Went there for lunch on Monday, and was so impressed that I took two friends for dinner on Tuesday. Not perfect, but has streaks of genius and staff that appreciates them.
Monday lunch was honeycrisp apple briefly marinated in kimchi sauce with very piggy Berkshire bacon and Lebanese yogurt: an inspired combination of flavor notes and textures; unctuous pork shoulder from a specialty pork farmer; brussel sprouts that converted me: sauteed fast till brown, with a mint, Thai pepper, fish sauce and maybe orange vinaigrette, they were crunchy, spicy, refreshing and comforting all at once. My partner and I fought over the last spoonful of sauce. the one failure was the Sichuan beef tendon: I had enjoyed the genuine article the previous evening at Sichuan Gourmet, and this had no texture and no zing.
Tuesday night the standouts were the pickles (yes!) and dessert. I only chose the pickles because I had bought the Momofuku cookbook and was thinking of making them as Holiday gifts. The plate had fennel, carrots, celery, cauliflower, ramps, baby mushrooms, cucumber, baby turnips, onion, shitake mushrooms and two kimchi marinated pickles. Each vegetable was sliced thinly so the pickle could penetrate quickly without overpowering them, and several had different pickling mixtures. the three of us focussed intensely on the delicious pickles till all were gone. The skate in the next dish was (unfortunately) breaded, which didn't add anything to the tender fish, but the combination of preserved tiny lemons, charred fingerling potatoes with Old Bay spice (thank you, Baltimore) felt like a winter campfire meal with a chef. Two of us chose the Stilton and fruit dessert: crumbled rich Stilon at just the correct ripeness, on a thick smear of sweet "pumpkin ganache". with an oval spoonful of refreshing pear sorbet in the middle: wow! The other dessert was a rectangle of assertive Thai iced tea mousse, a scattering of what they called almond tea crunch and a spoonful of quiet lemon marscapone mousse. We celebrated this course with a quarter bottle of beeranauslese Riesling. drunk on food, we went to the bakery next door where I got compost cookies and smoked kale focaccia to have for breakfast.
P.S. The service was knowledgeable, efficient and helpful
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003