Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Kimchi That Made Me Weep OR the Zen of Noodle Mixing

It's been over 24 hours since I ate the kimchi at David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar, not far from Thompkin's Square Park. Over 24 hours later I'm still obsessing over that taste more than any other flavor I ingested yesterday- and there were many. Momofuku's kimchi was hearty, my Friend noted. It was thick and strong and highly addictive. I considered buying the namesake cookbook just for that recipe, if it can be found there.

Neither Friend nor I were disheartened by the long line at Momofuku Noodle Bar. I'd expected as much and with our NYC athletic food deprivation training schedule, we can tolerate a crowded restaurant wait on an empty stomach. Thankfully, there was a vestibule because was bitterly cold in in New York yesterday. People eat noodles quickly though and within half hour, we were seated at the bar. 

Friend and I planned our menu carefully and ordered the prix fixe lunch which included an amuse buche, horseradish mayo + pickled red onions + brisket steam buns (the softest buns this side of a baby), prawn noodles and apple pie cake truffles. We ordered a jar of pickles, one of kimchi and a bowl of Momofuku noodles saturated with pork belly and shoulder.

When our noodles arrived, Friend observed , "I wonder how we should eat this?"

Answered a gentle voice, "There's no wrong way to eat it. Follow your heart."

Who is this cute boy? That would be one Miguel De Leon, a soon-to-be publicist for Momofuku's deserved empire. Miguel, originally a Berkeley man with Chez Panisse training, kindly chatted with us about some of his favorite spots in the neighborhood including surprise hit no-meat-allowed spot Kajitsu for Buddhist veggie slight-of-hand dishes and Abraco for coffee and olive oil cookies. 

Miguel, being both benevolent and food obsessed, slipped us a dish of complimentary soft serve to go with our dense, cinammony apple pie cake truffles. The soft serve was a house-made swirl of practically three dimensional gingerbread (with Momofuku's own candied ginger!) and a scented clove orange ice cream that would put most perfume counters to shame. DELIGHTFUL. We loved Miguel for his great style, generous spirit and Bay Area breeding.

Besides the excellent food that was totally reasonably priced, we appreciated the utility equipment fully on view sans kitsch: soft serve machine, slushy dispenser and chalk boards. And they serve RC cola!

A person wouldn't need more food after our Momofuku meal even if they weren't on a meal deprivation schedule. Nonetheless, friend noted about 7 hours later that I was sleepy, unresponsive and sluggish so we went to the beloved vegetarian B & H Dairy in the East Village. 

 The man working behind the counter was in a bad mood and would NOT let us take his photo, nor would he answer any questions about why B & H is famous. We soon realized his job must be horribly annoying and left him alone.

Counterman scolded us for sitting our 2 person party at the only 4 person table and insisted we move. 

"But it's empty!" we protested, looking around the restaurant at precisely no one else. "And our friend is on her way." True, on both counts.

The latkes were fantastic, fresh and cheap! Slathered with apple sauce and washed down with an iced tea (I wanted a soy milk Egg Cream -I KNOW, I KNOW- but they don't carry soy milk) and soon I was verbal again! Even funny at moments! Little did I know how much sustenance I would need to sneak in to Justin Bond's sold out show at Joe's Pub...

**All images by Michelle Tea, food porn photographer

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