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Jun 29, 2008 07:43 AM

Momofuku Ssam-Best time to go?

Never tried Ssam yet. What is the best time to go for dinner when the wait is not too long and the service and ambiance is best; Sunday night at say 10-11pm or a Tuesday or Wednesday 9-10pm this week? We will be a 2 top, is it best to sit at the bar or table?

We want to try several dishes, the buns or bahn mi, a ham, vegetable dish, the pork sausage dish and maybe also either the ribeye or hangar steak ssam. Is this too much, or should we add/delete something?

I have heard very little about Ssam's wine list. Is is a decent and varied list and how is it priced? Do they allow corkage?

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  1. I find that service is slightly better at the bar simply because your food gets to you faster (distance from kitchen to your mouth), but it's sometimes a madhouse behind the counter. Both the times you listed will not have a long wait, if any wait at all. I'd say 20 minutes tops. The waits for 2-tops are usually fast. It's the 4 and 6-tops that can kill you.

    I would delete some dishes if you were to get the ribeye. It's a BIG steak. The only people I know who have finished it have been a party of 3 guys who didn't eat anything else at Ssam Bar. I would also recommend that you consider something from the raw bar, and leave room for dessert.

    I'm not a huge wine drinker so I can't tell you much about the list. But I believe you can also ask for the 50 wines under $50 list that Cory Lane (sommelier) has put together. Not sure if they allow corkage.

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      i'm not so sure why there is this notion that it is hard to get into Ssam. It's not. Was there lastnight (sat) arrived at 9, the hostess said twenty minutes, so we went to the back and a quarter of the way through an Anchor Steam they were ready for us. Its always like that, thursday, friday, middle of the winter, summer doesnt matter... for the amount of gushing press Chang gets Ssam is full and busy but almost always not ridiculous...The times the OP wants to go, you should be able to walk in with little or no wait......

      I only drink anchor steam and dr pepper when im at Ssam, but the wine list ecclectic enough to please any wine geek...

      The bar down at the end by the kitchen are the best seats, you get to watch the action also might get something thats not on the menu down there....

      Don't get the ribeye, its a good steak but not indicative of Chang's cooking, its just a good steak...get the Ssam

      1. re: Cpalms

        Of late, I've noticed that Ssam is much less wait time, even during prime hours on prime nights. I guess you could chalk it up to the summer time and people being away, but I also think it has a lot to do with the value proposition or lack thereof. The elimination of the everyday ssams from the menu, and the raising of prices on certain items has made the restaurant much less affordable. Ssam used to come out to be about $40-50/pp(after tax and tip). Lately, it's been closer to $75/pp and at that price point and at that price point, I'm less inclined to return to the restaurant week after week. I'm not saying the food isn't great, but even great food has a value. Take some of the other classic affordable restaurants out there(otto, inoteca, to name a few). Part of the appeal of these places is the feeling that you're getting a high level meal at an everyday price. As good as the food is, if that every day price goes up to high, the whole allure of the restaurant disappears. Just my two cents.

        1. re: MomoMed

          I think the food at Ssam is a great value, even at the higher prices. I think it is simply head and shoulders above Otto. The cooking is more inventive, and they really source amazing meat. The pork dish I had there the other day really blew my mind.

          1. re: MomoMed

            Part of it is Ko -- when the NYT did the review and the NYer did a profile, immediately afterwards Ssam Bar was swamped with a lot of people who wanted to try his cooking but couldn't get into Ko.

            I myself haven't noticed that much raising of prices but I also haven't been looking for them.

      2. One thing I will say about when to go is that the meals I've had on Thursday - Saturday have been much better cooked than the meals I've had on Sundays or Mondays.

        Corkage is 35 but there are lots of decent inexpensive wines and the mark up doesn't seem to me to be too crazy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brooklyndude

          i went on a friday at 6:15 and it was pretty empty. was seated at the bar which was fine.