks for sharing your experience.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails