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Steven Dilley

Momofuku Noodle Bar

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I've been craving noodles for a couple of wks now and was hoping lunch at Momofuku might satisfy. No dice.

 

The room is sparsely modern with a long bar, lots of wood and stainless, and a few obvious, though not unattractive, cut corners. The long bar facing the kitchen is reminiscent of noodle shops I've dined at in Japan. At 1:45, the place was packed with a half dozen or so waiting for seats. The menu, while short, was promising. We ordered a side of pickles (kimchi, cucumber, pears, carrots, turnips) along with kimchi stew and ramen with braised pork neck. The cucumbers were nice enough, but the kimchi/turnips were very mildly seasoned, which, unfortunately, was a sign of things to come.

 

After waiting close to 40 minutes, our dishes arrived. (Very rookie kitchen, though someone with more experience eventually arrived and was intent on speeding things up.) Kimchi stew was basically a mix of cabbage, turnips, stewed pork (which was pretty good and relatively rich), carrots, rice cake, in a very mild broth. Not kimchi-like at all. SCS nailed it after a bite--a westernized approach to noodles. The ramen wasn't any better... gummy, pasty noodles with bland pork, seaweed, scallions, and a poached egg served in a bland broth.

 

Service was friendly and the crowd lively, but no reason to return.

 

Up next: Honmura An.

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Honmura An and Rai Rai Ken were the two that caught my eye. Unfortunately, the restaurant with the best bowl of noodles I knew about--Rio You, 5th Ave and 50th or so--closed a few months ago.

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Go to Minca.

 

We had one shoyu ramen and one special ramen with stewed pork (good, fatty, flavored with soy and not too much mirin). Both were based on very good robust pork broth (they also have lighter broth based on bonito & chicken and "mild" broth, whatever it is), topped with egg, seaweed, scallion and cabbage. Gyoza was better than average.

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So we don't get too confused....we have a Ramen thread going already which overlaps with this already.

 

Could someone link the NYT article from last week about this? I can't - my stupid laptop hates the NYT website for some completely incomprehensible reason.

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At 1:45, the place was packed with a half dozen or so waiting for seats.return.

We arived at about 3PM and were told a half hour wait and we left. Seems like we were fortunate. We also looked in on Rai's which is around the corner, and the line was even longer, way out into the street. Ended up eating at Flor's.

 

Honmora An is really one of the best restaurants in the city, but it's claim to fame is its homemade soba. Ideally, soba should be ordered cold with a dipping sauce, no soup.

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Honmora An is really one of the best restaurants in the city, but it's claim to fame is its homemade soba.  Ideally, soba should be ordered cold with a dipping sauce, no soup.

I have experienced a marked detrioration in the quality of the uni soba at Honmura An recently. The quantity of uni is now 1/3 of what used to be offered, causing the diner to be unable to mush the uni and integrate them with the noodles as before. Also, the amount of bonito flakes is the same, giving the dish a dryish feel unless at least 1/2 of the bonito flakes are set aside.

 

The duck soba is probably preferable to the uni, given this change.

 

The fish cakes are a nice appetizer (Itawasa), accompanied by non-commercial wasabi. The duck appetizer consists of slices of cold duck, along one edge of which is a large tier of fat. The mustard accompanying the duck slices is way too severe.

 

I've never been impressed of the intrisic quality of the soba, although it is not bad.

 

The environment is tasteful, including the flower arrangements. The restaurant is also located very close to Michael Kors' boutique, and within walking distance to a number of other stores (e.g., Fragments, Anya Hindmarch, Louis Vuitton, Anna Sui) and to the Dean & Deluca.

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Run, do not walk, to get the following two dishes:

 

Pan roasted sweet corn with miso butter, scallion, Benton's bacon, and roasted onion

 

Anson Mills yellow grits with grilled ruby red shrimp, Benton's bacon, scallion, and a poached egg

 

(I had the above two dishes for lunch and again for dinner today - they were that good)

 

 

 

Do not get the lobster roll.

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Run, do not walk, to get the following two dishes:

 

Pan roasted sweet corn with miso butter, scallion, Benton's bacon, and roasted onion

I had this a couple weeks ago... it is pretty awesome. I'm still not sold on their noodles, but just about everything else there is great.

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Those two items were seriously, seriously good in the way that you can do no wrong with copious amounts of butter and bacon. I also liked the Eckerton tomato salad with shiso and tofu. Next time I'd love to try the roasted razor clams.

 

The place is pretty small. We went on a Wednesday and by 7:00 they were absolutely full, which does not make for the most pleasant dining experience but I'd go back in a heartbeat. Sounds like lunch is way calmer, which to me would be a better way to enjoy Momofuku.

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ate at Momofuku again last night.. i've been hitting this place pretty regularly, at least monthy, since it opened..

 

i love the seasonal menu.. the corn during the late summer was one of the best things they offered.. haven't had the brussel sprouts or any of the greens lately, which is a shame because they look delicious.. love love love sitting at the bar and watching the cooks move in unison cooking and cleaning up after themselves like you wouldn't believe if you didn't see it.. watching them cook you realize how unhealthy eating like that is though, the amount of oil and butter used is astounding..

 

finally got around to trying the red shrimp and grits.. ehh.. i'd pass.. the grits were way too salty, especially when combined with the bacon, which i normally enjoy but found it to have a taste of liquid smoke that i really didn't enjoy..

 

the pork buns were as good as ever, and the ramen has solidly come into its own.. their home made seasonal pickles are great.. and the smoked chicken over rice is fantastic, but might be off the menu for now..

 

they've brought in a pastry chef, formerly of WD50.. her opening offer - Fat Elvis Cupcakes.. tiny little things, three to an order, which really just sucked.. bacon, banana and peanut butter, they were the size of large gumdrops, were a bit on the dry side, and the flavors just didn't work for us..

 

we were able to walk in at eight and secure a prime seat at the bar facing the kitchen with no wait.. there were a few brief periods of wait time during the meal, but it wasn't packed to the gills the way it's been now and again..

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