finally tried this place. i must confess i have wanted to like this place from the start. good asian noodle soups with interesting quality ingredients - that is not in a filthy chinatown hole in the wall with ridiculous music and fluorescent light - what's not to like? outside of chinatown, this city has mediocre ramen, and acceptable ramen, and occasionally even good ramen... and then what? oh and soba too, right. but man, the japanese are not the only people who know how to cook good noodle.
thankfully it didn't disappoint. overall, it was an excellent meal!
- frog legs appetizers: they were huge, like mini chicken wings. and very good texture, moist and meaty. good flavor with the salad. and it was only $5!
- rabbit rillete: also excellent.
- veal head terrine: amongst the apps i liked this the least - a bit too rich for me - but my friend liked it a lot. the accompanying broccoli and peanuts were nice too. the vinegar & sesame oil sauce was a good touch
- beef noddle: at this point we were worried that the main courses were gonna disappoint after the good apps. but thankfully they didn't! we had thick noodles for this one, which i like better than the thin one. i'm afraid i gotta say i didn't taste any difference with the organic flour which they used to make the noodle (the whole place has a sustainable / organic concept behind it too), but the noodle was excellent anyway. these are flour noodles, i.e. like the ones you have in shanghainese / northern chinese noodle soups. i.e. not japanese ramen noodles. these are easy to mess up and go soggy. they certainly didn't mess it up. and the broth is rich and complex, without being overly salty. it's a significantly richer broth than what you usually have in chinese noodle shops, almost approaching the richness of japanese ramen broth, but not as intense and salty. i think it's a nice balance over all. and the beef brisket tasted very earthy and real, with good fatty bits mixed with soft meaty bits. i.e. they aren't cardboard cuts. i liked dipping the meat into the house black bean sauce which i think has some flower pepper kick in it. and it came with a perfectly boiled egg too.
- duck noodle: this was the highlight. the broth was even better the the beef broth. this one definitely has szechuan flower pepper in it, but the whole thing wasn't spicy. you can add the house made chili sauce though if you need the heat. we had thin noodles with it for variation, but i liked the thick ones better.
they just got alcohol today, but they have a pretty good selection already, including a dark lager from Laos, some sake and wine. they say they're gonna have a full bar with cocktails and stuff soon.
the place itself has a good vibe too. while i care about the food too much more than whether they use recycled chairs or whatever, the whole place has a modern, tidy, and yet not obnoxiously hip feel to it. you can certainly take your date there. and you can watch the guy pulling the noodle from dough , which is quite fun. and at least for the moment, there's no long wait like Ippudo.
the noodle they serve is a different beast than japanese ramen, but they kind of hit the same spot for me. i guess i'll still go to Ippudo occasionally. but for the other places, like Momofuku Noodle Bar or Totto, i guess i can forget about them for now...
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
55 Bond St, New York, NY 10012