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Monday, September 02, 2013

Momofuku Noodle Bar fried chicken, Momofuku Ssam Bar and Momofuku Milk Bar

momofuku fried chicken at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang

Two whole fried chickens - one prepared Southern-style with buttermilk and Old Bay; the other done Korean-style, triple fried and served with a spicy glaze. This, my friends, is the Momofuku fried chicken platter - no cutlery required.

There was only one restaurant booking I made ahead of our recent USA trip, and that was for Momofuku fried chicken. When this was first added to the menu at Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2009, everyone wanted in on the chicken. The chicken has to be ordered in advance via their online booking system, and securing a reservation was like winning the lottery.

momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku Noodle Bar 

I made our reservation for 2pm on a weekday, and when we arrive we find the place is still busy but not full. The frontage to Momofuku Noodle Bar is deliberately inconspicuous. No flashy signage or decor - just the Momofuku logo on the glass entry door.

stool counter seating at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Stools at the counter

Stool seating runs the length of the room, starting at the bar area and finishing right opposite the pans in the kitchen. Heads are buried deep into ramen bowls but there's nary a slurp to be heard above the din of chatter.

yuzu slushy grape slushies at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Yuzu Palmer and grape slushies US$10

We'd been warned to arrive promptly. The fried chicken is dispatched from the kitchen no later than fifteen minutes after your booking. Yuzu and grape slushies keep us occupied while we wait - they're deliciously cold and refreshing on a hot day, with fine ice crystals and an alcoholic kick.

momofuku fried chicken mu shu pancakes at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku fried chicken US$125
Two whole fried chickens, mu shu pancakes, salad and herb basket and four sauces

It's hard not to squeal with excitement when the chicken finally arrives at the table, an entourage of mu shu pancakes, salad basket and four kinds of sauces that act as bodyguards for the main attraction - a platter piled high with deep fried chicken.

southern style buttermilk korean spicy momofuku fried chicken at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Southern-style fried buttermilk chicken and Korean triple fried spicy chicken

It's an avalanche of poultry. On one side is the Southern-style buttermilk chicken, seasoned with Old Bay spices and deep-fried to a deep brown hue.

On the other side is the Korean triple fried spicy chicken, smothered in a fiery kochujang sauce that will leave your lips burning.

salad herb basket momofuku fried chicken at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Baby carrots, radishes, bib lettuce and herbs

Our herb basket is missing the long spicy peppers and shiso leaves promised in the marketing blurb, but there's an abundance of soft bib lettuce, radishes, peeled baby carrots, mint leaves and Thai basil.

diy lettuce wrap momofuku fried chicken at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku fried chicken lettuce wrap with ginger shallot sauce

The idea is to wrap chunks of chicken in either the lettuce or mu shu pancakes, add herbs and salad and dip in your choice of sauce. I preferred the lettuce over the mu shu - which seemed a little too dense and heavy as a carrier for fried chicken - and the radish and mint provided welcomed relief when the going started to get tough.

Some of the chicken pieces were dry - especially the Southern-style breast pieces - and the batter wasn't as crunchy as I thought it would be, but a splodge of ginger shallot sauce easily fixed that, and our salad bowl was happily refilled (unasked) when it neared depletion.

The Momofuku fried chicken is recommended to be shared between four to eight people. We were a party of five and still couldn't finish it all. A party of six would have knocked it over easily.

dining room table seating momofuku fried chicken at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku Bar table seating

With two fried chickens on the menu, we couldn't fit in any of David Chang's famous pork buns so we find ourselves returning that very same day for dinner. By night, the place feels completely different, humming with New Yorkers and overflowing with diners waiting for a table. We have to wait half an hour for a table, tacked onto the end of a table with strangers.

momofuku pork buns at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku pork buns US$9 for two

The pork buns are served in orders of two, also available with shrimp, shiitake or brisket. We stick with the original pork and are rewarded with two hefty slabs of pork belly, so fatty and soft your teeth sink through the flesh like butter. A slick of hoisin sauce adds sweetness, there's pickled cucumber for crunch, and the steamed buns are as soft as a pillow.

There's twice as much pork here as the one in Sydney's Momofuku Seiobo, with the fattylicious pork stacked two storeys high.

roasted rice cakes ddeok momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Roasted rice cakes US$10

The roasted rice cakes are right up my starch-loving alley, little chunks of dduk Korean rice cake that taste like they've been deep-fried until slightly crispy and then coated in a gochujang chilli sauce and littered with sesame seeds and shallots. There's a slight resistance as you crunch through the thin outer shell before you hit the chewy rice cake middle. So good they're spine-tingling.

momofuku ramen pork japanese egg momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku ramen US$16

The longest wait is for the Momofuku ramen. The stock is hearty, the noodles are chewy, but the highlight is the pork - a slab of tender pork belly and a hunk of pork shoulder that falls apart into soft shreds.

eating momofuku pork ramen noodles at momofuku noodle bar nyc new york david chang
Poached egg yolk innards in the Momofuku ramen

Momofuku Ssam Bar

waiter dining room momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang

A couple of days later we're pounding the pavement in search of dinner when we look up and realise we're standing right outside Momofuku Ssam Bar. It only takes a sideways glance at each other before we laugh and hustle ourselves inside.

It feels more like a bar in here, with dim lighting, casually dressed waitstaff and a row of diners seated along a counter. Momofuku Ssam Bar is presently listed at number 86 in the 2013 World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

east beach blonde oysters seafood at momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang
East Beach blonde oysters with ramp mignonette US$3 each

The East Beach blonde oysters feature on the raw section of the menu - not as briny as Sydney Rocks - served on a bed of ice with a ramp mignonette.

grilled asparagus chawanmushi at momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang
Grilled asparagus, chawanmushi, pickled tomato and sesame US$13

Grilled asparagus is grilled until just tender, served with strips of chawanmushi that are more like a soft omelette than the wobbly egg custard we're expecting.

santa barbara uni at momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang
Santa Barbara uni with meyer lemon, onigiri and nori US$18

I choose the Santa Barbara uni, and it's a visually arresting dish once you notice the transparent jelly sheath over the top. Breaking through the jelly feels like you're entering another world. It's an eye-opening combination of thinly shaved slippery sweet scallop, tangy lemon gelee, nori flakes and buttery bursts of creamy uni sea urchin roe. Bliss.

momofuku pork bun pork belly momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku pork belly steamed buns US$10 for two

We all order another round of Momofuku pork buns, unable to resist its fatty seductiveness.

momofuku bbq pork bun momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang
Momofuku BBQ pork belly bun US$6

Suze also tries the barbecue pork belly bun, grilled so there's a caramelised char on the surface. It's still tender and soft, but much sweeter in flavour, sandwiched with a sweet coleslaw. The consensus is we prefer the simplicity of the steamed pork bun that celebrates pork fat and bun.

momofuku pork bun bbq pork bun momofuku ssam bar nyc new york david chang
Big bbq pork bun with its steamed pork bun little brother

Momofuku Milk Bar

momofuku cereal milk soft serve ice cream momofuku milk bar east village nyc new york david chang christina tosi

There are five Momofuku Milk Bars scattered around New York each serving a different soft serve variation. All of them serve the classic cereal milk soft serve.

momofuku milk bar menu at momofuku milk bar east village nyc new york david chang christina tosi
Momofuku Milk Bar menu

It's hard not to be overwhelmed by the choices on the menu, each imploring you to jack up your sugar with carefree abandon.

momofuku cereal milk soft serve ice cream momofuku milk bar east village nyc new york david chang christina tosi
Momofuku cereal milk soft serve US$4.50 with crunch topping US$0.75

The Momofuku cereal milk soft serve is mandatory, snaking curls of soft serve that are piped perilously high in the paper cup. The soft serve is made from milk infused with the flavour from cornflakes, and it really is quite a bizarre sensation to be eating ice cream that tastes just like a childhood breakfast cereal. It's malt and corn and sugar and milk in a frozen mind-altering experience.

The crunch topping is amazing too, sweet and crumbly like a cornflake praline.

momofuku crack pie dessert at momofuku milk bar east village nyc new york david chang christina tosi
Momofuku crack pie US$5.25

There are compost cookies for takeaway, but we attack the Momofuku crack pie in the shop. I'd eaten a homemade version of this before so had an idea of what to expect, but its intense sweetness will still make you raise your eyebrows in shock. Essentially it's an orgy of sugar, butter, egg yolks and cream. The buttery short pastry is impressive but the slightly sticky crust across the top is the best part!

cash register server at momofuku milk bar east village nyc new york david chang christina tosi
Momofuku Milk Bar East Village

momofuku neon light at momofuku milk bar east village nyc new york david chang christina tosi

View Larger Map
Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 First Avenue (btwn 10th and 11th Streets), New York City, New York, USA
Tel: +1 (212) 777 7773

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 12pm - 4.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 12pm - 4pm

Sunday to Thursday 5.30pm - 11pm
Friday and Saturday 5.30pm - 2am

View Larger Map
Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 Second Avenue at 13th Street, New York City, New York, USA
Tel: +1 (212) 254 3500

Opening hours: 
Monday to Sunday 11.30am - 3.30pm

Sunday to Thursday 5pm - 12 midnight
Friday and Saturday 5pm - 1am

View Larger Map
Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar - East Village 
251 East 13th Street, New York City, New York, USA
Tel: +1 (347) 577 9504 ext 4 

Opening hours: 
Open 7 days 9am - 12 midnight

Momofuku Milk Bars also open at:
Milk Bar Midtown 
15 West 56th Street, NYC 
Open 7 days 8am - 11pm

Milk Bar Upper West Side
561 Columbus Avenue, at 87th Street, NYC 
Open 7 days 9am - 11pm

Milk Bar Williamsburg
382 Metropolitan Avenue at Havemeyer, Brooklyn
Open 7 days 9am - 11pm (Thu - Sun til midnight)

Milk Bar Carroll Garden
360 Smith Street, Brooklyn
Open 7 days 7am - 10pm

>> Read the next USA 2013 post: Jewish food tour of New York
<< Read the first USA 2013 post: Cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC

Related Grab Your Fork posts: 

USA 2013
Austin - BBQ tour - Franklin, Ruby's, Green Mesquite, Salt Lick & La Barbecue
Austin - Gourdough's bacon donut, Hoover's, Whole Foods and Biscuits + Groovy
Chicago - Deep pan pizza, Al's #1 Italian beef & Cheesecake Factory
Kansas City - BBQ: Gates, Oklahoma Joes & Arthur Bryant's

LA - Animal Restaurant
LA - Boiling Crab
LA - Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery
LA - Donut tour of LA's best: Randy's Donuts, Bob's Doughnuts & The Donut Man
LA - In-N-Out, Roscoe's Fried Chicken & Waffles, Kogi food truck & Pink's Hot Dogs
LA - Mexican: Loteria Grill, Tamales Liliana's & El Flamin Taco
New Orleans - Willy Mae's fried chicken, Felix's Oyster Bar & beignet

NYC - Cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery
NYC - Doughnut Plant, Carlo's Bakery, Baohaus, Lobster Joint & Clinton St Bakery
NYC - Jewish food tour: Katz's Deli, Russ & Daughters, knish and bagels
NYC - Momofuku Noodle Bar fried chicken, Ssam Bar & Milk Bar
NYC - Motorino brussels sprout pizza, Best Pizza and Big Gay Ice Cream
NYC - Shake Shack, Tom Colicchio's Craftbar and Union Square Greenmarket
32 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/02/2013 01:17:00 am


  • At 9/02/2013 5:08 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Looking at those pork buns and the quantity of juicy meat, I can't help but feel a tad short-changed when you compare them to the ones at Seiobo. It all looks great!

  • At 9/02/2013 5:31 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I don't have to stress about having missed out on these experiences with you, because Toronto now has all (I believe) the Momofuku restaurants and cafes.

    And yet I find that I'm still not interested in the crack pie until they serve with with a mini jar of salted peanut butter.

  • At 9/02/2013 8:28 am, Anonymous thesuzchef said…

    Love Momofuku - all of them. Ate at all of the restaurants when I was there, and visited the Milk Bar numerous times!

  • At 9/02/2013 9:19 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I have so much momofuku envy! Hopefully I'll be able to return to NYC to get my hands on everythingggggggggggggggggg

  • At 9/02/2013 9:29 am, Anonymous angela@mykikicake said…

    Momofuku heaven! Really wish I had tried that cereal milk soft-serve.

  • At 9/02/2013 10:06 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Hot damn those fried chicken! The pork on that ramen sounds so amazing. I will definitely hit up all 3 of them when I visit NYC soon.

  • At 9/02/2013 10:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice blog, brings back good memories of the Noodle Bar. Didn't get the chance to try the milk bar but did enquire about having some cookies shipped to Aus, postage cost $90!

  • At 9/02/2013 3:58 pm, Anonymous Fight The Craving said…

    Did somebody say triple fried chicken

    I actually had this on my list when I went to NYC but unfortunately ended up on the wrong side of Manhatten for the night. Totally jealous!!

  • At 9/02/2013 4:07 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    yes i do agree that i celebrate pork fat mmm haha i still cant believe we went to momofuku twice in 1 day. so damn good

  • At 9/02/2013 7:41 pm, Anonymous Christine @ Cooking Crusade said…

    Momofuku has been on my list forever - and now I need to get to the US to try this chicken, looks incredible!

  • At 9/02/2013 7:48 pm, Anonymous Josephine said…

    I made it to Milk Bar when I went to NY, but now really regretting I didn't get to the rest!

  • At 9/02/2013 8:00 pm, Anonymous Ken said…

    @john | heneedsfood

    You're right, there must be at least double what you get at Sieobo.

    I could still eat 10 of them.

  • At 9/02/2013 8:38 pm, Blogger foodiezee said…

    That chicken looks finger lickin' good! Loved Momofuku noodle bar and the Milk Bar...aaah brings back some happy memories :) Someone just told me the Milk Bar cookie mix is available at the West Elm store and website so you can make your own composte cookie!!

  • At 9/02/2013 9:16 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Protein Bulking. Man it's so hard looking at your blog and not feeling hungry. It looks like you've eaten pretty much everything the US has to offer.

  • At 9/02/2013 10:17 pm, Anonymous Iron Chef Shellie said…

    without A DOUBT up the top of my list of places to pig out at next year!!

  • At 9/02/2013 10:28 pm, Anonymous Cindy (A Foodie's Joy) said…

    I only managed to check out the Noodle Bar when I was in NYC in June. Where I had the oh so tender pork buns and the Ramen noodles. Next time I will definitely want to have the fried chicken. Ssam Bar will also be on my list plus if possible Ma Peche. Good post!

  • At 9/03/2013 12:01 am, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    For some reason the pork buns here look better than the ones at Seiobo. And that fried chicken looks amazing! My dream is to go to the Momofukus in NY one day. I will just have to make do with Seiobo for the time being.

  • At 9/03/2013 12:07 am, Blogger Mr C @ The Food Diary said…

    So jealous! I wish I was visiting NYC some time in the near future :(

  • At 9/03/2013 12:59 pm, Blogger Jarhead said…

    Thanks for such an extensive review! Great photos too. The fried chicken looks brilliant. I'm keen to try the Momofuku Bo Ssäm - which has a hwole pork shoulder with oysters and other condiments - super decadent.

  • At 9/03/2013 7:08 pm, Blogger Irene said…

    I'm sooo incredibly jealous of your momofuku adventure, from the noodle bar to the milk bar, everything just looks freaking perfect! The soft serve is high on top of my to try list! Fantastic roundup review :)

  • At 9/03/2013 9:08 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Fantastic post! I do hope I can visit next year - I want to eat everything at the Milk Bar and All Of The Pork buns! :)

  • At 9/03/2013 9:53 pm, Blogger Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    So much that it needed to be in caps :D

    - Cassie

  • At 9/03/2013 11:48 pm, Blogger Von said…

    The dish of fried chicken actually looks deceptively small.....I was thinking that $125USD was pretty steep for such a small plate of fried chicken until I realised that it could feed 6!! It looks amazingly tasty though- love the sound of triple fried chicken!

  • At 9/04/2013 4:30 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i'm hungry again after reading and looking at all the pictures!!! i wouldn't mind some fried chicken right now! great post!

  • At 9/05/2013 9:48 pm, Blogger Jenny said…

    Drooling over that fried chicken and that soft serve. Mmmmmmm

  • At 9/06/2013 12:14 am, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Oh my gosh, memories! Though I didn't partake in the chicken, but wow it looks so so good.

  • At 9/07/2013 7:20 pm, Anonymous Cara @ Gourmet Chick said…

    The fried chicken looks a bit disappointing but I am so jealous of your Momofuku milk bar goodies!

  • At 9/08/2013 1:18 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    omg so jealous you got to try all of this! I am jetting off to the states in a bit under 2 weeks, hopefully I get a spot at one of these places.. fingers cross!!!!

  • At 9/09/2013 1:38 am, Blogger CQUEK said…

    This sounds like a fantastic combination of flavours, and it looks so gloriously glossy – delicious!

  • At 9/09/2013 10:13 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    omgsh im drooling at my screen!

  • At 9/10/2013 12:20 pm, Anonymous Sarah said…

    Love this post! Went on my own trip to NYC but sadly it was impossible to get a booking at Momofuku! Its on the top of my list for next time!

    Check out my blog for my own photos of my food diary around America


  • At 10/13/2013 5:04 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    Momofuku epicness! interesting seeing the prices and casual dining atmosphere here compared to the Sydney fine dining one


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