When the going gets tough, the tough turns to his iPhone auto-correct to come up with the title
After surviving 5 full days of this I needed a strong meal. It was like having unexpected construction at home the past week. 5 full days of the youngest practice walking on the high heel shoes she chose for her big Bat Mitzvah day. 5 days and counting. And the day is not until February. I needed something real good, not Hearth which I had scheduled originally but something stronger. The answer came off a tip from Kathryn from Chowdown about the new Chanterelles dish at Mama Funky. So instead of the famous Hearth Gnocchi, I got Gnocchi that gave me a Ratatouille Moment like never before
Ssam Bar is located in the Momofuku quarters of the East Village. Ok, I may be getting ahead of myself a little here, but that’s the direction we are heading looks like. Next to Ssam around the corner you got Momofuku’s popular Booker and Dax bar, right across the street you got Momofuku’s Milk Bar, and a block away you have of course Ko, the 2 Michelin Star powerhouse. David Chang is to East Village what beards are to the Red Sox. Or something like that.
The place for the most part.. borrowing yet another line from Breaking Bad… Tight, tight, tight. If you are a group, 3 or more, you not only get a table but you can also take advantage of some of the family style offers like the Bo Ssäm meal (slow cooked pork shoulder, a dozen oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, ssäm sauce, kimchi and ginger scallion sauce) and the popular whole rotisserie duck. However, if you are 1, 2 you get the long communal table where you sit across from each other. No room for camera which I didnt bring anyway. To my right, a guy who suspects his neighbor is a serial killer. To my left, a tower of napkins! Sitting with easy access to an unlimited amount of napkins is surprisingly comforting.
With that said, the food is heavenly. Between the 6 dishes we shared, 4 great ones, 1 ok, 1 eh! The breakdown…
Striped Bass – Raw, with lychee, rye guajillo bonji, and cilantro. Just enough acidity and very tasty. Mrs Ziggy will only eat raw if its exceptional and she ate this
Roasted Chanterelles – Excellent! With scattered ‘drops’ of egg yolk and melted bone marrow. Just a nice combination of flavors all around. Coudnt get enough of this dish
Roasted Jurgielewicz duck – Expertly prepared tender duck with barley, butternut squash, and cranberry. I found myself wanting more sour from the accompanying stuff but a very nice dish overall
Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes – Insane! By far my favorite dish. And I almost didn’t order it. When I asked about the dish, the waiter assured us it was “Very Spicy” and “Exactly like the one at Mission Chinese” which I don’t care much for. But I decided to order it anyway and he couldn’t be more wrong. Plenty of heat but plenty of joy. Its a beautiful medley of ground sausage, chinese broccoli, sichuan peppercorn, and the awesome rice cakes which were essentially Korean Gnocchi made from rice flour. A top dish of the year nominee.
Apple Kimchi – With maple labne, jowl bacon, arugula. It like eating a well spiced apple. Its a popular dish and I still recommend ordering it but I just didnt find it as thrilling as the others
Cashew Hozon – Like a cashew “hummus” with some off-putting anchovies. A regular fresh hummus would have been preferred.
Dessert here is limited so we went to the Milk Bar which we found just ok. I suggest heading to Chikalicious Dessert Club on East 10th or Sundaes and Cones. Highly recommend Momofuku Ssam Bar
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 second avenue (13th street)