Long before moving to New York, I’ve heard about Chef David Chang’s first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar. Chang and I both seem to have an obsession with noodles and Noodle Bar is his tribute for this awesome food category. Noodle Bar features his take on the ever-so-popular ramen, but also other Asian-fusion-y noodles. Unfortunately, all I’ve ever heard from other foodies about Momofuku’s Ramen was that it’s no bueno.
Since living here, I’ve tried almost every other Momofuku eats other than the ramen: first the large format meal Bo Ssäm at Momofuku Ssam Bar (nom nom nom), then the large format Fried Chicken Meal at Momofuku Noodle Bar (meh), and finally a great meal at Momofuku Má Pêche.
A friend who got me obsessed with David Chang’s Mind of a Chef series on Netflix came to visit New York a few months ago, so I figured there was no better time to finally see for myself if what they all say about the ramen is true. Turns out, Elijah Wood thought the same thing and wanted to check out Noodle Bar on the same night! (Hello stalker status! hehe)
Between the 4 of us, we ordered a good amount of food from the menu to sample a little bit of everything, a few apps and 3 orders of noodles. Here’s what we ended up with:
|Momofuku Pork Buns – delicious as always|
|Brisket Pork Buns – horseradish, picked red onion and cucumber|
|Brussel Sprouts – coconut, peanuts and Thai basil|
|Rice Cakes – SO SO SO SOOOO Good! MUST ORDER!|
All the appetizers were great, but I am especially obsessed with the rice cake. I knew I was going to love it because of the last time I had it at Má Pêche, super crispy on the outside and gelatinous and chewy on the inside. Covered in a spicy sauce – perfection! I would go again just to eat this.
With so much anticipation, what’s the final verdict on the Momofuku Ramen? I think the masses are right on this one, with all the good ramen around town (Ippudo & Totto, just to name my favorites), the Momofuku Ramen was just “okay”. The broth was a bit more one dimensional than I would have hoped for, just salty and not too much other flavor that went along with it. Personally, I eat ramen for the broth so for me this was just a deal breaker.
The pulled pork in the ramen itself was just average too, a bit dry if anything. The Prawn Ramen reminded me of the Green Curry Ramen at Bassanova Ramen in Chinatown with a green curry broth, but once again, wasn’t too memorable. I’d opt for the ramen at Bassanova over that.
Finally we had a Ginger Scallion Noodles which was my favorite of the night. It was a simple preparation, with a ton of pickled items mixed in as toppings – shitake mushrooms, napa cabbage and cucumbers. I love the way Momofuku pickles their vegetables, so this was a perfect way to sample them. Also, a personal fan of ginger & scallion sauce. Put that on top of anything for me and you have me sold.
So, in short, I’m sad to confirm: go for everything else but the ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar. The appetizers are great and only order ramen as a way to get full, but not as the main attraction.