Two weeks ago, Helen and I attended an event at Bryant Park where we sampled Canadian ice wine and two different hors d’ouevrs. Obviously, this didn’t make us full and the food was disappointing enough that we left under an hour and went to the East Village. Since it was a chilly evening and us being Asian, we craved a bowl of hot soup and noodles, which Helen said, “I want to go to Ippudo.”
By the time we got there around 8:15, it’s already packed – people were waiting by the door and the crowded bar area. I asked one of the hostesses that evening how long was the wait and she said, “an hour, hour and a half at least.” Disgruntled and not willing to wait that long for a bowl of noodles, I told Helen, “Let’s go to Momofuku [Ssäm Bar].” And off we walked.
Despite the fact that this place was packed and buzzing with activity, we were fortunate enough to snag a table a few minutes after we walked in. A four-top just finished and the guy before us didn’t have a complete party, we ended up getting the table. Woot.
Helen urged me to pick something I haven’t eaten yet. (I HAZ INFLUENCE?! Sort of.) Anyway, we’ve started out with charred squid salad with ginger scallion, mizuna, and watermelon radishes. To get an idea of what this tastes like, think mildly spicy kimchi mixed with tender rings of squid and wafer-thin watermelon radishes and piquant mizuna leaves strewn around. Delicious and a great starter to our meat-filled dinner…
What drew us to the crispy pig’s head torchon were the two words: crispy (= fried) and pig (= PORK). And I was loving this offal. Über crisp shell meets tender, fatty, sweet pig’s head meat, topped with a sprinkling of sea salt and quartered pickled onions. The bed of adzuki beans and squirts of mustard surrounding the plate added the earthy depthness to the pork. I think I’m in love…
Then finally, we had the roasted duck breast sitting on top of a small bed of Djion spetzle, brussels sprouts, snowed in Five Spoke cheddar. The breast meat was tender, juicy and has a nice layer of subcutaneous fat but the flavor was a bit lacking. But the savior of this dish was the luscious brick of duck confit that’s found underneath. I would happily kill myself with atherosclerosis just eating that everyday. As for the other parts of the dish, the spatzle was tender with a slight kick of mustard, the brussels sprouts was sweet and added a nice crunch, while the snow of cheddar cheese added some butteriness to the dish.
If you haven’t gotten the hint, I do like Momofuku Ssäm Bar a lot. Hell, I’ll admit I’m going there tomorrow with a friend for lunch just because she never experienced the awesome food there and she wanted to go.