When we went to New York (for the first time!) last year, we had quite the list of potential restaurant to hit. Since we had very few scheduled events for the week, we didn’t know where we’d be nor when we’d be there, so we sprinkled our wishlist with potential restaurants to visit al across town. NYC is a target-rich environment: at last count, the city had over 27,000 restaurants to choose from!
We traveled to the Big Apple to gawk at architecture (Donald Judd, Calatrava, Manhattan, the High Line, the Guggenheim, among others) and street art. While food wasn’t the destination, we did partake of some fine chow. As it so happened, while chasing down some street art in East Village, hunger pangs panged and, after checking our map, saw that the original Momofuku Noodle Bar was right around the corner.
Momofuku Noodle Bar is where David Chang started his Momofuku empire in 2004, an empire which now extends across the metropolis but also to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Sydney. The name Momofuku comes in part from the inventor of instant ramen (Momofuku Ando) and in part from Samuel L. Jackson’s most famous utterance (see, for example, Snakes on a Plane).
Momofuku is side-street small but bright with honey-toned wood. The furniture is delightfully minimal and Judd-esque (I need to return with a tape measure…). We sat at the bar and started with a Spicy Lychee Soju Slushy ($7) the potato gnocchi with mushroom sauce special (OMG). We followed that up with a couple ramens that were lip-smacking good a la Ramen Tatsu-ya but with the Chang bang. Items are seasonal (and I sadly hadn’t started photographing menus and receipts at this point in my life). We still talk about this meal almost six months later, which should tell you something.
web&where: interwebs;171 1st avenue, new york
what’s the deal? David Chang’s first ramen joint; walk-in table service
overall: **** (food****; drink***; atmosphere***; service***; instagrammability****)
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]