Pork, Asian Burritos, and Raw Defiance

New York magazine—which is arguably one of the finest food magazines being published, despite all the non-food-related filler that crams its pages—has an utterly delightful story this month about David Chang, the proprietor of Momofuku Noodle Bar, in the East Village. The story’s entertaining opening anecdote paints a striking picture of a chef at war … with uppity vegetarians.

It wasn’t a war of choice, mind you—they fired the first shots in 2004, bitching and moaning about how his restaurant wasn’t sufficiently catering to their wants, and how the lack of vegetarian options was putting the new restaurant’s financial situation in jeopardy.

His response: cutting down the number of vegetarian options on his menu to one, and highlighting it with red text reading: “OUR ONLY VEGETARIAN OPTION.”

‘We added pork to just about everything else,’ says Chang, giggling like a schoolgirl.

As business boomed, Chang decided to open a cafeteria-style Asian burrito bar in the East Village, and that’s where the profile really gets rolling, exploring the trouble Chang’s had making his new vision work, and the benefits—and drawbacks—of being a culinary rebel.

The story’s epic scope might be a little overwhelming to those disinterested in pork-laden Asian food in New York, but give David Chang a chance, and you’re in it for the long haul.

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