March 26, 2008


One of my favorite places to stop for what I like to think of as fast food is at David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar. David, a Korean-American, attended culinary school and worked in some of the finest restaurants in New York City. However, he soon realized that working in fancy food establishments was not his calling, and his real dream was to open a noodle bar. David called it Momofuku, which is Japanese for Lucky Peach, and it wasn't long before it gained recognition in the food world. The menu at the noodle bar is an innovative and delicious mix of Asian cuisine. David uses the finest ingredients, such as produce from local, sustainable farms, and wonderful Berkshire pork, raised naturally. David, who is now an award-winning chef (in fact, last year I had the honor of presenting him with the James Beard award for Rising Star Chef of the Year), has opened two other restaurants called Momofuku Ssäm and Ko. The Momofuku Noodle Bar is located at 171 First Avenue between 10th and 11th streets. But be prepared to wait, because it is very popular.

The entrance with a colorful peach:


A long, empty bar at noon, when the restaurant opened:


This is the menu -- simple, but diverse:


Within 10 minutes, the bar had filled up with hungry lunch patrons:


This is an amazing large-size photo of the rock group The Band, which was taken in Woodstock, New York, in 1967. The band members all look so young. Please excuse the glare off the glass:


In this spotless kitchen, Chef Scott Garfinkel keeps a watchful eye on all the food that is prepared and served. It's also fun watching the chefs in action:


David Chang loves pickles of all kinds. This is a plate of pickled shitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, fennel, celery, carrot, and Asian pear.


A beautiful presentation of sliced hamachi, or yellowtail, with blood oranges:


Steamed pork buns -- Momofuku's signature dish. They're so delicious, I could eat 10 of these!


This is a cold dish of smoked duck breast with mustard seeds, sour cream, and cinnamon. Unbelievably delicious!


And, of course, noodles! This is a bowl of ramen in a deeply rich broth topped with pork belly, shredded pork shoulder, a poached egg, and sliced fish cake. This is real comfort food: