Ssam Really Good Food

Pdho and I wanted to squeeze in some good eats while we were in NYC for a friend’s wedding and kicking off our fall vacation. Many emails later, we had finally agreed on one of CK’s many, many suggestions, Momofuko Ssam Bar, for brunch on Saturday with CK, his sister and my friend SC. I have been to Momofuko Noodle Bar which I found to be pretty good, but I remember thinking it was more on the expensive side. I’ve tried to get reservations at Momofuko Ko (which is his high-end fine dining restaurant), but that has never been successful. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to checking out another one of David Chang’s empire.

By the time we got to the restaurant, CK and his sister were already waiting at Milk Bar and had ordered us some pork buns. These are essentially the white steamed buns that you normally eat with peking duck. However, instead of peking duck, it is braised pork belly with scallions and hoisin sauce. Wow! They were very delicious. The pork belly is sooooooo fatty though. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit guilty after finishing my bun off. Unfortunately, we were so quick to chow down our bun, we didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it. 😦
Sadly, we didn’t think to take any pictures until we nearly finished off the yellowtail sashimi dish. It was really nice. I liked the pine nuts and seaweed flakes sprinkled on top. It really added some extra flavor to the already fine tasting hamachi.
This next dish was really amazing. It was Hawthorne Valley Buttermilk served in a fuji apple dashi with honey locust herbs and pine nuts. It definitely looked very pretty and I would say more pleasing to look at than to eat since it literally looked like a bouquet of flowers. However, it tasted amazing!!! The buttermilk was made into a tofu-like consistency, and the dashi soup was so delicious. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but the flavors were so unique. This definitely has to be one of the most creative and delicious tasting single dishes I’ve ever had.
This next dish was eggs benedict with foie gras hollandaise. I only tried a little bit of this, but it was quite rich… very heavy with the foie gras hollandaise. I think Pdho really liked it, but I felt like it was clogging up my arteries too much for me to try more than a small bite.
The Angus Hanger Steak was from Creekstone Farm in Kentucky. I am not sure why restaurants do that nowadays. I guess farms are starting to become so famous that maybe placing their names on menus provides more incentive to customers. I’m not so sure, but like Niman Ranch is huge one for beef that I see ALL the time. Anyways, the steak was prepared with tarragon, manchego, and fingerling potatoes. It was good but nothing really spectacular.
Branzini is a white fish of some sort. It’s also known as a the Mediterranean seabass, so it has a firm, flaky quality to the meat, kind of like swordfish. It was a little bit more on the dry side, so it wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite dishes, but I think the flavors of the tomatillos, jicama, and pepitas went very well with the fish which was kind of bland on its own.
It was really good that we ordered some vegetables to balance out the meal. The Market Greens with XO Sauce was very good. I really liked the XO sauce. It’s a chili garlic based sauce made with dried scallops and shrimps. It gave a nice seafoody-flavor to the vegies. Yummy!
The last dish was Spicy Rice Cakes served with pork sausage, chinese broccoli and crispy shallots. This is basically a spin on the Korean Do Bok Ki. I’m not sure if I spelled it right. Anyways, this dish was pretty darn spicy, but I think the spiciness pork really helped balance the starchiness of the rice cake. It also had a little bit of a crunchy texture which I think is different from the traditional Korean kind. I liked that little bit of crunch and it helped make the dish a winner for me.
I think it’s a well-known fact that David Chang does not cater to vegetarians. After some vegetarian threatened to sue because she had meat-infused broth in a supposedly vegetarian noodle dish, he removed it from his menu and has created a reputation for being unfriendly to vegetarians. I felt bad for my friend SC, but I think she was able to eat some of the dishes. I have to say that there is something to David Chang. His food is very well-prepared, and he’s done a very good job at refining some basic Asian/Korean dishes. I liked it overall, and it intrigues me to one day check out Momofuko Ko.

PAFO Ratings for Ssam Bar:

Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 ½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars

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