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What to have at Momofuku Ssam?

i
indiefoodie Oct 10, 2012 11:10 AM

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!

  1. rose water Oct 10, 2012 11:21 AM

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

    1. k
      kathryn Oct 10, 2012 12:06 PM

      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
        b
        Bkeats Oct 10, 2012 12:50 PM

        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
          k
          kathryn Oct 10, 2012 05:09 PM

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

          1. re: kathryn
            b
            Bkeats Oct 10, 2012 07:27 PM

            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. p
        peter j Oct 10, 2012 12:09 PM

        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. i
          indiefoodie Oct 10, 2012 01:43 PM

          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
            r
            RCC Oct 10, 2012 05:10 PM

            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
              k
              kathryn Oct 10, 2012 05:11 PM

              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
                p
                projectbennett Oct 10, 2012 10:38 PM

                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
                  l
                  lucyj Oct 13, 2012 04:41 PM

                  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
                MVNYC Oct 13, 2012 10:51 AM

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

                1. re: indiefoodie
                  zeeEats Sep 30, 2013 08:19 AM

                  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. g
                  GourmetWednesday Oct 10, 2012 06:54 PM

                  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.

                  1. s
                    suckeriove Oct 12, 2012 03:08 PM

                    Hey,

                    So I eat at Ssam almost every week, and based on the current menu, I would skip the pork buns (unless you've never had Momofuku pork buns ever), and absolutely skip the ham. Must eats are the rice cakes, the market greens, anything off the raw bar, the new goat sandwich, the noodles, the apple kimchi (i am obsessed), and the large format pancake cake dessert if they still have it.

                    1. sgordon Oct 13, 2012 08:02 AM

                      Absolutely get the uni - whatever prep they do actually, it's an ingredient the kitchen really has an affinity for - and get two orders if it's for four people.
                      Also definitely get the liver mousse - it's fantastic. One order would be enough for the four of you on that one.

                      Then, I'd get almost everything in your first ten. I'd probably skip the ham plate - if I want ham on a plate, I'll go buy some good ham retail. It's not really cheffed up enough for me to warrant the price.

                      If I were to drop anything else from it, it'd be either the pork buns or the apple kimchi, as those are things that are always on the menu. That said, a meal at Ssam without at least one pork buns just doesn't feel right.

                      You might not need BOTH the pork steak and the sausage & rice cakes - but if you're good eaters, you'll do fine.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sgordon
                        k
                        kathryn Oct 13, 2012 08:05 AM

                        The apple kimchi is seasonal -- it's only on the menu in the fall.

                        1. re: kathryn
                          s
                          suckeriove Oct 13, 2012 08:42 AM

                          Right, and it's fall now... So?

                          1. re: suckeriove
                            k
                            kathryn Oct 13, 2012 08:57 AM

                            So...I would order it, because it's really good and not available year-round. Whereas sgordon recommended to drop it because it's available all the time. Someone reading this thread a few months from now may not realize.

                      2. i
                        indiefoodie Apr 1, 2013 09:13 PM

                        Hi, unfortunately, my original Momofuku plans fell through because of Sandy and it took 5 months to give it another shot :) The menu has changed a little and I'm planning on skipping the pork steak so I was hoping to get some comments on the choice of dishes. We're 4 people.

                        1. Santa Barbara Uni
                        2. Striped Bass
                        3. Spanish mackerel
                        4. Seasonal Pickles
                        5. Steamed Buns - 2 orders
                        6. Fuji apple kimchi
                        7. Charred Spanish octopus
                        8. Pork sausage and rice cakes
                        9. Wanted to try a fish dish. Any recommendations?

                        And, we'll get dessert. Does this look OK? Thank you!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: indiefoodie
                          d
                          deprofundis Apr 1, 2013 09:27 PM

                          You'll probably need to order more for 4 people.

                          1. re: indiefoodie
                            k
                            kathryn Apr 1, 2013 09:28 PM

                            Recent similar thread:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/894696

                            Start with a dozen oysters w/ kombu mignonette, and drop one of the two raw fish dishes. They are petite and each person will get maybe 2 bites if you share among four.

                            If you've never had their country ham with redeye gravy, get one of those.

                            Overall, you're probably a bit too heavy on the fish dishes. You probably don't need to add one for #9 -- try something else, maybe more "meat"-y for variety.

                            Fuji apple kimchi with maple labne - you probably need 2 orders for the 4 of you.

                            1. re: kathryn
                              sgordon Apr 1, 2013 09:32 PM

                              I'd double up and do two orders of the uni. It's a perfect size to split for two. Most of th he "raw" dishes are around that size.

                              I'd consider adding the mushroom / liver dish as well, good size for four as it's very rich.

                              1. re: kathryn
                                i
                                indiefoodie Apr 2, 2013 09:17 AM

                                Thanks! Any suggestions for a "meat-y" dish? Should I go back to the pork steak? I originally was planning to get that but then read a few review about it being less than stellar.

                                1. re: indiefoodie
                                  s
                                  suckeriove Apr 2, 2013 09:22 AM

                                  Because there are four of you I would consider the Rib Eye.

                                  1. re: suckeriove
                                    k
                                    kathryn Apr 2, 2013 10:11 AM

                                    The ribeye varies widely in size, though. If it is too big, it will throw the OP's entire plan off.

                                  2. re: indiefoodie
                                    sgordon Apr 2, 2013 09:35 AM

                                    The rice cakes & sausage is pretty meaty, but if it's "big hunk of meat" you're thinking, yeah, the pork steak (which is good, but nothing I'd go out of my way for) or rib-eye if you really want to splurge.

                                    You can also try to book the Duck Ssam as you "meat" dish - that way you have a reservation as well.

                                    I guess if I were dining with a four-top, and money was no object, my order would break down into "courses" something like:

                                    Dozen Oysters to start

                                    Raw Apps:
                                    two orders of everything else from the raw bar section

                                    Cooked Apps:
                                    Charred Octopus
                                    Veal Head Terrine
                                    Roasted Maitake

                                    Entree:
                                    Duck Ssam
                                    OR
                                    Ribeye

                                    Dessert:
                                    Whatever looks good.

                                    True, I didn't list the buns or kimchi/labne or rice cakes, but I've had those a million times. So that's just my order, above. Chances are we'd wind up ordering some buns, anyway.

                                2. re: indiefoodie
                                  i
                                  indiefoodie Apr 2, 2013 09:18 AM

                                  If I had to choose one between the Raw striped bass and the mackerel, which one should I pick?
                                  Also, I saw pretty decent review for the goat sandwich which unfortunately is not the menu anymore but has anyone tried the duck sandwich instead? How is that? Thanks!

                                3. i
                                  indiefoodie Apr 4, 2013 06:58 PM

                                  Thank you everyone for the advice. Here's what we ended up getting,

                                  1. Oysters with Kombu Mignonette - Very good
                                  2. Santa Barbara Uni - Good
                                  3. Striped Bass - Excellent, probably my fav. of the night
                                  4. Seasonal Pickles - Good
                                  5. Steamed Buns - Good
                                  6. Fuji apple kimchi - Very good
                                  7. Charred Spanish octopus - Good
                                  8. Pork sausage and rice cakes - Very good
                                  9. Pork steak - Good
                                  10. Desserts: The special - layered pancakes with bacon a peppery sauce - Not good

                                  The smaller plates/appetizers were probably a little better than the entrees (which seems to be the general trend that I've noticed at nice restaurants). Good service. The only thing that was bad was the dessert. It was a special recommended by our server and at $24 wasn't really cheap. Cold, hard, layered pancakes with bacon on the side and a sauce that was very salty and very-very peppery. I really did not understand the point of this dish. He did say that it was a breakfasty dessert but IMO, it should not have made it to their menu at all.

                                  A fun meal on the whole. I would love to go back to try their duck ssam dinner. How does that work BTW? Is it a fixed quantity or do they adjust it based on the number of people (3-6) that you make reservations for? Thanks!

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: indiefoodie
                                    Rmis32 Jun 19, 2013 01:51 PM

                                    I believe you must order the duck in advance. We were a party of 6 last week. They brought out the whole duck, in all its golden brown glory, and then carved it and brought it back out with greens, pancakes a bed of rice and 4 sauces.

                                    We had a few sides with it and it was plenty of food. The duck was cooked perfectly. I'm salivating just thinking of it.

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: Rmis32
                                      m
                                      magic Sep 29, 2013 06:57 PM

                                      I'm coming in from out of town and would like to order the whole duck ssam.

                                      Thing is, there will only be 2 of us eating.

                                      Does Ssam Bar do a downsized version of this dish? I'm more into the pancake than rice, really - so am unsure of the duck over rice set.

                                      Would 2 people be able to hand this all on their own, or is that foolish?

                                      Anyone?

                                      1. re: magic
                                        k
                                        kathryn Sep 29, 2013 07:35 PM

                                        The rotisserie duck group meal is just a bigger version of the same rotisserie duck they serve at lunch.

                                        If there are only 2 of you, and you don't want to waste food, you should go for lunch.
                                        http://momofuku.com/new-york/ssam-bar...

                                        1. re: kathryn
                                          m
                                          magic Sep 29, 2013 07:52 PM

                                          Thanks Kathryn, appreciated :)

                                          1. re: magic
                                            b
                                            Bkeats Sep 30, 2013 10:26 AM

                                            My recollection is that someone on this board did have the duck ssam with only two and there were a ton of leftover that were packed to go. You can do it, but since you're from out of town, I'm not sure what you would do with the leftovers. Duck is great.

                                            1. re: Bkeats
                                              m
                                              magic Sep 30, 2013 10:48 AM

                                              Yeah, exactly. Ok, this is good to know. I shall get a smaller, more manageable version.

                                              1. re: magic
                                                b
                                                Bkeats Sep 30, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                Found the old link if you're interested

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7936...

                                                1. re: Bkeats
                                                  m
                                                  magic Sep 30, 2013 12:04 PM

                                                  Perfect, I'll have a look now, thanks :)

                                                  1. re: magic
                                                    ellenost Sep 30, 2013 01:13 PM

                                                    Ssam Bar now requires a minimum of 3 for the Duck Ssam (I guess they were packing up too much food for take home for the parties of 2 including me).

                                                    1. re: ellenost
                                                      m
                                                      magic Sep 30, 2013 01:32 PM

                                                      Then there you have it! A non-issue.

                                                      Thanks ellenost.

                                  2. CFByrne May 7, 2013 05:01 PM

                                    I am dining here tomorrow (Wed), solo, for lunch.

                                    I want to try everything - but that won't be possible of course. I have no frig in my hotel so leftovers won't even work!

                                    Would someone be so kind as to propose The Perfect Solo Lunch?

                                    I love duck and pork. I am coming from South Florida so fresh seafood is NOT that huge of an attraction as far as "unusual" goes.

                                    Thanks much.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: CFByrne
                                      k
                                      kathryn May 7, 2013 05:08 PM

                                      Duck over rice, add the scallion pancake. And also the Fuji apple kimchi. I assume you've realized the weekday lunch menu is very different from the dinner menu.

                                      1. re: kathryn
                                        CFByrne May 8, 2013 01:42 AM

                                        Thanks Kathyrn.

                                        Yes, I've been browsing the lunch menu here:

                                        http://momofuku.com/new-york/ssam-bar...

                                        "Duck over rice, add the scallion pancake. And also the Fuji apple kimchi" it is!

                                        1. re: CFByrne
                                          r
                                          RCC May 8, 2013 06:14 AM

                                          An order of the Pork in Steamed Buns to start with is well worth it, imho, for a duck and pork lover like you.

                                        2. re: kathryn
                                          CFByrne May 13, 2013 06:50 PM

                                          Thanks for the advice. My Wednesday afternoon (3PM just before closing) lunch was terrific!

                                          * Rotisserie Duck Over Rice Set - Rotisserie Duck over rice w/ lettuce and chive pancake, side choice of seasonal pickles $20

                                          * Fuji Apple Kimchi - Maple Labne, Jowl Bacon, Arugula $13

                                          Photos:

                                          Entry
                                          Kitchen winding down after lunch rush
                                          Main dining room
                                          Duck set
                                          Duck set
                                          Pickles
                                          Apple Kimchi

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
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