Valentine's Day dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar
DMR made a surprise visit to Manhattan on Valentine's Day. He was trying to find me a Wii, but 15 months after its launch, those things are still impossible to track down. So instead, we had an impromptu dinner at the Ssam Bar which I'll take as a consolation prize any day.
Here's the house pickle plate, featuring radish and cabbage kimchi along with Tokyo radish, jicama, Korean pear, carrots, fennel, celery, cucumbers, beets and shitake mushrooms. Sweet, spicy, tangy and crisp.
The cured hamachi comes with radish sprouts, horseradish cream and edamame. Sprinkled atop is a furikake of dried seaweed and little round rice crackers, whose crunch works great against the butteriness of the yellowtail.
You can't eat at Momofuku without ordering the pork buns. Melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly tucked into spongy white buns with cucumber slices and a schmear of plum sauce. Addictive.
I've previously had this dish with cauliflower, but here it's the brussels sprout that gets the fish sauce, chili and puffed rice treatment. I never imagined talking so lovingly about either of these vegetables.
For the entree, we split the spicy sausage, Chinese greens and rice cake stir fry. Rice cakes take on such an amazing texture when they are fried - the outside begins to puff and crackle like pork skin, while the inside remains chewy.
The meal was washed down with a couple OB beers, which is basically the Bud of Korea.
On the way to the subway, we encountered the Wafels and Dinges truck and I ordered up a liege waffle. I was disappointed to get a pre-made waffle that was heated up on the iron, rather than one made-to-order. The waffle didn't even get very warm.