American living in Gent, Belgium who gets to travel the world for work. Food lover, daily adventurer, complete wanderluster.

Passing through Momofuku

In 2008, I walked away from a decent paying corporate job with absolutely no plan. Well, I had a plan but no idea how to make it a reality. I knew I wanted to work in pro cycling but that's much easier said than done. 

Needless to say, basically everyone was horrified and concerned by this career move. Most people were confused but a few came in with good advice as I made a total leap of faith. The two things I remember the most: 1.) Don't get lazy. 2.) Don't make your hobby your job. 

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Plenty of people thought cycling was my hobby. To be honest, it never felt that way. I can't exactly explain it. The energy I got at a race, or maybe just around pro sports, was so special, energizing and unique for me when it came to a work environment. Sure, I definitely appreciated cycling but it was never my hobby. I've ridden, but I've never been fanatical. I've never raced or even wanted to race.

Lunch time at Momofuku Ssam. I ate alone at the bar....how I eat more meals than I can count.

Lunch time at Momofuku Ssam. I ate alone at the bar....how I eat more meals than I can count.

My hobby is food. Good food. Special food. Amazing food. Unique food. Anything and all food that amazes and wows me. It doesn't have to be fancy, expensive, unique, molecular or exclusive. Sure, I like trying all of those, but they aren't my motivation. I simply love to consume amazing food. Following the aforementioned advice, I don't think I'll make food my career anytime soon (except maybe for a PR function....I'm never going to try my hand at creating it.)

Maybe it was lunch, but I was about hour 47 into a trip that should have taken 12. At this point, I needed booze to avoid going insane. And let's be honest....Grüner Veltliner is perfect with spicy food on a hot day.

Maybe it was lunch, but I was about hour 47 into a trip that should have taken 12. At this point, I needed booze to avoid going insane. And let's be honest....Grüner Veltliner is perfect with spicy food on a hot day.

And that is what leads me to my unexpected trip through Momofuku Ssam. There is no better way to put it: I love David Chang. His food, his approach to food, the people he hires, the ways he views food. The list goes on. I consume all media related to David Chang, but sadly, my life up until this point hasn't let me overlap with his food. Until earlier this week. (And note: I still haven't eaten David Chang food...simply David Chang-crafted food.)

I began with the shrimp rolls with daikon, green mango and peanut. The peanut was all on the outside, so I tried to avoid. My fabulous server gave me the Ssam sauce (not gluten-free) and it was a total add. This was delicious and added a lovely spicy. My only takeaway is that I wish I had people to share this dish with so I could have enjoyed another starter. 

I began with the shrimp rolls with daikon, green mango and peanut. The peanut was all on the outside, so I tried to avoid. My fabulous server gave me the Ssam sauce (not gluten-free) and it was a total add. This was delicious and added a lovely spicy. My only takeaway is that I wish I had people to share this dish with so I could have enjoyed another starter. 

This week was a travel nightmare that will need to be a whole other post. I began here but that was only the beginning. Fast forward to a 24-hour unexpected layover in New York City and thanks to some amazing advice, I knew Momofuku was in my future. Several places were open for lunch, but a 2008 New Yorker article lingered in my mind and I needed to go tp Momofuku Ssam.

Wow. This was delicious. I let my server pick my main course and he went with the Spicy Pork Sausage and Rice Cakes with broccoli and sichuan peppercorn. It was AMAZING. And when they say it is spicy, don't be scared. It wasn't that spicy.  What it was was huge. I couldn't finish it, but I gluttoned myself trying. 

Wow. This was delicious. I let my server pick my main course and he went with the Spicy Pork Sausage and Rice Cakes with broccoli and sichuan peppercorn. It was AMAZING. And when they say it is spicy, don't be scared. It wasn't that spicy.  What it was was huge. I couldn't finish it, but I gluttoned myself trying. 

There is no way to add this into the conversation. I currently am gluten, dairy, banana and peanut-free. It's a whole long conversation that has to do with autoimmune issues...but I'm not quite ready to go into all of that. But let me say, I've been as completely gluten, dairy, banana and peanut-free as humanly possible for the past three months, 1.5 months of that living on the road. No hiccups. I got to Momofuku and decide none of that mattered. Sure, I wasn't going to go super overboard (yet) with the steamed buns, but I wasn't going to miss out on this moment...and I also wasn't going to have an anaphylactic reaction, which is a real problem for people.

I Milk Bar'ed. This is where I went dairy overboard. It was noticed afterwards.

I Milk Bar'ed. This is where I went dairy overboard. It was noticed afterwards.

The entire meal was perfect. The servers at Momofuku Ssam were personable, knowledgeable and basically exactly what you want when dining, particularly dining alone. They didn't make me feel like a weirdo. The service was spot on and the food was what I hoped for and more.

Following lunch, I stopped by neighboring Momofuku Milk Bar. This was the most obvious moment where I threw all dietary restrictions to the wind. I got a cereal milk and fruity cereal milk soft serve blend. It was beyond amazing and I don't regret a lick of it; I was even stopped on the street and asked where I got such a good looking ice cream. All I can say, I plan to tackle Milk Bar without any food restrictions at one point in life (looking at you Arnold Palmer Cake and basically anything ever made by Christina Tosi.) 

Momofuku was definitely the high point of a disrupted travel that began on Monday and didn't end until Thursday afternoon.

 

 

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