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Mar 25, 2009 08:22 PM

Momofuku Milk Bar lives up to the hype

I wasn't sure if it would, but it did. Went last night with a friend. Here's my review. I have photos of the space up on my blog (see below).

First impressions--good vibe. The entrance is actually around the corner on 13th, not on 2nd, but you can see everything going on in the place b/c of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Last night, the crowd was downtown couples, hipsters, Asian foodies, and Momofuku Ssam reservation holders (the ones wearing the ties) standing around, eating out of cardboard containers. (Milk Bar is linked to Ssam by a hallway)

Between the two of us, we had:

* Pork Buns: slices of pork belly cradled in Chinese buns; very tasty, although the roast pork at Big Wong's still can't be beat (2 for $9)
* Cereal milk: let cornflakes sit in milk until soggy; strain and serve in soda cup, and you have a hit on your hands; I admire the creative effort, but this drink was just too weird for me; then again, I'm not crazy about cereal; also served as frozen yogurt - the people standing nearby seemed to be enjoying their froot loop flavored fro yo
* Composte cookie: this chocolate chip cookie supposedly contains potato chips, pretzels and other stuff in it; the cookie retains the crunch of the chips - I had thought they were cornflakes, but cornflakes were on the brain, b/c of the above; good texture, crispy on the edges with a chewy center peak, just how I liked my cookies, but very rich ($1.75 each)
* Candy Bar pie: this thing called to us from the display case - topped with chocolate covered pretzels, in the cut view, you can see the chocolate crust, peanut butter filling, caramel oozing out the sides and topped with a layer of hard chocolate; if you're into salty and sweet - this will hit the spot; what a Reeses would be if it grew up and moved to NYC
* Key Lime cake: the surprise winner of the night; took a slice home for City Guy, who likes fruity desserts. With competition from all the above, I have a feeling the key lime cake gets overlooked here. The girl who packed it up for me hadn't even tried it. But I tried a bite when City Guy was enjoying it later and wow - this is amazing cake - the cake layer is flavorful, but not too fluffy or dense; sour cream frosting that tastes homemade and a surprising layer of crispy graham crumbs and a base of graham crackers ($5/slice)

Really fun little spot and I definitely want to go back. Glad to say for once, the food has lived up to the hype. What looked good for next time: crack pie, dulce de leche cake, cinnamon bun pie and blueberry cream cookie.

Momofuku Milk Bar
251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

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  1. Hm, I've never tried to drink the cereal milk straight up, and I'm not sure that's the point. When they have a salty option for the ice creams, try making a milk shake with it - cereal milk plus salty pistachio was my favorite combo early on. Plus, if you can make it to Ko, you might get lucky and score the cereal milk pana cotta, which is sublime.

    But drinking it? Never tried, don't think I want to...

    1 Reply
    1. re: cjd260

      I have seen plenty of people drinking the cereal milk straight up so I disagree with you that its "not the point." On the other hand, I agree with you that it is not my thing...

      As for other items, I have enjoyed the compost cookie, but in general have found the desserts (inlcuding that cookie) too sweet. Looking forward to trying the key lime! I have loved all of the savory items at Milk Bar.

    2. The key lime cake is pretty new, and I think that's why people haven't given it much attention. Also I think you either LOVE key lime pie or hate it, so it's not as accessible as, say, the dulce de leche or chocolate cakes. BTW, that is actually lime curd on top. They don't actually make a lot of cakes with traditional frosting there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        The key lime cake was their first dessert that I didn't like - oddly enough, my BF, who usually complains about how sweet their desserts are - loved it. It had an odd taste I didn't like, almost like soap, or too much baking powder. My favorite new item (at least new to me) is the banana cake - sweet, salty, crunchy, intensely flavored. Fortunately I live close enough to bring the desserts home to eat them in multiple servings.

      2. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Momofuku a lot -- I've gone for dessert on my last three visits to the East Village. I just don't know if it lives up to all that hype (and, again, don't get me wrong -- I, too, think that David Chang is a cross between Jesus, Michael Phelps, and Sully of Flight 1549 fame.). But Milk Bar is a little too gimmicky without all the comfort and craveable creativity of the other Momofuku places. Instead the creativity comes off as just a little, umm, weird. Crack pie, compost cookies, and cereal milk may be great for a one-time try but, after all the build-up, they don't quite satisfy.

        Call me a hypocrite, though: I'll definitely be back for a slice of Brownie Pie the next time I'm in the city.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Kaelin

          I love the place for takeout. It's nice when it's quiet, but I've been there when it's packed with noisy jerks. And it's not exactly cozy. But if you're home and comfortable it's fun to have an unusual sweet. I just ignore the hype (and the crowds) and judge the place on its merit.

          1. re: Kaelin

            I don't think it's worth deification as a dessert place, but on those occasions when I am completely off the wagon, a pork & egg bun and a milkshake make the best take-out weekend breakfast I've ever had. I can't get enough. Plus, on a Sunday at noon there's nobody there.

          2. Um - the Candy Bar Pie sounds exactly like a Hershey's Take Five bar: pretzels, peanut butter, caramel, chocolate. I'm certain the ingredients are a lot better than what Hershey uses, but how is this especially creative? Their Crack Pie sounds like a typical British treacle tart; the Compost Cookie is just a suburban ranger cookie with a lot of junk food in it (original ranger cookies had cornflakes or potato chips in them). I dunno; this just sounds like a lot of recycling to me.

            3 Replies
            1. re: soyarra

              She's definitely influenced by the Take 5 candy bar:

              This topic is from March 2009 and the menu is different now, BTW.

              1. re: kathryn

                Has anyone else found the baked goods to taste slightly more industrial now that it's a bigger operation? I loved getting a slice of cake (and making it last for about 4 servings). Now the slices of cake has been replaced with cake truffles, which are good but not as much of a treat for me. And everything is pre-bagged. I may sound like a kook here, but wrapping up baked goods in plastic doesn't enhance their flavor as much as baking them on the premises and serving them as fresh as possible.

                1. re: hungrycomposer

                  I'm with you on the pre-bagged thing, never liked it myself. However, I have to say the change I'm MOST bummed about is that they no longer offer day-old cookies!! That was my sole reason for going there (and the occasional crack pie and sample of a usually disgusting soft serve), because unfortunately on a grad school budget, $0.85 cookies are MUCH more appealing than $2.00 ones. They seriously always tasted the same to me, not stale at all (though maybe that's because of the annoying packaging!), and I'm so upset they don't offer them anymore. I wonder what they do now with the day-olds, because they must still have them, they just aren't selling them.

            2. Milk Bar will open a new branch on 87th and Columbus next month.