You can go for lunch in just about any city and feel a subtle anxiety beforehand over whether you’re going to be able to find a place to sit or not. You can then imagine the uncertainty we felt when we decided to attempt a lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar on a Tuesday afternoon.
To say I had high expectations for Noodle Bar is an understatement. We had eaten at Momofuku Ssam Bar the night before (followed by a dessert stop at Milk Bar) and absolutely loved it. There was such energy in both places that it left me asking the question: Is this the Generation X/Y’s expression of haute cuisine? To say I was giddy with anticipation, as I strode up First avenue, is an understatement.
As we approached the understated front of the restaurant, I was relieved to not see a queue spilling out onto the sidewalk. It was noon and we were seated immediately (very happy.) The interior is very similar to that of Ssam in the sense that a bar runs the length of the left side of dining room with plywood tables and backless chairs down the right.
I’m not going to act like I looked at the menu for any longer than ten seconds. I knew what I was getting order before I walked into the place. Since Regina wanted to eat over at Rickshaw Dumpling afterward, she said she’d this lunch was all me. Anything that was ordered was mine. With that I ordered the chicken wings and the Momofuku Ramen.
The wings are an absolute monster. As with most things Momofuku, you’ve had something like these, but these are just a better version. Instead of being slathered in sauce these are layered with garlic, pickled chiles, and scallions. They’re crispy with a subtle bite of spice and the end. I could have sat at the table and eaten these damn things the whole time.
….then there’s the pork buns. The buns themselves have the look and feel of a light and fluffy omelet; only instead of egg it’s made from white bread (only they're white). These things are all about mouth feel. As you sink your teeth into the soft bun you find the hoisin and pork belly waiting for you inside – simple and deeeeeelicious.
This place is not to be missed.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003