I have written about chef David Chang's Momofuku empire before. No surprise, I'm a fan. Just to add to the adulation, I had a chart-topping, show-stopping fish dish there tonight.
As usual, James ordered the house special Momofuku ramen, which is succulent, toothsome noodles in a porky broth with, indeed, two kinds of pork--belly and shredded--and soft-cooked egg, peas, green onion, nori, lotus root, and deliciousness. James always gets it. He's obsessed. But I ordered something new: crispy red snapper. Not usually my fave fish. Slightly funkier than bass or trout. The fish was delish, but it was the sides I died for. What graced the dish? Summer squash. I don't often love squash because it's squishy and meaty in an unpleasant way. Surprisingly, Chang's staff didn't slice the squash extra-thin. But because, like all things Chang, the veg floated in a salty, porky broth, it ruled.
Two things lifted the dish into the stratosphere: the best chunky, pancetta-y bacon ever, and pickled ramps. Now, I saw Chang's recipe for them in New York mag in May, but whatever, not something I'd make at home, so I didn't think more about it. Holy mackerel: I could make a meal of them. Imagine wilted, kim-chee-y onions. Yes please.
I should mention we started with an heirloom tomato salad with Asian vinaigrette and shiso leaf, with soft tofu. And, the kicker, we walked right into the place. Why? Three ideas: August; early; outside it was hot as hell.
Dining at Momofuku is hectic. It's loud and cramped and hot. But you get to see your dinner assembled in front of you by pros. It's like you're on the set of a cooking show. You get to listen to the Stones' Gimme Shelter and remember those violent scenes in Scorsese's Mean Streets and The Departed. And you get to have an ass-kicking, fresh fish dish for $16. Worth it.