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What to have at Momofuku Ssam?

Hello, based on what I've read, I've narrowed down a few dishes. Would appreciate some thoughts on the same. It's a group of 4 people who'll be having dinner there. We're open to eating/trying anything. I'm not sure if this'll be too much/too little for us.

1. spanish mackerel – black garlic, strawberry, lime (i did not see anyone recommending this but it looked interesting)
2. seasonal pickles
3. steamed buns – pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions (of course!)
4. benton’s smoky mountain ham (madisonville, tn) (how salty is this in comparison to some of the others?)
5. honeycrisp apple kimchi – maple labne, jowl bacon, arugula
6. veal sweetbreads – goat cheese, watermelon, almond (did not see any recommendations for this either)
7. charred spanish octopus – pine nuts, celery, black olive
8. bev eggleston’s pork shoulder steak – blue cheese, peach, shishito
9. spicy pork sausage & rice cakes – chinese broccoli, sichuan peppercorn
10. They just have 2 desserts on the menu so both I guess:
- tri-star stawberry sorbet – celery root, ritz crunch
- corn ice cream pie – raspberries, thai basil

Some other things that looked interesting:
1. maine uni – heirloom tomato, cantaloupe, shiso
2. jerusalem artichoke soup – snails, pork jowl, jalapeno
3. roasted maitake – olive berry, liver mousse, purslane
4. beef tendon – beets, mustard seeds, chicharon

Thanks!

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  1. I highly recommend whatever raw fish preps they have on offer, and the sausage/rice cakes.

    1. That looks like just slightly too much food but if you're big eaters you might be OK. We usually get 4-5 things for 2 people.

      However, you're going to want to double up on pork buns since they are only 2 per order. I'd narrow it down to 7 savories and both desserts, maybe.

      The Benton's smoky mountain ham is definitely on the salty side, but not overwhelmingly so.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Double up? Heck triple up on those things! Make sure to get an order for each person. There are 2 buns per order. If you order only 2 servings for your table, you'll be left wanting more. The whole fish dish changes depending upon what fresh fish they can get but I highly recommend getting whatever it is. Don't forget oysters.

        1. re: Bkeats

          I would advise against eating more than one bun if you want to try other items. They expand in your stomach.

          1. re: kathryn

            But in the nicest way. One is never enough for me. Hasn't kept me from eating plenty of other stuff. I'm a glutton.

      2. The rotisserie duck is one of the best things on their menu. Perhaps consider ordering a whole duck for your group in addition to a few of the items you listed above.

        1. Thanks! So based on the suggestions, 7-8 savory dishes:

          1. seasonal pickles
          2. steamed buns – pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions (of course!)
          3. benton’s smoky mountain ham (madisonville, tn) (how salty is this in comparison to some of the others?)
          4. honeycrisp apple kimchi – maple labne, jowl bacon, arugula
          5. bev eggleston’s pork shoulder steak – blue cheese, peach, shishito
          6. spicy pork sausage & rice cakes – chinese broccoli, sichuan peppercorn

          2 out of:

          1. Whole fish of the day
          2. Raw fish preps - Any recommendations from amongst the Oysters, Bass, Mackerel and Uni?
          3. veal sweetbreads – goat cheese, watermelon, almond (did not see any recommendations for this either)

          Just curious is the rice cakes dish anything like the bacon-rice cakes dish at Mission with sausage instead of bacon? That is a phenomenal dish!

          6 Replies
          1. re: indiefoodie

            Don't know if Momofuku's rice calke dish is the same as the one at Mission, but I've never heard enthusiastic comments about Momofuku's overly spicy rice cake dish from anybody that I've sent over there or others that I know who dined there. I personally hate it. Your other dishes are OK. You're missing out on the terrrific rotisserie duck, though.

            Also, I'm sure you'd get an order or 2 more of the pork bun after you've tasted it. It's a winner!

            1. re: indiefoodie

              The raw fish preps are small, appetizer sized dishes. Not really equivalent to the larger entrees like the whole fish.

              The rice cakes at Momofuku Ssam are cut differently. Smaller and more cylindrical, and the outside is charred. Whereas Mission has round flat disks. Also the sausage component of the dish at Ssam is more like a ragu or chili. It's a very different dish. No celery or black beans. I like the dish but it is awfully filling; it's one of my husband's favorites though.

              1. re: kathryn

                The rice cakes and spicy sausage are NOTHING like mission or noodle bar. They are more akin to an Asian version of gnocchi and bolognese. This is my all time fave momofuku dish, and IMHO one of nyc's top 5 dishes. Simply amazing.

                1. re: projectbennett

                  I agree, love the rice cakes. Just don't make the mistake of letting them sit around too much while you focus on other things as they are really best soon after they come out.

              2. re: indiefoodie

                I had that sweetbreads dish relatively recently. I thought it was excellent.

                1. re: indiefoodie

                  The rice cakes at Ssam are more akin to the Korean dish ddubokki, with the slightly spicy sauce and the way the cylindrical rice cakes are cut. I really love the dish (even more than the awesome Korean street food) for the crispiness the outside of the rice cakes achieves and the crumbled pork sausage is great.

                  The rice cakes at Mission Chinese are a totally different animal, more reminiscent of the Chinese stir-fried rice cakes - except Mission Chinese uses a spicy sauce instead of the traditional Shanghainese style gravy.

                2. In September, two of us had the pork buns, bread, uni with cantaloupe, soft shell crab, and lamb. I had sampled heavily earlier in the day (La Maison du Macaron, Russ & Dtrs, Katz's, Yonah Schimmel Knishery, Chop Shop, Donut Plant--don't judge, it's just a point of reference!) and my husband was famished, so it was the right amount of food for us. Of course we loved the pork buns! If I had my normal appetite, the lamb would not have been a sufficient "large plate". Out of our other dishes, they were all good but not individually memorable, which is unfortunate in that I can't give better descriptions beyond my general impression, but I will say we absolutely loved our meal, and it was one of our most enjoyable overall restaurant experiences of recent memory. The crab was my 2nd favorite, after the buns, which is saying a lot, because normally I don't love the texture of soft shell. The uni was fun in that we do not often find it outside of sushi joints, but I found the preparation a bit disjointed. We were both too full for dessert, but stopped at Milk Bar for the cereal milk soft serve anyway. This was the right dessert for the night and we ate it as we walked back to Chelsea, yet neither of us finished our cones. Also, since you're on site, I recommend a cocktail or more at Booker and Dax.