After mentioning that one of the places I needed to hit before I leave was Momofuku for the pork belly baos, my friend Julie suggested I first try Baohaus. She tells me that they were the originator of the pork belly bao, and that I would have something to compare them to when I eat David Chang’s version.
We stopped into Baohaus and ordered three different baos to share. Julie chose the Uncle Jesse ($2.99) an organic fried tofu bao with crushed peanuts, cilantro, Haus relish and Taiwanese red sugar. I didn’t like the texture of the baos, too thick and too toothy. The tofu was well fried, soft on the inside and lightly coated on the outside. It was too mild for me, a little too subtle in flavor and depth — great for vegetarians though.
I chose Chairman Bao ($3.50) — a braised all natural Berkshire pork belly served with the same condiments as the Uncle Jesse. The pork belly was not tender enough and lacked the intensity of color and flavor which I was expecting. It needed to be braised a little longer in a stronger marinade so the fat is rendered through a bit more and the lean meat is softer.
Haus Bao ($3.90) was a braised all natural Creekstone beef cheek with the same condiments — boring! This was more what I had expected, a richly dark piece of meat with full flavors which could stand up to the bao but after three different baos with the same condiments, it got old rather quickly. I’m glad I tried it but it didn’t blow me away by any means.
We started with those ubiquitous pork belly buns ($10/2pcs) with hoisin sauce, scallion and cucumber. There is no comparison! The pork belly was rendered so well that its unctuousness just melted in your mouth. The flavors were nicely infused into the meat and the buns weren’t too thick and of a good consistency. Fantastic!
Brisket Rice Cakes ($14) is a take on the Korean dish ddukboggi but instead of a spicy sauce, Swiss chard, pickle salad and a runny fried egg is incorporated with chunks of fried rice cakes. I had two complaints regarding this dish — one, it needed heat which the hot sauce they provide you with did the trick. Two, not every piece of rice cake was fried throughout to give it that crunchy texture, but when I did get one with the right crispiness, it was divine!
Sadly, the Momofuku Ramen ($16) was very disappointing. I was expecting it to blow me away because I was at “the noodle bar”, but the broth was average. Toppings included tender pork belly, shredded pork shoulder, a soft poached egg, slices of kamaboku (fish cake), and a generous handful of scallions. Though ample, the condiments couldn’t make up for the fact that the noodles were just the generic kind — didn’t taste handmade or anything.
From one Momofuku to another, the Milk Bar was something quite unique and interesting. I was blown away by the rice milk soft serve and the green apple and cheddar soft serve.
I like eating foods like this — something that blows your mind and throws it for a loop. This was essentially ice cream I was eating, but the taste of malted cereal and the tart crisp apple with a salty cheddar finish just made me grin from ear to ear!
Then there was the Crack Pie which didn’t look like anything much but tasted like pecan pie. When eaten together with the apple cheddar soft serve, it enhanced the apple flavors and completely masked the cheddar all together.
It was so weird but not to be missed if you want a palate blowing out of body experience. The Milk Bar is definitely a seriously fun tasting adventure.
238 E 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Momofuku Milk Bar
251 E 13th Street
New York, NY 10003