We didn't really like David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar as much but we do like the food at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The restaurant's concept is more like a Tapas Bar, and the main focus of the restaurant's interior is the bar and the open kitchen. We have been to the restaurant once and were instantly addicted to the Steamed Bun with Pork Belly with Hoisin sauce + pickled cucumber. It reminds us of the pork belly steamed buns we eat back in Malaysia. Yesterday we went there with a bunch of friends and tried the Country Ham, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Ribs stew and they were delicious. The kitchen closes around 1.50am, so if you are looking for a late night meal, this is definitely the place to go.
Gan: David Chang is a rising Korean American chef in the NYC restaurant scene. He's opened various restaurants using the Momofuku name (Momofuku Noodle Bar + Momofuku Ssam Bar). We've been to both of them. He truly bleeds NYC with his bold take on ethnic cuisine with some localization to suit the palate. Though we don't quite agree or enjoy his ramen (from Momofuku Noodle Bar), it's always refreshing and there's a certain respect that we always have for chefs who challenges the status quo but yet, still have a respect for tradition. In a way, he reminds me a lot of Morimoto of the Nobu fame and his current Morimoto line of restaurants. Momofuku Ssam Bar is really a great place for food tasting with small little dishes which goes very well with wine. It has a feeling of being a wine bar with tapas dishes. The dishes can be a hit and run as with many restaurants that takes risk with their dishes. Overall, they have very memorable dishes, just like their famous steam pork bun (which has become one of my little penchant).
Gan: As Nick mentioned, the enjoyment of the food is also correlated to the company you have. Of course, having an empty stomach after a party at close to 2am in the morning helps as well.
Gan: Soaked in fish sauce.. very vietnamese.
Ribs stew - tasted like Ponteh, a Malaysian baba nyonya dish
Gan: Quite interesting. Ponteh is a uniquely Peranakan food (from the Malacca straits - our hometown). The taste is quite similar to that (the broth/sauce) with the strong fermented bean sauce. I was chatting with Nick that sometimes, chefs get influenced by the food they ate when they travel and sometimes incorporate them into their dish (whether it's done on a subconscious level or not). Hmm.. I wonder if David Chang had been to Melaka before.
The steamed bun with pork belly is so heavenly. Juicy and fatty, I can eat this everyday!
Gan: I sometimes have the craving for this, even in my dreams! In Hokkien/Teochew food, it's a very common dish. I remembered an old teochew restaurant in Melaka (Teo Soon Long) which serves it best. Maybe we should make a review of that the next time we visit home. I can see the Korean influence here as the cucumber seems to be the Korean pickled cucumber which is very common in their banchan/panchan dish.