Recently, I met my friend Matt for dinner at Momofuku Ssäm, the East Village spot that's famous for its bulky Korean burritos. A few days later, he sent me an email that included this suggestion for my next post:
"Momofuku Ssäm is a great East Village restaurant with an eclectic pan Asian bent. It is so good that I went twice in the last week. The first time I went, I was so enthralled with my company, who was like a movie star with his charisma. I had to go back a second time to make sure that I enjoyed the evening so much because of the food, or because of Matthew, my long ago friend from high school who makes every restaurant outing exceptional."
You see, that's one thing I love about my blog. Not only are many of my friends faithful readers, but they really, really like when they get to be in it.
To be honest, I wasn't even planning on writing about Momofuku Ssäm. I'd already read about it in a bunch of other food blogs, and as I've mentioned before, my apartment renovation is like another full-time job. Which is why I've been neglecting my poor little piglet for the past few weeks. And if it wasn't for friends like Matt, it might have become full-blown abandonment (this month at least).
So, maybe, just maybe, some of you haven't heard about Momofuku Ssäm. And if you haven't, let me tell you that it's addictively good. Unfortunately, my dinner there with Matt wasn't exactly cheap, but when I returned on a Saturday afternoon (en route to Gringer and Son's where I fell in love with my soon-to-be new stove!), Daniel and I discovered that the Chipotle-style counter service is much more wallet-friendly.
When Matt and I were there, we shared four different dishes. We started with the hamachi with edamame, horseradish, pea leaves and a sprinkling of crunchy chickpea pellets. Next came the Brussels sprouts which are roasted till they're nice and brown, then doused with olive oil and tiny rounds of red pepper. They were crackly, blazing little bites and we had no trouble devouring almost all of them.
We also ordered the steamed buns, two slider-sized squishy pockets stuffed with sweet and tender Berkshire pork that were as much fun to hold as they were to eat. And for our entree, we split the Niku-man ssäm which was bulging with Berkshire pork, rice, a spicy slaw and red kimchee puree. I didn't think I could love anything more than a big, Mexican burrito, but a ssäm, with all its different textures, from the crunchy slaw to the pickled cabbage, to the melt-in-your-mouth meat, took my love of stuffed tortillas to a whole new level.
Since I didn't bring my camera along to our dinner, Matt took some pics with my cell phone -- and very good ones, I'll say -- but lo and behold, I accidentally deleted them the next day. Daniel and I snapped a few more when we were there, though on a Saturday afternoon, there's more of a fast-food feel, with organic chicken and pork of course.
We were pressed for time that day, so although the quick counter service was just what we needed, I still struggled with my order. I knew I wanted a chicken ssäm, but had no idea which of the 10 extras would taste best with it. So I basically eeny meeny miney moed my way through and had it stuffed with rice, spicy slaw, pickled shitake mushrooms, roasted onions and white kimchee puree. And, just as I had hoped, it was so so good.
207 Second Avenue