Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Ssam Bar was the last David Chang outpost that I needed to visit. Each of David's joints has a specific feel and purpose but his style ties all of them together. His menus seem to come together in similar fashion with quality components and a creative mind coming together give an odd but exciting twists to traditional (and not so traditional) dishes. What I do find is that no matter how 'exotic' the dish, the presentation always makes the food approachable.

Ssam Bar has long been on my list just because it was the missing piece for me to close my Momofuku loop. By this time, I feel like I understand the chef's food and know what to expect. The new car smell has worn off. That's not to say that the food no longer excites me, because it does. (I don't think I'll ever grow weary of pork belly buns.)

What I have come to appreciate is the high quality of food the Momofuku kitchens have been able to churn out. Some dishes have been hit or miss, but the quality, precision, and care put into a dish has never been lacking. I do have to applaud the Momofuku crew for running a first rate operation.

As for the meal at Ssam Bar itself? I do have to admit that my post comes over a month after my visit and with no notes, its becoming quite hard to remember all the details of the meal. I'm not sure if this is all for the worse since the few things I do remember, I remember fondly.

Bev Eggelston's Country Ham
Bev Eggelston's Country Ham (Shenandoah Valley, VA), red-eye gravy, Sullivan Street Bakery baguette.

The country ham stole the show. Actually, it was the show. The ham itself was sliced delicately and the bread was what I would expect from Jim Lahey's bakery. Both wonderful selections for David Chang to showcase on his menu. But what really elevated the collection of 3rd party goods was the 'red-eye gravy'. Broken down, red-eye gravy is coffee flavored mayo. Put together, its a creamy bitter smoky concoction. It brought and already perfect combination to a level I never knew existed. I would be happy just ordering all the ham's on the menu, just to see how the gravy would compliment.

The rest sort of fades from my mind. I remember the crispy pig's head to be good. Nice and crispy as advertised with a great fattiness to it. The pork buns have yet to disappoint. The chicken fried chicken sounded great but fell short. The asparagus with burgundy snails I don't remember at all.

My next Momofuku experience? I hope its the infamous Bo Ssam...

Crispy Pig's Head
Crispy Pig's Head (Newman's Farm, MO), lime pickle, frisee.

Pork belly buns
Pork Belly Buns

Bell & Evan's Chicken Fried Chicken
Bell & Evan's Chicken Fried Chicken with ramps, morels, and eggs.

Asparagus and Burgundy Snails
Asparagus and Burgundy Snails, onion dashi, market greens.

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