Friday, May 27, 2011

Momofuku's Duck Bar Extraordinaire

Duck perfection
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true with David Chang's weekday lunch-only duck homage at Momofuku Ssam Bar. All of the action - from ordering to prep - takes place in the back room, the former Milk Bar (don't panic -Milk Bar has conveniently moved directly across the street).

No ordinary sandwich
Order at the counter. First timers, there is only one way to go: duck over rice ($14) with chive pancake ($2). It's a rich, sexy masterpiece.

If two are willing to share, also get the duck sandwich ($12) - a sort of 'Chang' mi, with layers of duck ham, mortadella and duck mousse.

Then sit back, facing the chef, and be seduced by the theatre on display.

The star attraction
It's all happening before wide eyes and drooling mouths. Worship the glistening stars, local Crescent Farms ducks slowly browning to perfection in the Rotisol rotisserie. A cage of fingerling potatoes is just underneath the breasts, basting in a steady, strategic stream of duck fat.

While you watch your meal artfully be prepared, nibble on crunchy pink pickled radishes ($6) and check out what others are eating. It's a communal pleasure. It's also dangerous.

My sister visiting from Chicago and I struck up a conversation with another solo diner, who was equally excited about trying the new menu. Once he saw our order of duck with rice, and how we gushed over each mouthful, he finished his sandwich and ordered a second lunch. I would have done the same.

The famous steamed pork buns ($10) are still on the short lunch menu, but seriously, go for the duck, even if you think you don't like duck. And experiment with the exceptional tableside condiments: addictive seasoned duck fat (go on, add more), chili sauces, hoisin and fried garlic.

Any questions? Ask the incredibly friendly and informed staff. It was obvious how excited they are about the new service. One of them quipped that the condiments alone are so good, you can make a meal out of them. Agreed.

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 Second Ave at 13th St
Duck lunch served Mon - Fri, 11:30 am - 3:30 pm
Weekday lunch entrance on 13th St.
212 254 3500

Momofuku Milk Bar
251  E 13th St. (between First/Second Aves.)

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

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