Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Momofuku Ssam & Milk Bar

David Chang's bo ssam

TL;DR: Grab at least 7 friends and book the sweet and tender slow cooked bo ssam for your next special occasion! 

Booking brunch is usually a hassle as it is, but booking a Mother's Day brunch is always extra challenging. You want to find a place that can comfortably accommodate your entire party, somewhere that is family appropriate, and of course you want something special because it's Mother's Day. After hours of research of all the different possible brunch options in Manhattan and scanning through menu after menu of special prix fixes, I just was not too impressed. Last year we were at Aquavit, so that's a pretty hard act to follow. However, I noticed that Momofuku Ssam just recently started serving brunch, and I figured their bo ssam would be the perfect balance of novelty and sharability, so I went through their unnecessarily complicated sign-in for a reservation system and booked a bo ssam for Mother's Day. 

Before our bo ssam feast, we started the meal with several plates to share: 
  • fresh uni over warm soft tofu - The uni was fresh, but the warm soft tofu threw me off. I would have preferred it served over either cold tofu or warm scrambled egg whites. 
  • dry aged sirloin tartare - This was a delicious beef tartare paired wonderfully with buttermilk. 
  • grilled asparagus with brown butter and bone marrow - Though I couldn't tell if there was actually bone marrow, the brown butter spread was decadent. 
  • smoked salmon buns - Extremely picturesque grilled sesame buns with smoked salmon and a bit of egg salad. Great breakfast alternative! 
  • rotisserie duck over rice with chive pancake - The duck was undoubtedly tender, but the fragrant oiled rice was unfortunately a tad bit too wet. I'm very picky with my rice texture. Also, the chive pancake wasn't pan fried enough! It was neither flaky not aromatic. 
  • spicy pork sausage with rice cakes  - This was a very fancy ddukbokki! The dduk (rice cake) was crispy and fried on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. Exactly the way it should be. 

And we ate every bit of that before our bo ssam even arrived to the table! By now you must be wondering what in the world a bo ssam actually is. Ssam means wrap, which is commonly used in the form of lettuce at Korean restaurants. The bo is the 8lb pork butt that is served whole at your table accompanied with a dozen oysters, white rice, kim chi, and Cantonese ginger and scallion sauce. The pork butt was so tender that it easily came apart with tongs or chopsticks. It was extremely flavorful and clearly slow cooked for many hours in brown sugar and more sugar. I didn't really get the oysters, but they are surprisingly delicious when eaten with kim chi! All I know is that I ate countless number of bibb lettuce ssams with spoonfuls of jasmine rice (interesting choice) and chunks of fatty pork butt topped with pureed kim chi. Thumbs up, David Chang. 

We skipped dessert at the restaurant and went across the street to Momofuku Milk Bar. As a family, we shared slices of crack pie (which is again caramelized brown sugary goodness), candy bar pie (highly recommended for peanut butter lovers), and the grasshopper pie (eh, not memorable). I remember having the cake balls before, but found them way too sweet, so we skipped those. We also ordered a few cereal milk soft serves with their very salty crush cornflake topping. Cereal milk is the remaining milk when you soak your favorite sweet cereal in it. I don't know what it was, but the cereal milk soft serve is just not as good as I remembered it to be. The flavor just felt a bit off. Oh well. Just pie and maybe cookies next time. And a cute tote bag. 

cold uni on warm tofu

aged sirloin tartare

grilled asparagus with brown butter

smoked salmon buns

rotisserie duck on rice with chive pancake

spicy pork sausage with rice cake

bib lettuce

oysters and pork butt

oyster with Napa cabbage kim chi

cereal milk soft serve with crushed cornflakes

momofuku ssam bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

momofuku milk bar 
251 E 13th Street
New York, NY 

1 comment:

  1. Yum! I went to Momofuku Ssam Bar recently too and loved it. Though I really wish I grabbed dessert at the milk bar too after reading this post. That soft serve looks to die for!