I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Momofuku Ssam Bar: Bo Ssam, Korean for, "Whoa, thats a big piece of Pork"

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: A friend that complains about too much swine is no friend of mine…well close friend.

Bo Ssam from the first time around, photo courtesy of  www.conwayyen.com

I am about to be “that guy”. You know, that guy that wears the band tee shirt of the band he is about to go see, “that guy”. If you do not understand about “that guy” I highly suggest you go on your Netflix queue or…Blockbuster? Not sure if those exists anymore and borrow the underrated movie, PCU in which Jeremy Piven goes into great detail about not being that guy.

Magic Kitchen

Momofuku restaurants with the exception of Ko offer a family style group dining experience. Noodle bar has the chicken, Ssam has the pork and Peche has the beef. However, you cannot just walk in with a crew and just expect to get a fried chicken dinner; you have to make a reservation online through the Momofuku reservation system. Making a reservation via Momofuku brings me back painful memories of registering for classes in college. Momofuku only allows a certain amount of times in which you can do a group dinner and they do not release the new reservations until 10 am. I see no actual difference between registering for classes and getting a reservation for the group dinner except that Momofuku results in fullness and registering for classes hopefully results in Fridays off and no early classes.

I am fan of the Momofuku restaurants and have been to all of them. I have dined at Ko, done fried chicken fest twice and already did Bo ssam. So when I was asked to go to Bo ssam and make a reservation for it, I was all Momofuku’d out. I mean I know some people are dying to try the group dinners and the various Momofuku offerings but I was very apathetic going to go do bo ssam again. I have made the bo ssam at home and it has lost its charm to me. I was expecting the same experience when I did the fried chicken dinner for the second time in which I was underwhelmed and the level of excitement that I had the first time was nonexistent. So this is me being that guy, that guy that is complain and moaning about having the opportunity to eat bo ssam again while others around me are like…I hate you. Regardless how I felt before going into Bo ssam for round 2, I am still a fan of the OG of group dining in New York as well as the other menu items in which Ssam bar does well. 
Om Nomz after the Jump!

I call the Seasonal Pork Buns- with Avocado and radishes

I know that when eating, you should plan your meal out and got for a variety, meaning if I am about to consume a pork butt, I should probably lay off the pork. However the first time around, I went the screw it route and had the pork buns. The buns need no explanation or go into uber blogger taste description detail but yes, they are good. This time around however, I was all pork-bun’d out. Having eaten them a pervious weekend and had them at Baohaus, I had my share of pork buns. One thing to note is that Ssam bar currently has a “special” on the pork buns in which it has the addition of radishes and avocado which lightens it up a bit. One thing that I was excited about was the addition of the duck sandwiches.

Duck Sammich

So apparently duck is the new pork belly because duck taste awesome and apparently if David Chang says it is, it becomes food law. I have always liked duck because in my retard terms, it is an all dark meat chicken. The duck sandwich was done up Panini style (looks squished but crispy on the outside) and had a spicy mayonnaise and a peppadew (hot peppers that are not jalapenos).The sandwich was rich and slightly spicy and I can not confirm but maybe a smear of pate? Either way it was a good sandwich and glad that dark meat chicken is getting some menu loving. 

Fried Rice Cakes
The challenge of consuming a seven pound pork shoulder is nothing to me so I of course made sure we ordered a couple of other starters. The classic spicy pork sausage and rice cakes with chinese broccoli, sichuan peppercorn, crispy shallots that is a constant on the menu is always good. The rice cakes were crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle mixed in fiery red-orange sausage slurry. Oh and there are vegetables in it too, well the chinese broccoli and does sichuan peppercorns count as a vegetable? Sweetbreads made an appearance on the meal so that had to be ordered. Lightly dusted and fried, it had almonds, Thai chilies, sauerkraut (which was just pickled cabbage I believe) and some kind of aioli-like sauce. Although my dining cohorts complained about the price quantity differential, 6 nuggets for 19 bucks, I was quite happy about it given how it tasted awesome and I know how hard and the manpower it takes to make sweetbreads taste that awesome. Unless Mickey Ds start doing Veal Sweetbread nuggets at 4.99, I am content of getting them at Ssam bar. 

Veal Sweetbreads

Enough of the food foreplay, it was time for the main event: the Bo Ssam dinner. So here is the run down. You get somewhere between a 6-8 pound Pork butt, from Niman Ranch as well as a dozen Blue point Oysters. Along side you get bowls of Boston bibb lettuce, rice, four condiments and a bunch of mini tongs to rip into the flesh of the meaty beast. The condiments that are provided are 2 kinds of kimchi, one that is the normal and one that is pureed. There “ssam” sauce which is a mix of soy, vinegar and gochujang and a ginger scallion sauce. If you are an attention whore, then this is a must. When it comes out of the kitchen and placed at the center of the table, there will be at least one person that is not eating with you that will take a picture of it. It has happened every time I did the fried chicken dinner and the last time. 

Bo ssam, 2nd time around, still sexy

Boston Bibb lettuce and condiments, photos courtesy of www.conwayyen.com
How do you conquer this much meat? Pretty much you man up and eat it, which pretty much what I end up doing. The intended way of eating it is you make a little lettuce burrito. Take said lettuce, take a good hunk of pork (I suggest that part that is by the bone), throw on whatever condiment you want, kimichi is the usual, slide on an oyster and wrap that sucker up and shove it into your greedy gullet. I usually throw in a bit of rice, but pretty much it’s a do-it-yourself Chipotle lettuce wrapping party, the home Korean addition. The bo ssam both times lived up to the expectations that I had, the pork was moist, tender and when it is prodded wistfully falls apart. The meat seems to defy physics because it should be a pile of meat on a plate, but it somehow holds it shape, almost unnatural. 
Blue point oysters, photo courtesy of www.conwayyen.com

 Was it good? Yes. Is transcendental, and enough to plaster up David Chang photos on the wall with the eyes poked out? Hells no. But the point of group dinners is the meal is just as much about the food as well as the company, or in my case a “bro-fest” of men eating copious amounts of meat and not being the first one to tap out and admit being a bitch (smart) for having too much meat. Although I will not being partaking in anymore bo ssam dinners for a while, emphasis on a while I am temporary waving the white flag (this does not mean I am taking a break from pork, just bo ssam dinners), I suggest if you can get a bunch of friends together to have it and have some fun.

Bo Ssam aftermath, photo courtesy of www.conwayyen.com

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

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