Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Momofuku Noodle Bar

I have to admit it; once we decided to head to NYC, I was super excited about finally being able to visit Momofuku having heard and read so many good things about it. I am also a dedicated reader of Lucky Peach and have a lot of time for David Chang based on the quality of the writing in the mag which he was part responsible for creating. He's also got the seal of approval from Mr Bourdain and in my experience, that's a reliable indication that the food will be OK.

My friend Norie had managed to secure us reservations at Momofuku Noodle Bar to try their fried chicken dinner, as well as at Ssäm bar for the bo ssäm dinner. After a little confusion, we ended up trying the fried chicken and giving up on the bo ssäm dinner (as much of a fan as I am, I figured 2 meals in one week at David Chang restos was a bit much). The blurb says that the dinner is enough to feed 4-8 people; we managed to get a party of 6 and still had chicken left over!!! The verdict? Pretty disappointing - both JD and I were left wondering what on earth the hype is all about? In addition to the dinner, I also ordered extra portions of the famous pork buns and a bowl of ginger scallion noodles (read about these in the cookbook and they sounded pretty good). Not only was it disappointing but the food wasn't even just OK :(
My GIANT can of Asahi - a 1 litre can!!

Pork belly buns - Chinese aromatic crispy duck with a twist. The reason why the original version works so well is the great combination of flavours and textures coming from rich  meaty duck, sweet smoky hoisin sauce, thin starchy pancake, crunchy cucumber and refreshing tangy scallions. This version is a mouthful of squishy mush with no distinguishing flavours or textures :(

Ginger scallion noodles - it was too hot for a bowl of ramen soup so figured I would try these instead. I am guessing that the ginger scallion flavour is influenced by the ginger scallion oil one usually gets with 白切雞. There was no punch of flavour coming from the ginger scallion noodles - how hard can it be? I usually make mine up by eye!! (ginger, scallion, salt, soy sauce and hot oil) My guess is that the oil was not hot enough to bring out the flavours of the components. We all know about David Chang heading off to Japan to learn the intricacies of making ramen; can't say I am convinced sadly. The stuff on the bottom right hand corner looks like white kimchi (recipe in Issue 2 of Lucky Peach which I was looking forward to trying out. My friend Won had warned me not to bother; at the time, I scoffed when he told me. I am sorry to say but Won was right, don't bother!)

Fried chicken dinner - one half Southern style, the other half Korean style and served sauces and saw veg. I actually preferred the Southern style even though it was over fried and on the dry side. The Korean style had a nice kick to it but had too much of a greasy aftertaste for my liking. 
As expected, Momofuku was heaving with people and this was the queue when we were leaving!

I really wanted to like Momofuku but I didn't (we finished the meal by trying some strawberry lemon cake truffles; read sweet sickly strawberry lemon cake pops, gross!); the only positive thing I can say is that I am glad I got the chance to try it and many thanks to Norie for organising :)

I still remained baffled by the popularity of the place??? (Norie's sis later remarked it was Asian food for white folk. JD disagrees and said the food is just poor which I concur) I will continue to read Lucky Peach tho.....don't believe the hype, I guess...

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