Some say Momofuku is way way over priced. Some swear that Momofuku is the best restaurant they went to in 2009. I’ve heard lengthy debates on both sides. I’m not one to get excited over the hype, but I finally gave in to going to Momofuku Ssam Bar 207 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003 when reservations were made for me. It was time to find out which side I was on.

Ssam Pork Butt 4

Mary Helen reserved the Bo Ssam, whole pork butt dinner, for the seven of us, all girls. The sweet glazed outside is the best part, but the meat throughout was tender and pulled apart nicely. It’s served with kimchee (chunks and puree), a red bean paste sauce, and a ginger scallion mixture.

sauces/condiments

The condiments were all good, but the most distinctive part is putting the fresh kusshi oysters in your wrap. Unfortunately, there’s only 12 oysters per Bo Ssam dinner so depending on the number of people, only one or two wraps will get to be stellar.

kusshi oysters

Serving it with very clean Boston lettuce is a great presentation detail.

boston lettuce

Most of the complaints I hear are from Asians who know that you can get a pork butt for much less, less than a quarter of the price. The fans claim that David Chang’s Bo Ssam is superior. I stand in the middle on this one. While it’s very enjoyable, the meat isn’t superior. My mom makes a mean pork butt too. The presentation and the fresh oyster is what makes it special for me. For that, I am willing to pay a bit more, but $200 is still a bit over-priced. Plus, the decor and service is fine, but not special.

Ssam Pork Butt 2

The part that gets really over-priced is the rest of the stuff. They don’t list their prices on their website or menupages, but I remember gawking at some of them, particularly at this skimpy portion of apple kimchee, kind of hard to share for seven people. The slice of apple I got was good, a  sweet alternative to cabbage, but at most Korean restaurants, you get a slew of sides for free.

apple kimchee

The beef tendon was a better portion but not very good. I don’t remember much flavor.

beef tendon

The pork buns were rich and fatty, as promised on many reviews. Extra attention is paid to cutting perfect batonnets of pork fat. Still, the versions in Chinatown or Flushing will be so much cheaper that I’d opt for those, where I could stuff myself silly.

pork buns

The Brussels sprouts looked burnt so I was surprised at how good they were, like crispy brussels sprouts chips.

crispy brussels sprouts

They were great about packing left-overs, splitting it into 4 doggie bags for us with some kimchee. Thank you for that. Lon enjoyed left-overs and agreed that the Bo Ssam part is only a little over-priced.

Being attached to Milk Bar, we were disappointed that there was only three dessert choices on the menu. None were enticing so we ended up at Milk Bar, but there you have to stand and eat your dessert. It’s crowded and dark, not my ideal setting, but I was more impressed here. The Chocolate-Chocolate Cookie was salty, which didn’t work for me, but the saltiness in the Candy Bar Pie was perfect, against the mature sweetness of the crunchy mix of pretzels, chocolate, caramel, and more. The Chocolate Chip Cake with the unique twist of passionfruit curd was also great, not too sweet, balanced and moist. I’d get this one again too.

My final verdict is that I like the food, enough to buy his cookbook for $26.40 on Amazon, but not enough to pay the prices at the restaurant. I will likely stop by for something to-go at Milk Bar though.

posted by jessica at 04:38 PM Filed under Asian, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.