It’s 8.30am Saturday morning. We’ve been in Vegas exactly 1.5 days and I’m already feeling 100% like the gargantuan blobs of fat people laboriously dragging themselves up and down the Strip. It’s no wonder though, the food in Vegas is insanely enormous and preeeetty unhealthy. But more about that later.

Right now I’m craving for some of the semi-healthy food we had in NYC’s Momofuku restaurants and even satiating my sweet tooth at Milk Bar feels like chewing on a celery stick compared to what I ate yesterday. What a sneak peek? Seriously?  Ok, this is my friend Sophie and a chicken and waffle stack from Hash House A Go Go.

I shit you not.

ANYWAY. Momofuku.

It’s no secret that when I dined at Momofuku Ko in December [shaved foie gras], I was completely [shaved foie gras] and utterly [shaved foie gras] blown away by the experience. Wait, did someone say shaved foie gras?

So I was looking forward to checking out David Chang’s various incarnations of his Momofuku brand – Ssäm Bar, Noodle Bar, Má Pêche and Milk Bar – and managed to get to three. I missed out on Má Pêche but word on the street has it that it’s not the best anyways so all good. One thing his establishments all have in common despite varied menus is the decor – simple, clean, wooden interiors making for casual eating and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. I like it.

On Sunday night last week, we walked all the way from our hotel on 44th down to the East Village and met Ken and Jackie (and significant others) for dinner at Ssäm Bar. I really didn’t care what we ordered, I just wanted pork buns and pork buns we got.

Momofuku pork buns

The pork buns are TO DIE FOR. Everyone compares these buns to the ones at Ippudo and everyone seems to have their favourite. I love them both, is that so bad? They are mostly the same thing – soft-as-cloud buns filled to the brink with juicy pork belly. Ippudo’s bun is dressed in a slightly spicy mayo sauce and Momofuku’s is a sweet soy sauce. They both ROCK MY WORLD.

Other Ssäm Bar dishes include…

Market greens

American wagyu tataki with sweet potato, radish & yuzu

Short rib sandwich with taleggio, beet slaw & nueske’s bacon

Fuji apple kimchi with maple labne & jowl bacon

YUM. Sweet apple in spicy kimchi sauce. And bacon! Because bacon goes with everything. Genius.

Fish ball hot pot with littleneck clams, sepia & young coconut

Braised oxtail dumplings with turnip, satsuma & shia kombu

Grilled trout with kabocha squash, peekytoe crab & pepitas

I’ve forgotten the name of this dish! It was fish – cod I think – with barley and other bits that were just delicious 🙂

Pickled p.e.i. mussels with kohlrabi, kale & shishito peppers

Overall I thought Ssäm Bar was ok, not mind blowing but enjoyable. The pork buns were my favourite of course, followed very closely by the apple kimchi and fish ball hot pot. Anyway, the company though was fabulous and after indulging in savouries, we shimmied next door to Milk Bar for dessert. As you do.

But before I go onto Milk Bar, here’s Noodle Bar. After some serious walking last Wednesday, Panu and I were craving the pork buns again and decided to go get them, but at Noodle Bar instead. Again, there’s discussion about whose ramen is better – Momofuku or Ippudo? Well, this is the Momofuku ramen:

Momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder & a poached egg

And the verdict? Kinda tough but I have to say I like Ippudo’s ramen better. The broth is much tastier at Ippudo but two brownie points for Noodle Bar? The queue is minimal and there’s a butt load more pork in each serve.

Lastly, we have Milk Bar, Momofuku’s much loved dessert arm. Everyone had been bugging me to try their cereal milk soft serve (which also comes as just milk or in a milk shake). And so I did. It was pretty good and actually brought back toddler memories because it pretty much tastes like Nestum in an ice cream 🙂 If I had to compare it to say… Hawksmoor’s corn flake ice cream though? Corn flake ice cream is better.

Cereal milk soft serve

Oh for some reason, the cereal flavour is much stronger in the milk shake than the soft serve. FYI.

Soft serve sampler with chocolate, french toast, cereal milk…
and I don’t remember the last one…

We also had some cookies and finally, the crowning glory of Momofuku (to me anyway), the cake truffles. What are the cake truffles? Basically Momofuku makes a bunch of cakes like birthday cake, apple pie cake, chocolate malt cake etc. They then take the cake and roll little balls out of them, making delicious bite sized cake truffles!

Please, if you go, you must have the birthday cake truffles.

And no, I didn’t have the crack pie.

Momofuku cookies, cake truffles and cereal milk shake

So there we have it! Momofuku’s trifecta. And here I sit, now 9.01am in my hotel room and I am hungry again despite the disgusting eating yesterday. Cereal and fruit room service, I think!

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Ave (corner 13th Street)
East Village, NY, 10003

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave (between 10th and 11th)
East Village, NY, 10003

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar
207 2nd Ave (corner 13th Street) – there’s also one on 56th
East Village, NY, 10003

Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

12 Thoughts on “Momofuku trifecta: Ssäm Bar, Noodle Bar & Milk Bar

  1. wow that really looks like a massive meal you had there! yum!! the pork bun does look delish!

  2. I’m so bloody jealous. The fish ball hot pot thing, the pork buns, and of course the ramen all look fab. I so need to head to the Big Apple, which by the look of things has some of the ramen action going on, in the form of Ippudo and Momofuku, outside of Asia.

  3. gosh, if i ever go back to london or ny, i have to go try all the places you go!

  4. Kay@chopstix2steaknives on February 13, 2011 at 3:16 am said:

    Is that last sample salted pistachio caramel? That was what I had at the Milk Bar. Have fun in Vegas!! 🙂 JIT for some CNY gambling.. Hehe

  5. Chicken and waffle stack? Hubby laughed his ass off.
    What was that top photo? That looks GOOD.
    Here’s hoping your gambling hits pay dirt. Don’t take any wooden nickels.

  6. Its Sunday morning and I am salivating over the pork bun with pickle and sweet soy. Mostly I’m feeling soooo jealous. Glad to see you aren’t going hungry….as if!


  7. Cereal milkshake sounds very interesting!

  8. Perfect tips! I have been hunting for something like this for quite a while now. Thanks for your insight!

  9. I thought Milk Bar was good too. I especially liked the hot-spring egg in the ramen – but as always you’re right it’s all about those luscious pork buns.

  10. Great trip down memory lane! Nb, Ma Peche feels to me like a cousin of the clan- is a bit more formal and the Vietnamese elements are much more pronounced. But I think you’re right, the pork buns really are that famous for a reason… can’t wait to hear more about Vegas!

  11. Melissa: Actually it wasn’t too huge! There were six of us.. we were saving space for dessert hehe 🙂

    Mr Noodles: You need to wrangle a work trip there! And yes, being the noodle man I totally suggest you go to Ippudo and Momofuku and try both ramens. Give us your professional opinion! 😉

    mc: Definitely!!

    Kay: Salted caramel YES that’s what it was!

    Linda: The top photo is the pork buns from Momofuku. SO delicious 🙂

    mealsheels: Haha yeah, I’m completely well fed on this trip, don’t worry about me!

    the lunch girls: It’s pretty good (as is the corn flake ice cream from Hawksmoor in London). Basically tastes like the left over sweet milk when you’ve had a bowl of cereal 🙂

    Luzie: No problem!

    Trudi: Oh yes! The onsen tomago is delicious – cooked to perfection!

    Tori: I’m sure I will go to Ma Peche one day – just so I can say I’ve tried them all. Viet or not I’m still ordering the pork buns 🙂

  12. Wow! You got to dine at the famous Momofuku! I’d like to try out some of Chang’s signature dishes … For once I thought of owning the Momofuku cookbook, then I said to myself, “Nah, I’m not gonna be able to source some of the ingredients around here.” LOL! That’s it! The end of my Momofuku cookbook dream! LOL!

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