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Jul 12, 2009 08:42 PM

Momofuku Milk Bar Review

Alright so I just posted my very long and detailed Momofuku Ssam review the other day and my fingers are still hurting from all of that typing so I am going to try to keep this one short and sweet. While I left Momofuku Ssam quite disappointed and let down, I really liked Momofuku Milk Bar.

I will start off by saying the staff is great. They are all extremely cheerful from the cashier, to the cake cutter, to the cookie bagger- all really helpful, upbeat, and nice personalities. And they are always willing to give you a sample of the soft serve of your choice (while the sign says one per customer I actually tried three). Also cool they let you have complimentary water and coffee off to the side. Only negative is it is kinda small and cramped and there are no seats. You must eat at the tables standing up.

Now onto what I got. I came here after my huge meal at Ssam so I didn't really get a chance to eat much while I was in the Milk Bar. So I basically ordered a whole bunch of stuff to go and finally got to tuck into them tonight....

Pistachio Cake- Cake was moist, but I think the Lemon filling kind of overpowered the other elements of the cake. I would have liked more pistachio flavor and pistachio buttercream. I don't think that lemon and pistachio really work well together. I think maybe white chocolate or hazelnut would have been better, or even more pistachio filling. Nevertheless, still tasty.

Dulce De Leche- This cake really didn't do it for me. I just tasted sweet. No realy strong caramel flavor and the cake was rather pedrestrian vanilla.

Banana Cake- Now this was outstanding! Definitely the best of the bunch... The cake was like a banana bread and is extremely moist. Banana and gianduja fudge filling really complement each other and then the hazelnut crunch topping adds another element. When getting each of these in one forkful you get a great piece of cake.

Chocolate chocolate chip cookie, Blueberry cream, and Cornflake marshmallow- All were terrific. I think their cookies and better than the cakes. The chocolate chocolate chip was so rich and tasted more like a brownie. The blueberry cream was also delicious and was basically a sugar cookie chock full of blueberries. Finally, the cornflake marshmallow chocolate is a real standout. Lots of gooey marshmallow and the cornflake provides a great crunch to complement the richness of the chocolate chips. Overall, terrific cookies and they were all a great size. Only regret I had was they didn't have the corn cookie, which I HAVE to get when I go back as I am a lover of all things corn.

Finally I got a sample each of blackberry, apricot, and rosemary soft serves. They were all really really intense flavors. I love blackberry, but surprisingly that didn't do it for me. The rosemary also was very powerful and not my cup of tea (not a big rosemary fan anyway). But the apricot was the star. Definitely my favorite of the bunch, very citrusy, clean, and refreshing, more like orange.

Next time I want to try the strawberry milk, chocolate chip cake, and that corn cookie. I will definitely be back.

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  1. you have to do the candy bar pie...but yes, the cookies are the standouts.

    its an ultra rich place and it succeeds overall. i too am very disappointed usually with the momofuku places but the milk bar delivers.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sam1

      Oh yeah and I forgot to add I also had the crack pie... and I really liked that too. It was incredibly sweet and simple. Basically like a pecan pie sort of without the pecans. I really enjoyed the texture and the taste.

      Got to add the brownie pie and banana cookie to my "to try" list.

      1. re: steakrules85

        I adore the crack pie. You might also like the corn cookies.

      1. i had a taste of that rosemary ice cream - UGH. it was salty and buttery, which sounds good, but it just isn't. the lemon verbena was not so great either, but tasted better after the horror that was rosemary. i can't imagine anyone ordering/eating a full-size cup.

        18 Replies
        1. re: janethepain

          I agree jane. The rosemary was pretty terrible. As I stated I am not the biggest rosemary fan to begin with but after one spoonful I had my fill. I don't know how anyone could eat a whole serving. OOFA.

          1. re: steakrules85

            they had some apricot soft serve that tasted like cold children's medicine...and not in a good way.

            1. re: sam1

              given MMB's snarky pride in using ingredients like crushed potato chips and store-bought cereal, i wouldn't be surprised if they did use children's cold medicine...

              1. re: sam1

                the cherry flavor that I had today also tasted like cold medicine

              2. re: kathryn

                I happen to like the rosemary flavor too!

              3. re: janethepain

                Yuck, I wasn't impressed by the soft serves either. The blackberry was the best of the bunch (apricot, lemon verbena, rosemary), which isn't saying much. I regretfully ordered a cup of half lemon/half bberry, and it tasted like a fragrant perfume/bath soap.


                1. re: LeahBaila

                  To be contrary, I like the soft serves. The flavors they use are unlike anywhere else, including Asian-style ice cream shops. There's less focus on pure sweetness, and more on a sweet-savory-salty (rosemary, salty pistacio) or sweet-sour (apricot) flavor. To balance it out I usually get a topping. With my salty pistacio I got dried pineapple, which provided sour and sweet to go with creamy, nutty, and salty, and was just perfect. With the rosemary I got the olive oil cake, making a dessert version of one of my favorite combos- rosemary-olive bread with butter, only sweeter and more rich. Sounds weird, and it is, but that's the point- savory-sweet desserts that are child-like yet challenging. As I ate it the olive oil gelato at Otto (topped with salt) came to mind. You wouldn't think it works but it does. And to me the apricot (which I couldn't stop stealing from my friend) had a rare apricot flavor- a sour-sweetness that's hard to find even in the fresh fruit. Lemon verbena I didn't care for, as it was too floral, but what do you expect for a lemony herb? Anyway, to the naysayers I challenge you to go back to the odder soft serves and pair it with a contrasting topping and see what you think.

                  1. re: Spoony Bard

                    Hi Spoony, great post and I respect your feedback. I didn't even think to add toppings to my soft serve, and will definitely do so the next time I'm there. Agreed re: the flavor of the apricot, I suppose I'm just not an "apricot person."
                    You're a great writer, btw.


                    1. re: LeahBaila

                      Thanks, Leah. Not sure why I got so lyrical there! I guess I really like the whimsical (yet casual) ambition of the place. I think it's worth another shot. Not everyone will enjoy it, but I've found at least one or two of the soft serve that worked for me each time I visit, and the toppings help with balancing the strong flavors.

                  2. re: LeahBaila

                    LOLs, I can really imagine that. Once I ate a rose-lychee macaron that tasted and smelled exactly like soap!

                    1. re: windycity

                      I was about to say, if it sounds like a soap, chances are it's going to taste like one too. Rose ice cream always sounds so good, but the only good version I've had was mixed with Indian spices.

                      Momofuku's Lemon Verbena wasn't nearly as bath product tasting as I expected, and it was light by their standards....but it also wasn't as inventive as I expected either (especially after having recently tried the excellent Honey Thyme from Humphrey Slocombe in SF).

                      I have to wonder though, how anyone eats a cup of the stuff?
                      I always lose the flavors before I've even finished the sample size. The richness and sugar drowns everything out. The lemon verbana started to taste like a frozen yogurt instead of soft serve.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        The funny thing is, I'm a sucker for unusual ice cream flavors. If it's herbal/flowery/tea, I'm all over it. I was very excited to try the lemon verbena and rosemary ice creams (blackberry and apricot? bo-ring), but DAMN. two of us couldn't even finish the sample cup. I took a taste of the lemon verbena and it was tart but.... just not tasty to me. Then i tried the rosemary and gagged instantly. I'm not sure what it is, it tastes very full, round and salty, like a strange butter-flavored ice cream (which normally sounds good - I love butter). I gave it a few more tries, but just couldn't enjoy it. So then I used the lemon verbena as a palate cleanser, cos after rosemary, it tasted better.

                        This isn't to say that I don' t like the Milk Bar or their ice creams. On the contrary, I totally understand what she's doing, why she's doing it, why we try the stuff out. It just so happens that I don't like those two flavors this month. Will I be back next month to see what she comes up with? Yes. Will I like it? Maybe not, but I'll definitely try it.

                        1. re: janethepain

                          I also love the unusual flavors, and hope NY will catch up to other regions in that department. Unfortunately, our artisanal ice cream is usually too pricey, and rarely hits the mark for being both inventive and tasty too.

                          Where else have you found unusual flavors you liked?

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            I think Capogiro Gelato in Philly does an amazing job with unusual flavors that actually taste good. They have a tremendous lime with cilantro. I've also had their cucumber vodka, which wasn't my favorite but grapefruit campari is refreshing.

                            1. re: windycity

                              Sounds amazing! I want that (in NY) !!!

                              1. re: windycity

                                OH $#@%! Cilantro?! awesome. i'm going to philly tomorrow, I'm going to try my darndest to get there.

                                1. re: janethepain

                                  Oh let me know what you get. It's so worth it, and bigger portions than grom (it'd be hard to get smaller.) My friend jokes that I only visit her for the gelato. She's only half right.

                            2. re: janethepain

                              I agree that I'll try the flavors. But really, that chocolate donut flavor was so terrible that I don't think I'm in a hurry to go back there period.

                              I tried the pandan frozen yogurt at Baoguette a while back and it was interesting.

                              Also there's an ice cream shop in Jersey city that has lots of interesting tropical fruit flavors including mamey. I had a phenomenal pistachio cherry there.

                    2. With all due respect to the Empire - the milk bar slightly short delivers. Granted it has some of the most creative "simple" desserts, I left feeling a little empty. Maybe it's ok, but somehow I was expecting more...shame on me

                      1. the milk bar cookies continue to bum me out... if you get them piping fresh than they're better but generally speaking, at least for my tastes, they're just too cute. i like my cookies a little more straight forward, without marshmallow and corn flakes. but hey, that's' just me.

                        agreed w/the consensus and leah lady lunch belle, don't get people's love for the soft serve. the flavors are too artificial, it'd rather have a $2 cone of mr. softee anyday.

                        On the flip side, the Crack and Brownie pies are fantastic. Both are incredibly rich and quote unique... they're the reason i keeep going back.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: iFat

                          ...Just saw your "Cookies Across the City" video. You guys are adorable and so are the two lil' tikes. :)


                          1. re: iFat

                            I feel the same way about their cookies, which were more unsettling than complex, in my book....I get the feeling they're aiming for guilty pleasures sometimes...
                            that said, I really liked the Blueberry cookie for something interesting yet straight forward.