Momofuku Ssam Bar – New York City

by on July 15, 2010

As soon as we booked our tickets to New York City for a work shoot at The French Culinary Institute, we knew Momofuku Ssam Bar was on our hit list of “must eats”.  This is how we run our business affairs: secure the contract, book the clients, think about where to eat in the city and then figure out the rest of the project logistics.

Eat Now. Work Later.

Barely even walking into the hotel, with just enough time to drop our bags down and grab our cameras,  we immediately headed out to David Chang’s hot spot with our friend Jaden of Steamy Kitchen.

The sampler plate of ice cream at Momofuku Milk Bar, East Village

Momofuku Ssäm was packed. Literally every seat was occupied and everyone before and after us in the long line were content with the 30 minute wait. That’s a sign of great food to come if customers are willing to wait.

There are plenty of things to do and see in 30 minutes, but Jaden (the savvy tour guide) led us to the second hot spot (conveniently located next door) for some beer at Momofuku Milk Bar in East Village. A place to buy beer and milk within a few feet away! Beer for the big people and cereal milk for the little people. There’s something for everyone in the family at Milk Bar!

Milk Bar was standing room only, not only because it had a line out the door, but because literally, there are no chairs in the joint. A long communal bar table settles in the middle of the thriving shop and customers are packed side-by-side enjoying unique ice cream flavors: cereal milk, melon and peach tea.

How can you not love Pork Slap Pale Ale?  *inside joke*

After a few cans of Pork Slap Pale Ale Beer and sinfully good pork belly buns (omg the pork! pork!), we headed back over to Ssäm bar for the rest of the feast.

We were all drawn to dishes that had high fat content, why we don’t know exactly, but when we’ve got 4 different types of sake strewn over the table, life becomes more daring.

Bone marrow shavings, pig’s head terrine, crunchy pigs ears, salty fatty ham, tripe and the deadly decadant spicy rice cakes told us that hard work deserves rewards and fat masterly executed by David Chang is worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears. Every single bite was amazing and not one crumb of fat or green was left on the plates. We had to repeatedly fight of the servers who were diligently trying to clear our table. Don’t touch till it’s licked clean!

Momofuku Ssäm bar prepared us for the 3 long days of shooting that lie ahead.

More New York Eats posts to come!

Love New York.

David Chang’s steamed pork belly buns rock. Add a squirt of hot sauce for extra zing!

above: sweet & sour crispy pig ears and pig head terrine

a packed house, and everyone having a great time

above: spicy honeycomb tripe and edwards wigwam ham

a shot of Jaden outside the colorful wall of Momofuku

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nate @ House of Annie July 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Awesome. I think I want to go to Momofuku more than I want to go to French Laundry :-)


2 Phoo-D July 16, 2010 at 4:30 am

I’m so glad that you shared this! Momofuku is high on my list for my trip to NY in August. I can’t wait to give all of this porcine goodness a try!


3 TheKitchenWitch July 16, 2010 at 6:40 am

Now I’m totally in for the Pork Slap Pale Ale, but pig’s head terrine? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. And you made tripe look good–what kind of foul seductress are you? Maybe I’ll be a baby and stick with the pork buns. Phoo-D can eat the more daring stuff!


4 Asha@FSK July 16, 2010 at 8:07 am

You were in NYC?!! Are still??
Momofuku Ssam is great. I recently went there and the pork buns are my favorite too!!


5 Taylor July 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

If I am ever in NYC I will have to try this


6 Fuji Mama July 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

Oh drool! For some odd reason I now have the most intense uncontrollable craving for pork. If I hop on a plane for NYC, I’m blaming it on you! Oh, and that picture of Jaden? Absolutely STUNNING.


7 ila July 16, 2010 at 8:57 am

ACK! i just started reading the momofuku cookbook, and now i’m uber uber jealous. the buns look MAH-vah-lous.


8 Matt July 16, 2010 at 9:00 am


I’m so glad you guys went there. NOT A SINGLE TRIP TO NYC happens for us without stopping by any of the Momofukus. I’m serious. In fact, we went 3 times our last visit. Obsessive? A bit. But when you realize what DC does is like no other, well, you understand :)


9 Anna July 16, 2010 at 9:03 am

I just love the Momofuku restaurants….although I find everything at the Milk Bar waaaaaay too sweet. BTW David Chang ought to be paying you for those beautiful shots!


10 Kate @ Savour Fare July 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

ooh, that looks TDF. I’ve been slowly cooking my way through the Momofuko cookbook, and I have to say that everything in it is almost TOO delicious. The pork belly buns are surprisingly simple to make at home, too, except the buns are a bit of a PITA if you don’t have a large steamer. You can buy buns, though, easily.


11 Irvin July 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

OMG. I love it. I STILL haven’t been and the Momofuku cookbook, though wonderful, CLEARLY did not do justice to the place, as your post did.

THanks!!! Mmm. Pork. I must eat some for lunch now.

Also, I third Fuji Mama and Matt. Jaden looks great!


12 Jennifer (Savor) July 16, 2010 at 11:33 am

I have never been but will put it on the top of my list!


13 Brooke@foodwoolf July 16, 2010 at 11:37 am

Ah, to have been at your side that day! What fun you all must have had! Pork, pork, and pork…Not a bad way to go! Great photos and thanks for the visual preview of David Chang’s amazing restaurants.


14 Dawn (KitchenTravels) July 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I {heart} NYC, too. My sister was married there last January, and she’s pushing for an anniversary meet-up there with all of us. Not sure we’ll be able to swing a coast-to-coast trip (especially the FIVE plane tix we’ll have to buy – ouch), but it sure would be fun! So many great places – it would take a lifetime to see and taste everything.

p.s. – Jaden looks beautiful. T&D, you certainly know how to bring out the best in people on film.


15 Oi July 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Hi Guys! Glad to see that you are in my neck of the woods.
So many places to eat, so little time.
I would like to recommend Banh Mi Saigon Bakery in Little Italy/Chinatown for the best Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches) I have ever tasted. I refuse to go anywhere else. And the pork is $3.75 for a sandwich with chicken at $4.25. It’s a bargain. Their old address is 138 Mott Street (a little shop that salso sells gems and jewelry.) But they have already begun to move to their new location on 194 Grand street in Chinatown. If you have the time and are in the area, I would recommend you try and stop by!
I hope you enjoy the food! and can find some shelter from the humid heat.
More pictures please!


16 Oi July 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm

P.S. Di Palo’s on the corner of Grand and Mott Street is the best place ever. Prosciutto and cheese heaven. just walk in for the smell. :)


17 White on Rice Couple July 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Damn! We are already back home in So Cal. Wish we would have posted while still in NY so we could have gotten this great insight. We’ll just have to go back, and we certainly intend to.

Thanks again.

T & D


18 Joanne July 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Oh lordy the pork buns give me the most wonderful dreams. I dream of them, must make my own pork belly now.


19 tea_austen July 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Not only do I want to go to Momofuku—I want to go with YOU.
How else would I have to guts to try all those things?

Also: that shot of Jaden? Amazing.
You guys rock. Hope you’re having fun!


20 Victoria K. July 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Hi! I’ve heard a lot of great things about Momofuku! Glad to hear they aren’t lies, haha. Random question. Obviously I love your photography, and I know you are professionals, but what program do you use to put together your photo collages? I’d love to experiment with that on my site! Thanks :)


21 White on Rice Couple July 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Thanks. Momofuku was fantastic. Great food, sake, and staff.

For the collages we just do them in Photoshop. Diane hates doing it, so I end up making them most of the time. Not too bad when you are comfortable with PS.



22 deb July 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Aw, you guys were within spitting distance. Next time, I hope I can join for a Pork Slap!


23 White on Rice Couple July 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Deb- lol, make it two Pork Slaps and it’s a date!


24 marla {family fresh cooking} July 17, 2010 at 6:48 am

Great post you guys! I don’t think Momofuku was around when I lived in the city back in ’96. Such a great experience you share with us. Those are some very exotic nibbles. The Milk Bar is such an amazing concept. Can’t wait to read more about your NYC adventures. xo


25 marla {family fresh cooking} July 17, 2010 at 6:49 am

btw: lovely portrait of Jaden!


26 Liam O'Malley July 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I just finished up Medium Raw – the new Bourdain book – which devotes an entire chapter to David Chang. I have yet to ever eat at a Momofuku establishment or even get a peek into the cookbook, but I’m all the more eager to now. Thanks for the photo tour!


27 steph @ Lick My Spoon July 17, 2010 at 3:34 pm

mmm fatty crispy pork belly buns, how i miss thee. this is one of my favorite dishes in the world. i almost had to end a friendship when i took a girlfriend there once who dared to pick off the fat b/c she was scared of it!


28 White on Rice Couple July 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Steph: are you still friends? ;)


29 bunkycooks July 17, 2010 at 7:11 pm

You’ve gotta love NYC and all the great restaurants! I need a fix every now and then and now I definitely need to get back up there and go to Momofuku. The food looks incredible!


30 Fran July 17, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Wow, that food looks incredible. I haven’t heard of Cereal Milk. Is that milk that’s been in cereal and then strained and served in a glass? I better go to bed now so I don’t go into the kitchen to try to cook something that will help me get over my pork belly craving now!


31 sara July 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

Looks like to much fun. Great food, New York is the doorway to America!



32 Becky July 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I was just at momofuku this past weekend! those pork buns really are god’s work…my sister and i also had their compost and blueberry and cream cookies and inevitably ended up buying more to take home with us.


33 eatinqueens July 19, 2010 at 4:39 am

The food looks incredible!


34 Lisa is Bossy July 19, 2010 at 9:54 am

OMG {HEART} Milk Bar. I rode the cross-town subway by myself at about 11pm (from Chelsea) to get to the East Village and feast on those damn pork buns. Compost cookie – just ok. Cereal milk – interesting but a little too artificial tasting for me (yes I know, that’s the point). But the PORK BUNS. Did you know he has a recipe for them buns in his cookbook? Oh yes….


35 Sherry July 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I used to live a couple blocks away but each time I walked by the long line always put me off the place, especially since there are so many other places in the East Village to go to. And then I left the city without having been there…. I regret I didn’t brave the line at least one. T_T


36 Ivy @ My Simple Food July 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I just learned of this much talk about Momofuku this and tat!! I can’t wait to go to New York to visit eat at their restaurant. Your pics are a great preview!! Thanks.


37 Kristen July 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I bet you had a wonderful time and the most tastiest of adventures. Pork slap… love it!


38 mina (sending postcards) September 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

i wish i had tried the milkbar when i was in nyc – i went to momofuku ko though, and the dessert was my favorite part. oh well, next time!


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