Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Manhattan, Momofuku & Me

I'm recovering from getting about 8 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours...a little disconcerting to think that I haven't slept for 40 hours. Good news is, I made my flight to NYC last night. Was afraid I was going to miss my early morning flight from California.

Made it. Caught a cab, and had a very interesting chat with the driver. His name was Asogai and he was from Ghana. He came to the U.S. four years ago and has been a taxi driver for the past two years. That's what I love about the city, everyone has a story, a good story to tell.

The growling in my stomach had become progressively louder somewhere around 57th and Central Park West. A pitstop in Brooklyn, and it was off to Momofuku in the East Village.

Momfuku is an Asian-themed restaurant. The menu is simple, a cross between Chinese, Japanese and Korean food. It's owned by Chef David Chang, one of the rising young chefs in Manhattan. He is known for his hot-temper, an insane amount of swearing and his high expectations of chefs and cooks.

I open the door to a young crowd sipping ramen and nibbling on Momofuku's famous buns. (The buns, by the way, are basically the chinese steamed buns you eat with Peking Duck, very similar to the wrapping of pork buns or "char siu bau.") The food was good. I was very impressed with the appetizers, especially a cold smoked duck breast dish with marinated cherries and wax beans. I also ordered the shiitake and chicken steamed buns and two different bowls of ramen. Again, the flavors were good, the mushrooms could have been seasoned more, and the ramen broth tasted a bit off.

I do have a very critical palate, but I was born with it. Add to that, growing up in a Chinese restaurant and having parents who stressed fresh ingredients, simple ingredients and precise seasoning. Overall, I was pleased with my experience there. Toward the end of our dinner, David Chang emerged from the kitchen to the line, with a few expletives in tow.

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