What are your favorite dishes at Momofuku-Ssam?
I'm embarrassed to say that I've only been to Ssam when it first opened and it was in its "fast-food" phase. I've been delaying it--as aware as anyone else that it did a 360 a while ago, and was curious what you guys like there. My foodie brothers and sisters, give it to me! =)
PS how's the butt there, I've heard the spitz about it though I'm curious if it's worth gathering my friends for a feeding frenzy. (mwahaha)
The pork shoulder butt (bo ssam) is awesome but suffers from the following flaws:
1) fatty -- it kind of sits in your stomach like a brick afterwards
2) huge -- with a group of 8, we each had 2-3 servings, and still had some leftover
3) monotonous -- the pork butt could be your entire meal if you wanted it to which means you don't get to try anything else
However, the pro is leftovers! You get "butt lunch" (as my friend calls it) the next day, with all the dipping sauces and Maldon sea salt flakes. Mmmm.
If I were going to Momofuku Ssam Bar as a newbie, I would go with at *least* one other person, hopefully two more people, and do this:
- diver scallops with lemon and pickled cherries (although the watermelon with Maine shrimp and puri has been nice lately, as has the spicy fluke with peaches and fried quinoa)
- the duck ham or a plate of country ham (ask your server for suggestions, some are smokier or saltier or fattier than others)
- chicken pate en croute with pickled shallots and ramp marmalade (if they have it)
- steamed pork buns
- a vegetable dish (greenmarket tomato salad with fried tofu and opal basil has been good lately)
- roasted stone bass with jersey corn, chanterelles, pancetta, lima beans OR pork shoulder steak with zucchini, buttermilk dressing
- strawberry shortcake with whipped creme fraiche
With 2 people I usually get 5-6 dishes.
BTW, Momofuku Ssam Bar will do a $70 tasting menu where the chef picks anything out of the regular menu, typically one from each category. I think they have a fair amount of flexibility in what's in your meal.
I totally agree with kathryn that while the bo ssam was fanastic, it did get monotonus after awhile. I did like it with the oysters (they come with the bo ssam order) with the briny juice to complement the meat.
What I enjoyed the most in the past were the offal dishes (not restricted to the offal section in their menu). There were some dishes like the veal head terrine, beef tongue or lamb tongue salad and even the grilled sweetbreads that did not seem to appear o the current menu, but their menu changes frequently. If you see them and are adventuous, I will highly recommend them.
As for the country ham, my favorite is the Benton's ham. In fact I loved it so much that I order directly from the Benton's website.
Their vegetables are awesome. In the past they had the super additive roasted brussels sprouts or cauliflowers (again, not on the current menu perhaps due to seasonality?), which if you see, should defnitely order.
I am less crazy about the fish, esp. the dishes that involve mussels or clams and such. They never wow'ed me as much as the other dishes.