I had very high expectations for Momofuku Ssam. Often when this happens, it results in utter disappointment, as I have built up the experience in my head far too greatly, which hinders my experience. Not so this time.
Perhaps it was the company (which included my friend, Mike, whom is a wonderfully sweet person and my uncle, for whom I admire greatly and have not seen in months AND the person that introduced me to chowhound). However, the food was phenomenal – each dish had extremely vibrant and distinct flavors.
We started with the cured hamachi, which came with edamame puree, whole edamame and tiny “crunchy” items that reminded me of rice crispies (but more dense and flavorful). This was DELICIOUS. All of the flavors blended together beautifully.
Next came the fried brussel sprouts with chilies, mint and fish sauce. I love brussel sprouts, but I never imagined they could be like this! It was like candy…just melted in your mouth.
Then they brought us the apple salad with bacon, lychee fruit, lychee gelatin and peanuts. It was shocking, yet admirable how well these items complimented each other. Even by themselves, each slice of apple had strong hints of smokiness and bacon. YUM!
The rest was brought out a bit faster and became a bit more blurry: a combination of the sake and being overwhelmed by all of the delicious food! It included:
Bahn Mi, which I enjoyed – very rustic bread with various offal insides. This was one of my uncle’s favorites.
Grilled sweetbread: amazing – very smoky and melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Ssam grilled lemongrass pork sausage with fish sauce and bibb lettuce – came in the form of make-it-yourself lettuce wraps. Several sliced of sausage, many pieces of lettuce, marinated shredded carrots, marinated shredded cabbage, and a sweet, clear fish sauce with floating sliced green onions. No shocker – this was excellent as well.
Momofuku Ssam: simply, a flour wrap/burrito with shredded pork, onions, shitake mushrooms, edamame and red kimchee puree. It was one of my favorites, but here’s a hint: pour a LITTLE bit of the clear fish sauce (from the lemongrass pork sausage ssam) onto each bite – makes it even more stellar.
Service: excellent. It was a very friendly, neighborhood-type of feel, which I love. I look forward to going back and having the rest of the items that I missed. What an amazing menu.
(Thanks to Halo, Ichang and Kobetobiko for their recommendations!)