At what point does a craving reach obsession status? What began as a vacation addiction to ramen while in Japan turned into a post-trip craving in Salt Lake City and soon I was tracking down the comforting bowl of noodles everywhere I went, from Los Angeles to Chicago and even Montréal. So of course ramen was on my to do list while in New York City, especially once it started snowing.
I was recommended Momofuku Noodle Bar, the first of David Chang’s Momofuku empire that now includes five restaurants in New York City, all with impressive awards (including Momofuku Ko that has maintained two Michelin Stars for five years), plus establishments in Toronto and Sydney. Chang is also co-creator of Lucky Peach magazine, a quarterly food journal published by McSweeney’s.
The tiny ramen shop, which has a Michelin Bib Gourmand recommendation itself, sits in the East Village surrounded by dozens of other Japanese restaurants each focused on a specialty like shabu shabu, curry or yakitori, inspiring the area around East 9th street to be dubbed “Little Tokyo.” Momofuku Noodle Bar serves several types of ramen, seasonal small plates, fried chicken (advanced notice only) and their famous pork buns.
My friend and I arrived at Momofuku Noodle Bar on Sunday, craving ramen for warmth after a weekend of snow. It was crowded and hectic, like a ramen shop should be, with bar seating and communal tables. Reservations are only accepted for the fried chicken but they’ll take your number and send a text when a table is available, giving us enough time to explore the surrounding neighborhood.
I ordered the Momofuku ramen, with pork belly, pork shoulder, a beautiful poached egg and the regular trimmings of seaweed, fish cake and green onions. My friend picked the spicy miso ramen (with smoked chicken, swiss chard and sesame) but he ended up with a bowl identical to mine. The broth was deliciously savory and slightly meaty and, when paired with a glass of momofuku sake, was the perfect remedy for the cold day.
The service was a bit frantic but the ramen was delightful, so we left pleased with bellies full of warmth to battle the rest of our day in New York City.
Go to Momofuku Noodle Bar for :: ramen. Don’t forget the pork belly buns (like I did!). Notes :: Open for lunch Monday-Friday 12-4:30 p.m., weekends 12-4 p.m. and dinner Sunday-Thursday 5:30-11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Friend Momofuku on facebook and follow them on twitter or tumblr.