Bo Ssam Feast
After hearing rave reviews, I finally made it to Momofuku Ssam Bar back in December for the titular feast. As many of you know, SHR and I are huge fans of the Noodle Bar, so I was especially excited to try the Ssam Bar, and more excited still to eat the Bo Ssam.
The Bo Ssam is colossal and not served during peak hours, which makes it incredibly tricky to schedule. For maximum enjoyment, you really need eight solid eaters for this meal to prevent yourself from feeling completely overwhelmed. You could probably get by with six SERIOUS ROCKSTAR eaters, but if you have anyone in your party who you suspect might not be able to pull their own weight, you should try to have more like ten, especially if you want to sample some of their tasty apps. Unfortunately, since we had to reserve for either before 6:00p or after 10:00p, getting the correct amount of eaters was impossible. There were only five of us and I won’t name names (initials are TB), but one of us was not doing the sort of quality eating that was really required for such an endeavor.
We started with a bottle of Albert Mann Gewurztraminer (we actually ordered the Albert Mann Crémant d'Alsace, but were brought this by mistake – it was very tasty, but just not what I wanted) and one of the country ham plates. Truthfully, I have no recollection of which one as I was suffering from a nearly terminal case of Bo Ssam brains. Since SHR wrote about it in September, let’s just pretend it was the Edwards’ Wigwam Smoked Ham.
Not recommended for one who keeps kosher, the Bo Ssam consists of an entire pork butt, a dozen oysters, kimchi, rice and bibb lettuce to wrap it all up in. YUM. The things I love most in this world are pork and oysters, so I was basically living out my dream, wondering what I had done to be so lucky. The oysters were brought to the table first, along with all of the aforementioned accoutrements and the bottle of sparkling we initially ordered (bubbly and oysters – a classic combination, reminds me of New Year’s in Paris…). You’re supposed to wrap the oysters up in the bibb lettuce with the pork and all of the other deliciousness, but I couldn’t wait another second and had to slurp one down immediately. And then it arrived - the pièce de résistance:
The pork butt was so phenomenally delicious and succulent that I cannot believe I have let forty-six days go by without eating it again. And the fact that there are people out there who have never even eaten it is an absolute injustice. Despite the fact that it would never make it past the mezuzah, the pork butt was so tender that it reminded me of eating brisket at Seder (my friend Nate’s mom makes the best I’ve ever tasted, by the way). I loved tearing off pieces of the gargantuan pork butt with my chopsticks and wrapping them up in the lettuce, experimenting with the various sauces and creating new taste sensations. My favorite combination involved plying the lettuce leaf with a layer of spicy red sauce, a layer of spicy green sauce (very similar to the light green sauce commonly served with Peruvian chicken, which I guess is called Aji?), the whole kimchi (as opposed to puréed) and an ample portion of pork. I made one oyster and pork combo wrap, but I found that I actually preferred keeping those flavors separate. While I love oysters and could easily polish off three dozen in one sitting, I felt like the pork was just TOO GOOD and that the former was compromising the integrity of the latter.
The Bo Ssam was not only one of the most perfectly delectable things I have eaten in years, but it was very reasonably priced as well. I would even go so far as to say it was exceptionally cheap at $180, which split by six or eight people is an absolute steal when you factor in all of the deliciousness. Anyway, I would like to do it again soon. Like I said, I need five SERIOUS eaters to accompany me – let’s make it happen!