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Restaurants & Bars

The Great Momofuku Debate (Long)

gloriousfood | Sep 14, 200608:35 PM     37

So, finally, after reading about Momofuku on these boards, other sites, magazines, newspapers, etc., etc., I went to Momofuku this afternoon. I ordered the Momofuku Ramen, keeping in mind that there have been comments about it being overly salty (something I find all too common in many noodle/ramen shops in the city), so I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was how underwhelming and bland and tasteless the broth was (and I am very sensitive to salt). Did I go on an off day? David Chung was not in the kitchen--does this matter? Have people found the food to be better when he's there?

The ingredients--peas, bamboo shoots, Berkshire pork, etc.--seemed fresh enough, were plentiful, and if nothing else, made for an attractive-looking dish. However, since the broth was tasteless, there was only so much the ingredients could do. The ramen itself was fine--not overly mushy (or even mushy), which some people have noted. Another frequent complaint seems to be the fattiness of the pork, which did not bother me since I grew up eating them that way.

I wanted to order the steamed Berkshire pork bun but was full and could not justify paying $9 for 2 buns when I could take the subway a couple of more stops to Chinatown and get so much more! The buns did silence the couple next to me who was talking incessantly, and they appeared to be in food heaven with comments like "Oh my god" and "Wow...."

So am I being short-sighted in not ordering the buns simply because of the price? Are they truly worth it?

A side note on the buns. It amuses me a great deal to see how these "buns" or "pancakes" or "montou" seem to be all the rage now and what people are willing to pay for them. I remember growing up eating them--my mother used to make them from scratch along with piping hot soy bean milk while the rest of my family eagerly waited for her to take them out of the bamboo steamers before putting in the next batch. The ingredients were so simple and pure, and the most "adventurous" my family and I would get would be to eat montou with peanut butter or dried mince pork.

Reading past posts on this place, it seems that there are distinctly two camps on Momofuku: people either love it or don't. I won't be going back anytime soon, but I am curious about the kimchee stew and the buns. I am willing to give this place another shot. Should I?

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