Momofuku Ssäm Bar for lunch
A few weekends ago, I’ve went to brunch with Robyn, Kåre, Alex, and K at Dumont Burger (that’s their burger on the photo above) a few weekends ago (click here for my photo set) I’m not writing about them since it’s covered by Robyn. (To keep it short and sweet about the burger, the beef patty is tasty but the ciabatta bun ain’t working for me.)
During brunch, Robyn and K has spoken about the awesomeness of Momofuku Ssäm Bar‘s prix fixe lunch. Thinking about it, it’s been about a year since I’ve eaten there and thought it’s about time to haul my butt from the Upper East Side from work and eat there for lunch.
Arriving there around 12 PM, the place is a lot more calmer compared to what I remembered during the evenings when I ate there for dinner. I grabbed a seat at the bar and practically started to order after sitting down for a few minutes.
Curious about the root beer menu after talking to one of the guys working at the bar, I’ve ordered Sprecher‘s root beer since I heard it’s delicious and he told me that it’s very smooth. What sort of surprised me was the fact that it’s served in a Mason jar – how cute. But in terms of the actual root beer, it was indeed awesome as I’ve heard. It’s nicely spiced, smooth and drinking a whole bottle by is sort of a feat for me (it’s like 14 ounces) to finish this in one sitting. It’s best to share it with someone else unless you’re really parched.
Starting off my lunch was the apple kimchi salad. I remembered eating this before and I think it tasted as good as ever. The crisp, sweet, pickled yet spicy honeycrisp apples worked well with the tangy, creamy maple labne (thick yogurt). The salty, smoky, and crisp slices of bacon added onto the crisp texture and added the lovely bacon-y pork flavor. Mmmm…
I added an additional course, Satur Farms fried brussels sprouts to my lunch. I can’t help it since I love their version of brussels sprouts. What is there not to love about it? It’s deep fried, plays with the salty (from the fish sauce), bitter and sweet (from the cooked/fried brussels sprouts), crunchy (from the puffed rice) and it sort of has a refreshing zing at the end from eating the herbs sprinkled on top. I forgot the name of it unfortunately but it tasted like cilantro but not as piquant.
By the time I gotten my spicy rice cakes, I was feeling full. I have to try it after Robyn telling me her love for it. I don’t know if they made it hotter than what she had or they made it spicier but my mouth and esophagus felt the slow burn of chilies when I swallowed the rice cakes or practically anything from this dish. Don’t get me wrong everything was tasty – the chewy (fried?) rice cakes, sweet fried shallots, and the minced pork meat. But OH GOD, I thought I was my stomach wall was going to singe. The server warned me that this dish is very spicy but I didn’t expect it to be this hot. I stopped myself from eating this dish halfway and told them to wrap it up for me. I’ll save it for a chile loving friend of mine.
After waving the white flag on the rice cake dish, I drank as much water I can to calm down the fires burning in my stomach. Eventually, my dessert, PB&J was set before me. This is basically a saltine panna cotta set on top of a disc of peanut crunch, sauced with concord grapes. I do like this dessert, as it plays on the nostalgic flavor combination of peanut butter and jelly, but the panna cotta was very salty if it’s eaten on its own. Come to think about it, even when I had a bite with each element on it, the salty zing still remains in the background.
In all, this lunch was relatively a bargain compared to what I remembered spending on dinner (except for the added root beer and brussels sprouts) and it’s a lot less hectic. I just wished my tolerance for heat was a bit higher.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Avenue (on 13th Street)
New York, NY 10003 (map)