Momofuku Noodle Bar
While Momofuku Noodle Bar has typically been the most accessible of David Chang's restaurants, at least in terms of price, the recent increase from $20 to $30 on the lunch menu is bound to raise some eyebrows. While I think that the cost is actually justified, because of the quality of the ingredients at play, those looking for the most bang for the caloric buck will need to look towards the noodles and pork buns. But with the new-found freedom in sourcing, the kitchen under Kevin Pemoulie is turning out dishes that are more refined and more luxurious than the comfort staples the noodle bar is known for. (The menu changes daily so the meal I enjoyed will probably not be what you get if you go.)
An amuse of Benton's ham with peach put my mouth into gear with tiny doses of salt, savory, sweetness and tartness.
While Momofuku is best known for the pork buns, these days you don't know what you will find stuffed in to the familiar puffy pockets. Recently I have some filled with shrimp as well as some with thick pieces of country ham. Today the lunch menu had fried oysters which sounded tantalizing, and tasted so, too; they came lightly fried, doused in a jalapeño mayo, and served with delicate slivers of pickled celery and shredded Romaine lettuce. They were delightful, but frankly, each bun needed double the amount of oysters, and not just to justify the price increase. The two provided got lost in a sea of bun.
The roasted hanger steak came expertly prepared—a thick mahogany crust had plenty of crunch to contrast with the buttery, juicy inner flesh. The dish was completed by a medley of roasted fingerlings, eggplant, and heirloom tomatoes served over a tangy kimchi puree.
You get a choice of desserts. Either the soft-serve—the flavors this week are strawberry and sweet pea, seen cavorting together in a twist....
....or an order of cake truffles like the chocolate chip ones pictured above.
The new price increase does seem a bit steep, considering it has risen by $10, but I think that the price is reflected in the quality of the ingredients, not to mention the execution. One can still eat cheaply at Noodle Bar—but the new lunch menu offers something a bit more sophisticated and a bit more adventurous.
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