Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Urban Eats @ Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC

Momofuku Noodle Bar is the original restaurant under the Momofuku brand in New York City. We had heard such great things about it from other friends and New Yorkers, that we had to check it out to see what all the hype was about. David Chang is the award-winning chef with two Michelin stars and a couple James Beard awards under his belt and he's bringing a Momofuku to the new Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. We checked back into the New York location yesterday and bring you this blast from the past blog post. We can't wait until it finally opens this year.
The Momofuku Ramen
Momofuku is very much a rock and roll noodle bar with music blaring and very narrow restaurant space. An actual bar runs along the left side of the restaurant where diners can slurp away on their noodles. Communal seating lines the right side, where you will probably share with strangers if you are a party bigger than two.  We checked in with the hostess for a 9:30 PM dinner and the place was rammed!  The wait for a table (they don't take reservations) was at least 30 minutes, but it was well worth it.
I ordered the Momofuku Ramen pictured above. My hot steaming bowl came with pork belly, shredded pork shoulder, green onions and a poached egg. Pure perfection. It was hearty, filling and had layers of flavour. It was everything I would want in a ramen bowl with a nice smokey flavour from the pork and not overly salty.

Momofuku is famous for their Steamed BBQ Pork Buns. Now this isn't the chau siu bao that you get at dim sum people! We are talking two big pieces of fatty pork belly smothered in a delicious sauce with slivers of cucumbers and a sprinkling of green onions on top.  The deconstructed bun is wrapped in soft white bread that is like chau siu bao, but more airy and just plain better. These buns were heaven!  Yes, it's fatty, but that's just what makes them so good.
Our next pick were the Ginger Scallion Noodles pictured below. They tasted amazingly fresh, served warm and tossed in a ginger dressing that was not too overpowering. The shittake mushrooms, sliced cucumber and bamboo shoots were complimentary in fresh flavour. I usually love broth with my noodles, but this was still pretty good.
Not on the menu but on the 'Snacks' chalkboard are the Tamales.  We went with the Chicken Mole flavour and it was like sticky rice meets a tamale with big chunks of chicken in a mole sauce. You have to try it because the flavour and texture is so unexpected.  
Last but not least is the The Momofuku Soft Serve which comes in a little Asian tea cup.  Our flavours for the night were banana bread and tea ice cream served together in a twist format. Sweet almond topping is smacked into the side of it for some crunchy texture. The tea ice cream, really tasted like a cup of breakfast tea and the banana bread did have that distinct banana flavour. It was pretty cool (har-har) and very innovative. Check out the Momofuku Milk Bar if you are into even more crazy flavours. Gourmet soft serve? Who woulda thunk it?
Momofuku is a must-eat for your next visit to NYC or you can wait patiently for the Toronto opening for the highly delicious and affordable noodle bowls and steamed buns. If you're worried about crowds, go mid-week for lunch when it's likely to be less crowded. We showed up on a Friday night and it was insane even when we were leaving at around 10:45 PM. Relax, ask to see the menu while you're waiting in line and order a beer from the hostess.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Avenue at 10th

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