163 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
If I lived in Manhattan, I would be a regular at this place.
I was so jealous when the twenty-something guy next to us told us that he comes several times a week to eat here. We were inquiring about his bowl of stocky rice noodles, which we couldn't find on the menu. (Note: the food is ten times better looking and far less yellow than these photos suggest.)
What I love about Momofuku Ssam Bar, where I went last year and this place--Momofuku Noodlebar, is how understated they are. Both are situated in Lower East Side neighborhoods that don't often make tourists' lists. Maybe it's because there is too much graffiti around or not enough glitter. In any case, both restaurants are quite easy to walk past without noticing. Yet, the food is out of this world.
Sitting at the bar at Momofuku Noodlebar, I felt very much at home, even though I had never been there before. It was so casual in a swanky New Yorker kind of way. The pierced servers were in t-shirts and jeans--the most casually dressed people in the restaurant. Yet they knew everything about the food they were serving as evidenced by their ability to make specific recommendations and have personal favorites for every section on the menu. There was one server with glasses who looked more like a computer geek than a singer in garage band, but he knew his menu too, and was very pleasant.
During the trip, I also checked out the Momofuku Milk Bar, in Midtown. Having flipped for Momofuku Ssam bar last year, I was embracing everything David Chang and was so taken by these milk bars. But I am done with them now. The sweets are made from corn syrup and PHOs which I avoid, if I know they are in there. The sweets are also cloyingly sweet for me. But, I do have to go back once more at least to try Crack Pie.
|Famous pork bellydumplings|
Very possibly I would run from the restaurants if I knew what the ingredients of those sauces and dressings were. But Momofuku doesn't list ingredients, and I will happily suspend my puritan ways for experiences like the kind it offers.
|Heirloom tomato salad|
Well, as long as David Chang's empire in Manhattan continues to grow, there will be more trips I will have to make to the Big Apple.