|The Battle of Fried Chicken: Southern Fried Chicken and Korean Fried Chicken!|
Ever since I gathered a group of friends for the Bo Ssäm at Momofuku’s Ssäm Bar earlier last year, which by the way was probably one of my more memorable meals of 2012, I’ve been wanting to try more of David Chang’s epic large format meals for groups.
Momofuku is definitely a New York staple and the Noodle Bar is the restaurant that started it all. I first heard about Chang’s chicken when I saw the Fried Chicken challenge on Season 10 of Top Chef, where the contestants headed to Tom’s home to cook for a table full of culinary superstars including David Chang himself. The chef who cooked their chicken the “Momofuku” way received a lot of praise, so I knew I had to see what this was all about.
|The regular menu, we only ordered sides of pork buns!|
|The Yuzu Arnold Palmer Slushie is SOOO GOOD!|
The Noodle Bar, as its name suggests, specializes in noodles from Japanese Ramen to Chinese Ginger Scallion Noodles. However, if you make a reservation early in advance, you can pre-order the fried chicken. I’ll get to that later.
First, let’s talk about the pork buns that I’ve heard so much about. In case you haven’t heard already, pork buns are the shit. Usually made with perfectly braised pork belly that’s sandwiched in a neat fluffly white steamed bun. Little bites of heaven. So when you talk about pork buns in New York City, the two that are worth talking about are the ones at Ippudo, or at Momofuku.
Now that I’ve finally had the two, I think I have to say that I’m still a fan of the Ippudo version which is served with a crunch ice berg lettuce and kewpie mayo that helps balance out some of the bold marinaded flavors from the pork belly. However, if you’re in it for the portion size of the pork, I say Momofuku wins.
Onwards to the fried chicken…
|The huge plate of chicken is quite the spectacle and we’re all very excited to eat it!!|
Southern Style means its fried with a buttermilk and old bay batter, giving it a really thick crust that gives an extra crunch on the skin. Korean Style means its fried – THREE TIMES – first lightly dusted with flour and the crunch comes from the chicken being fried again and again. Then it’s glazed with a light spicy sauce.
This $100 order of Fried Chicken comes with mu shu pancakes which acts like a tortilla for you to make fried chicken tacos with. It also comes with veggies that came in clutch to lighten the heavy meal of the greasy goodness. We had bibb lettuce, shiso leaves, red ball radishes, baby carrots and four sauces exactly like what accompanied the Bo Ssäm: ginger-scallion, kimchi, minced kimchi and kochujang sauces.
This order is said to feed 4-8 people. However, our group had 4 guys and 5 girls and we were all stuffed by the end of it, so I’d say the more the merrier!
So what’s the verdict on this Fried Chicken meal? Is this the best Southern Fried Chicken I’ve ever had? No, I wish the pieces weren’t as big as they were, the breast pieces were really dried out and I didn’t absolutely love the skin on them. It was a bit thick and too crunchy, but not necessarily in a good way. What can I say, I just might like my chicken from Popeye’s just that much more? (With a side of their amazing red beans and rice too!)
As for the Korean Fried Chicken, it definitely doesn’t compare to the best fried chicken in Manhattan – and perhaps the world – Mad for Chicken in K-Town. Momofuku’s version just lacked the type of crispy lightness that I’ve found at Mad for Chicken, where with a bite into the chicken, the skin falls off and the sauce covering just the right balance between savory and sweet. I would say even Bon Chon does it better in terms of the sauce, but perhaps not the freshness. Also, this sauce is pretty spicy, so my non-spicy friends, beware!
The only reason why I would ever come back is because the cost for this Momofuku meal is pretty affordable for what you get, especially in Mahattan. This meal will set you back ~$15 if you split the $100 order of chicken with 7 others. In addition to all the unlimited veggies and pancake wraps, you get a shared experience of that moment of awe as the waiter brings out the mound of deep-fried goodness.
Overall, whatever was lacking in the two Fried Chickens was made up for by the mu shu pancakes, sauces and garnishes. Not good enough for me to plan the dinner again, but I wouldn’t be opposed to coming back, however I would convince the planner to consider getting a Bo Ssäm at Ssam Bar instead first.