Momofuku Ssam Bar
Momofuku Ssam is like Fatty Crab to me: a restaurant I’ve always been reluctant to visit even though I know I would love the food, so I wait a million years, then end up going for lunch which isn’t even their raison d’etre. This is probably more egregious at Momofuku since the day and night menus are well…like…you know.
It’s kind of annoying that up until 2004, James spent nearly a decade living a block from where Ssam Bar (and that damn mob scene Trader Joe’s) now exist. If I only had to meander from Third Avenue to Second, it wouldn’t have taken me over a year to stop by. But the neighborhood is ick. Why live on a makeshift NYC campus when you can move to Brooklyn and experience all the same obnoxious kids ten years later after they’ve bought condos and procreated?
But yes, the food: my pork belly buns were fairly amazing, and I absolutely dig the pickle mania that has swept foodie-dom even if I hate the word foodie. The buns and ssams were as I’d expected, but I hadn’t anticipated the sides.
I loved my fried cauliflower dressed (heavily) with olive oil, fish sauce, chiles and mint. I might try reproducing this for Thanksgiving. It’s one of those dishes where people who think they hate fish sauce wouldn’t necessarily realize that’s what they were eating unless someone told them. The kimchi’d apples and bacon mix I sampled were also a mishmash that worked.
Sure, I’d like to try the country ham, banh mi or wrangle enough people together for the pork butt, but there’s no telling when that will actually happen. It’s much more likely that I’ll eschew my typical wait and see approach and try upcoming Momofuku Ko first.
Momofuku Ssam Bar * 207 Second Ave., New York, NY