Thursday, April 27, 2006

MOMOFUKU MEANS LUCKY PEACH

Last night I met my friend Matt for dinner at Momofuku in the East Village. To call it a "noodle bar" is a severe underestimation of what this place is all about, but then again, you CAN and SHOULD get heaping portions of noodle soups there.

I have been going to Momofuku since it first opened, and in the year or so of its brief existence chef David Chang has gotten crazy--and well-deserved--press over the place. Last night it was PACKED, and it's just a sliver of a restaurant; patrons sit and eat communally over a blonde wooden bar overlooking a slender, steaming, open kitchen. Matt and I were fortunate enough to be seated right away, across from each other. It was his first time there, so I took the reigns. To be honest, even if it hadn't been his first time there, I probably would've taken the reigns anyway, because I JUST KNOW WHAT TO ORDER. I ALWAYS KNOW WHAT'S GOOD. It's a talent.

If you read any review of Momofuku you'll know to get the Steamed Buns, which come filled with either awesome smoked chicken, shitake mushrooms, or luxuriously fatty Berkshire pork. These buns, pillowy and moist and schmeared with gorgeous hoisin sauce and brightened by pickled cucumber and scallions, are 100% delicious. Matt wanted to get the pork, but I insisted on the chicken. Two reasons: 1) this ain't no ordinary chicken, and 2) I knew we'd be getting TONS O' PORK in our entree, so why blow our wad on it during the appetizer? It's good Matt let me have my way, 'cause he flipped out over the buns and told me he was having a food orgasm. Which made me feel awkward, but only for ten seconds. Because honestly, I understood. You WILL have a food orgasm over these buns! It's IMPOSSIBLE not to! The chicken is smoky and moist and like, not at all poultry-like. In a good way.

Matt's an awesome person to eat with, because, like me, he's up for ordering TWO appetizers! Momofuku's menu changes seasonally, and last night there were some real beauties to choose from. I was thinking, "Do I feel like eating THIS awesome thing, or THAT awesome thing?! WHICH AWESOME THING, WHICH I'M GUARANTEED TO ENJOY, DO I WANT TO PUT IN MY MOUTH?!" Matt and I agreed on the Pea Shoots, which came with rice cakes and lardons and golden slivers of onions. This was SOME dish! The thing about Momofuku is the inherent RICHNESS of its dishes. Everything is SUPER-FLAVOR-INFUSED to the MAXIMUM EXTREME! And it's not overwhelming, either. The Pea Shoots exemplified this; they were so so so good! How do you get something to taste smoky, bacony, oniony AND fresh?! I. DON'T. KNOW. But luckily, David Chang does.

Then it was onto the entrees, which, considering it was Matt's first time, were a no-brainer: Momofuku Ramen. What you get: a GIANT bowl of perfect ramen noodles, floating in a meaty, super-porky stock that tastes as if its been simmering for days. Then there's that Berkshire pork I mentioned earlier: big, fatty slabs of pork belly mingle with tender, shredded shoulder, so you get TWO cuts of meat, TWO kinds of tastes and textures, and A BILLION KINDS of deliciosity! That's NOT a word! Okay, so that's all awesome, but then you ALSO get fresh, bright green peas that burst in your mouth and taste like Spring feels; crisp, paper-thin sheets of dried nori seaweed that faint and soften in the soup; chopped scallions; chewy brown bamboo shoots; and, the final awesome detail, a poached egg that floats and oozes yolk into the broth with one little tap of your chopstick. Matt's mind pretty much exploded over the poached egg. I understood: it's so unexpected and so right on!

Other details: David Chang loves to rock out -- it's his personal ipod providing the music, and last night he was on a Black Crowes kick. Also: it says right there on the menu, "NOT VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY". Which is pretty obvious. I mean, you don't get a stock to taste like that without some meat and bones.

Momofuku is truly good eating, but if you want to do it right it's not cheap. Our bill came to about 70 bucks, including Matt's beer with an owl on its label and my classy glass of sake. Worth it? Totally Totalamente!

5 Comments:

Anonymous JGM said...

your entries where they're not just blatant restaurant reviews are much better. Mentioning the name Matt 1800 times does not make it not just a restaurant/ food review. We want some soul. Some conversation. Some metaphors. THAT'S why we read this blog.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Are you sure "Momofuku" doesn't mean "Mom I know it's trief"

12:43 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

mom, you are hilarious! forgive me!

jgm, you are tough! forgive me!

2:10 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

I loved your personalized review and couldn't agree more. This is one of my favorites as well. Me and my foodie friends are definite fans!

9:59 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

I like memoirs better than typical "foor reviews" We are real people and like to hear about it through a real person's words, not a fancypants journalist. Keep keepin it real. I just went to Ma Peche & Milk Bar last week & had a total mouthgasm over the crack pie! LOL!

1:48 PM  

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