Saturday, February 03, 2007

Momofuku Noodle Bar
This is going to be my last Manhattan post for a while. However, as I will be spending my entire summer there, I foresee a backlog of New York posts to come. After the Grimaldi's excursion, we headed back to lower Manhattan, and decided we wanted some warm and hearty grub, sans reservations. And since all our structured plans revolve around food, we decided to hang around the East Village until we got hungry again. Of course, that doesn't take much work--we're bottomless pits.

I have been looking to try Momofuku for a while now; it's received quite a bit of press about its noodles and more importantly, the Berkshire pork buns. You can't go wrong with pork buns. Unless you're kosher.

It was a rainy Sunday night, and we find ourselves waiting inside the very narrow restaurant. It's a minimalist space, covered in light wood. The main attraction is the kitchen, along which patrons sit, uncomfortably, at the bar. Getting to the bathroom is nearly a BMI test, as you slide along the little space between the wall and customers.


Roasted Rice Cakes - roasted onion, spicy chili pepper sauce 8

We started off with some rice cakes, which resembled the popular dim sum item, XO-sauce roasted rice rolls. These rice "cakes" are similarly pan-fried and mixed with sauce. However, these were slathered in an overwhelmingly sweet, rather simple variation of hoisin sauce. I got tired after them after around 3 rolls.

Steamed Berkshire pork buns

I was hoping that we would fare better with the signature pork buns. Unsesasoned pork belly comes sandwiched with cucumber slices and a dollop of hoisin sauce inside a steamed sweet bun. Honestly now, what is the big deal? Basically, you derive all your taste sensation from the pork fat. I was expecting something like delicately seasoned and jerked pork. The pork belly thing has been a recent trend to reach the mass Western palate, so I guess people are still enamored. Hurrah for groupthink.

Momofuku Ramen - Berkshire pork combo, poached egg

"Almost in atonement, the toppings are conspicuously fresh and nourishing—the chopped scallions and slivered snow peas, the chewy preserved bamboo shoots, the optional (but highly recommended) Greenmarket corn, briefly sautéed and still crunchy, the delicate sheet of nori propped on the rim. Sure, the noodles could be a little firmer. But there’s even a bit of performance art, as a cook gingerly cracks a slow-poached egg and its golden yolk oozes at the prod of a chopstick over the the whole glorious affair."- NYMag

I beg to differ. The noodles do in fact need to be firmer. My noodles arrived limp, in a one-dimensional broth that lacked depth. Even this could not be reconciled by the toppings, which I did end up enjoying. The non-pork belly shreds were well-seasoned and tender, and the poached egg was a fine one. Though when I prodded it, it wasn't as glorious an affair as one would expect (have you ever read a more embellished review?).

Momofuku somen - chilled dipping borth, shredded Berkshire pork

Jean ordered this cold somen, which was reported to be submar. Again, the broth was lacking dimension; and its being cold just made it a more abysmal affair.

My experience at Momofuku was an utterly lackluster one. I really wonder what the reviewers were eating.

163 First Avenue



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a sophisticated sommelier who works at a 5 diamond restaurant in NYC. I have many boar heads tacked on my wall as proof of my success. They were awarded to me by the NRA for outstanding service.

Your mouth must be naturally studded with porcupine quills that force you to endure pain during every gastronomic experience, including your experience at Momofuku which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you had any sense of sophistication, you would realize that the underside of pigs are not meant to ooze with taste. I can only imagine what kind of obese women you are, sitting at home gorging yourself on salted pork bellies and jarred pig feet. They are, in fact, a lifeless amoeba’s of fat that must be brought to life with subtle additions. This is exactly what Momofuku accomplishes.

2/04/2007 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you truly are an obese woman with the worst taste in food known to man. you must have failed that BMI test miserably at momofuku.


2/04/2007 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah men


2/05/2007 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they didn't source their noodle from the right place that's why there is little can be done to it. u should try Minca. On a good day, u could have the closest thing to the Tokyo ones in this town. Pork belly buns are really roadside food in korea and northeast china, though each joint got its own secret receipts.

7/28/2007 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I read, the more glaringly obvious it becomes that you haven't the faintest clue what superior food is. Perhaps the McDonald's beat is better suited for the unsophisticated palate which is yours.

Chef Johns

I can only imagine what kind of obese women you are, sitting at home gorging yourself on salted pork bellies and jarred pig feet. They are, in fact, a lifeless amoeba’s of fat that must be brought to life with subtle additions. This is exactly what Momofuku accomplishes.

8/07/2007 10:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mr. Sommelier and Chef Johns obviously lacks the judgement for Asian cuisine. Having eaten authentic Chinese and Japanese food while growing up, I can say for a fact that the food at Momofuku isn't all that spectacular. My noodle soup was extremely salty and similar to what Jen wrote - it lacks depth; there's no umami taste to it.

10/02/2008 9:28 AM  

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