Momofuku Noodle Bar, David Chang’s hip new space on the third floor at Time Warner Center, lives up to the hype. First, my compliments to the host who was a perfect gentleman, even as throngs of people marched through the door on opening night. I was one of them. I usually like to let new places breath a bit before visiting, but in this case, I was more than willing to be part of the scene. And I am glad I did.
The space is sleek with two long counters, including one overlooking a busy open kitchen. Diners are handed a paper menu, and check off the items they'd like to try including drinks. It's sort of like checking off your score at a miniature golf course with a short pencil. It's gimmicky, but fun.
Cocktails are offered including a Tiki Highball made with Japanese whiskey and soda. Monkey Fizziness gets gin, white vermouth, beet bonji and tonic. The Sundial, which we tried, is a fruity mix of tequila, suze, orange and mandarin blossom. Star-shaped slices of orange zest dance along the top. It's also quite refreshing. An assortment of beer, cider and wine can also be purchased.
Hand-rolled bread is steamed and comes with a choice of Spicy Pork Dip with smoked belly, Caramelized Shiitake with hoisin & cucumber, and Seared shrimp with pickled red onion. Other small plates include crispy Fried Blue Prawns served with the heads still on. (I'm told you can eat them head and all.) We dunked them into a yuzu mayo. Amazing.
Noodles are served five different ways. Varieties include Spicy Beef Ramen made with juicy brisket and water spinach; Garlic Chicken Ramen, Smoked Pork Belly with egg yolk; Ginger Scallion Noodles with pickled vegetables and Mixed Spicy Noodles with fried egg. All come with Momofuku's barley noodles. Larger plates include Spicy oxtail with rice cakes and daikon, and Seared Dover Sole with fermented chili sauce and lemon. For dessert, there's soft-serve ice cream with puffed rice.
Momofuku Noodle Bar is one reason to head uptown.
- Thomas Rafael