March 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
About a month ago, yours truly got lucky enough to experience the tasting menu and beverage pairing at the newly relocated Momofuku Ko on Extra Place right off the Bowery in the East Village. It’s a much bigger place than the original location, and along with roomier counter space for the diners (Ko is pretty unique in that all seats are at the counter so you can see the cooks preparing the food and even interact with them), there are beautiful glass cases full of hanging meats and all other kinds of ingredients that catch your eye. The restaurant is probably also home to one of the largest works by the artist David Choe, whose gorgeous and frenetic handiwork is sprawled all over the walls.
Right from entering, everyone was super friendly and inviting (shoutout to Su Wong Ruiz who was especially great!), and my dining companion Chris and I even got to make small talk with David Chang himself for a little bit (FYI, he recommends the carbonated cocktails at Booker and Dax if your goal for the night is to get very drunk, very quickly). The menu changes pretty regularly based on the season, so if you get to go, you’ll probably have dishes and pairings totally different from what we did.
Honestly, at this point, I have a hard time remembering the components of each individual dish (many of which were served on beautifully crafted MUD Australia ceramics) but I will say that the major highlights were the madai (super clean and refreshing); the sunchoke (which was very meaty and unctuous despite being all vegetable); the gorgeous, gorgeous uni with chickpea and hozon (as soon as Momofuku starts selling bottles of this stuff, I will be hoarding it) covered in olive oil (when I tasted this dish, I almost cried it was so delicious); the kabocha agnolotti with smoked duck – katsuobushi-style – and parmesan (just loads and loads of umami and deliciousness paired with a pear cider from Switzerland that I need to get my hands on somehow); the famous frozen foie gras over pine nut brittle, riesling gelee and lychee and the venison with pommes puree and epoisses (literally a layer of warm epoisses covered in fancy mashed potatoes that I’m pretty sure were composed of at least half butter). Hell, every single dish was standout. Even looking at these photos again, I’m salivating and checking out their availability for the coming week. Just know that this meal was probably one of the most memorable and enjoyable dinners of my life and I cannot wait to go back again. See below for each course and dish/pairing descriptions.
lobster paloise; tartlet w peter lauer, saar riesling sket, brut from mosel, germany nv 2011
madai – green chilli, shiso, consomme
bay scallop – pineapple, basil with peter lauer, saar riesling sekt, brut reserve from mosel, germany 1991
sunchoke – blood orange, tarragon with goose island ‘lolita’ from chicago, illinois
uni – chickpea, hozon w shimaoka shuzu yamahai junmai izumi from gunma, japan
mackerel sabazushi – wasabi, dashi ponzu w savart ‘bulles de rose’ ecueil from champagne, france
mackerel dashi – oyster mushrooms, asian pear
soft scramble – potato, osetra, herbs w matthiasson “linda vista” chardonnay from napa, california 2013
bread and butter
kabocha – smoked duck, parmesan w ciderie du vulcain “poire doux” from fribourg, switzerland 2013
halibut – watercress, artichoke, truffle w j.f. ganevat, cremant ‘oh’ blanc de blancs from jura, france 2010 rinsed with j.f. ganevat ‘vin jaune’ from jura, france 2003
foie gras – lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly w karthauserhof, eitelsbacher ‘karthauserofberg’ riesling auslese from ruwer, germany 1998 (magnum)
venison – pomme puree, epoisses w domaine monier perreol saint joseph from chatelet rhone, france 2011
huckleberry – laurel bay, bee pollen
chocolate – mint w dr pepper, rhubarb, scotch and amaro
And of course, because we don’t know how to stop being gluttonous once we’ve started, I introduced Chris to Lelabar, which in retrospect was probably a terrible idea for both our livers and wallets. A bottle of 1985 Chateau Leoville-Barton and 2000 Vietti Barolo to cap off an epic night of eating and drinking!
December 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
Xi’an Famous Foods hand pulled noodles with pork for the 25th birthday, thanks to sister Laura (in Chinese culture, noodles symbolize a long and prosperous life when you eat them on your birthday)…
Another hearty dinner at Via Carota with Cindy, including a cheesy cauliflower gratin and a ridiculously large slab of pork belly with almost candy-like cipollini onions…
Willamette Valley pinot noir and Bluepoint oysters with a college friend at 8th Street Wine Cellar right by Washington Square Park…always so nice to catch up over some vino…
Belated birthday dinner at Do Hwa, an old favorite in the West Village for Korean food, with my sisters. We always order the same thing here – the salmon sashimi and avocado salad, seafood pancake and the spicy pork BBQ ssam…
Escaping the office for an impromptu pasta-filled dinner at Andrew Carmellini’s Bar Primi in the East Village…
Late night drinks and steak tartare with roasted tomato mayonnaise at Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar…
August 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
Two very different meals, spanning seven months. One of my first splurge meals after moving back to NYC was at Betony, helmed by Eleven Madison Park alums and executed to perfection. Unfortunately, since this meal took place so long ago, I don’t really remember the specific components of each dish but just that the overall experience – food, service, ambiance – was very much worth the money. The standouts were definitely chicken liver mousse, super smooth and served with bits of fried chicken skin and green apple, the roasted chicken and the grilled short rib.
The second meal was in late spring at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder in the East Village, which focuses on bar food with a modern twist. Though I didn’t think it could compare to his flagship (WD-50, which is sadly closing this coming fall), it is a way to sample some of Dufresne’s food without paying a pretty penny. The best dishes were the “pigs in a blanket” (Chinese sausage, Japanese mustard, sweet chili sauce) and the French onion soup rings with beef gravy and gruyere but I do wish the portions had been a little bit more generous.
January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
Photos from Esther and my summer meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar, which is still one of my favorite places to eat in the East Village.
A seasonal cocktail and the Penicillin – scotch, lemon, honey and ginger…all my favorite ingredients in one beverage with a giant ice cube.
The famous steamed pork belly buns with hoisin, cucumber, and scallions. Still so good that I could make a full meal out of these babies.
A new addition to the menu since my last visit – bbq buns with crispy pork belly, coleslaw, and smoked mayo. Maybe it was the novelty of the dish, but I think I actually preferred this version to the original, and Esther and I seriously contemplated ordering more.
A classic – spicy pork sausage and rice cakes. I always tell myself that I won’t order these again, but something about the crispy starch mixed with the crunchy Chinese broccoli and spicy meatiness of the sausage just keeps calling me back.
Silky Santa Barbara uni with some melon ice and a strange but tasty gelee (I vaguely remember a porky, ham flavor) with summer tomatoes.
Beef, two ways, with bulgur, fava beans and soubise. I think this may have been the first time I’d had bulgur actually and it was totally great – nutty flavor and a toothsome texture. The meat, as you can see, was also perfectly cooked. Just goes to show that while it may be easy to fall into the same great dishes again and again, it’s definitely worth your while to try new dishes at places where you’ve eaten many times in the past.
June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
Summer’s going by so quickly and with that realization comes the panic that there’s too much to do in too little time. Restaurants, exhibits, performances, meeting with old friends…why can’t we get 6 months of summer instead of 3? Luckily, some things, like eating out and gathering, go hand in hand. Case in point: a dinner with friends from high school at relatively new restaurant, Ngam, in the East Village.
There aren’t any assertions of authenticity at Ngam, just a focus on comforting, decidedly Thai dishes that nevertheless keep in mind the Western palate. My Thai burger, though a cooked bit too rare for my taste, had bright clean flavors – spiciness and slight pungency from the sai oor curry paste, acid from the green papaya kraut – to balance against the rich taste of the beef and a top-heavy sesame bun and came with a generous handful of addictive Chiang Mai kabocha fries and homemade red curry mayonnaise that Pomme Frites needs to riff and add to their repertoire of sauces so I can enjoy them really late at night.
M ordered an intriguing take on the classic pad thai which used long strands of green papaya instead of the usual rice noodles. I liked that the dish wasn’t overly sweet, a mistake more common than not at Thai restaurants trying to appeal to American tastes.
And X’s crispy chicken “laab” with sticky rice, though definitely not traditional in that it used larger nuggets of meat instead of minced chicken, had a healthy dose of fish sauce, lime, and cilantro.
All in all, Ngam is great for both classics and new approaches to traditional Thai dishes, and the restaurant’s vibe – artsy and rough around the edges – is great if you’re going with a group. Add the fact that they’re on Seamless and what’s not to love?
99 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10003