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Main | Hometown Bar-B-Que, Brooklyn »
Saturday
Oct202018

Short & Sweet: Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC

Style: Pan-Asian restaurant, specialising in ramen.

Budget: Mid-range.

Venue and atmosphere: Deceptively casual. The long wooden bar and communal tables and benches have the feel of a traditional Japanese ramen-ya, but the food will soon remind you that this is a destination restaurant (if the queue hasn’t already).

Service: Efficient and knowledgeable, but a little rushed and brusque; a common theme in my experience of New York City hospitality. 

Food: This is what you are here for and, despite more than 10 years of hype, it doesn’t fail to impress.

Yes, even those pork buns, which have received so much press and which have bred so many copycats across the western world. The balance was just right – salty, crispy, almost bacon-like pork belly, sweet hoisin, lightly pickled cucumber, fresh spring onion sandwiched between a soft and airy milk bun. The original and the best I’ve had (I’ve had many).

Fluke crudo – a starter of raw fluke, a type of flounder, was presented in the style of an Italian carpaccio, but dressed with bonji and hozon – 2 Japanese style condiments designed by Momofuku Lab that plant the dish firmly back in Asia with their nutty, umami flavours. Mixed with lemon juice, the result was light and delicate, enhancing rather than overwhelming the subtle flavour of the fish.

A salad of peashoots and chard with Asian pear, sesame and chilli vinaigrette was bold and inventive. If you are going to put gochujang in a salad dressing then you need big flavours to compete and the tart and crisp Asian pear, sweet and crunchy julienne carrots and earthy leaves were just right.  

Now I must admit to a terrible thing – I don’t love ramen. There I said it. Give me a tom yum or laksa any day. But when in Momofuku…

The signature pork ramen with pork belly, spring onion and poached egg in a hearty, meaty broth is a ramen lovers’ heaven. The smell was almost smoky, like bacon, which it turns out Chang uses in place of miso in the broth. That bacon-like pork belly from the bao also made an appearance and was fantastic dipped into the runny egg yolk, who doesn't like bacon and eggs? It’s rich, but that is what they are going for, and as far as ramen goes, it’s one of the best.

Miso soft serve with puffed rice provided a refreshing finish. I couldn't taste the miso particularly, but the sweet and crunchy puffed rice was a revelation.

Drink: A handful of beers, local and Asian; a few Korean liquors; sake; and a small selection of wine.

In a nutshell: Delicious modern Asian dishes that stand up to the hype.

Out of 10: 8

Momofuku Noodle Bar: 171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003; +1 212 777 7773. No bookings.

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