Saturday, January 26, 2008

Late Night Korean Hot Pot.....actually a midnight snack

ban chan: kimchee in the middle surrounded by other marinated veggies - like radish, cucumbers, bell peppers with veggies....

Yukae Jang: Spicy Beef Soup - my favorite hot n' spicy soup; will kill any bug lingering in you.....

Rice dousing is necessary for this savory soup......

If you're viewing this for the first time; I know this might look frightening...but imagine the taste memory of beef stew yet spicy with shredded tender flank steak, chewy noodles, green onions, veggies in a spicy, salty, savory broth tempered with fluffy white rice: HEAVEN

Is it Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchi Jigae? Anyways....took a late night red eye for Kimchi Jjigae a.k.a. Kimchi Stew.....

We found this restaurant only a stone's throw away from Times Square. This was AFTER small bites(!) at Bobby Flay's Bolo (since December 31, 2007 has sinced closed after some 15 years or so :() - we were still hungry! I have to say since my return from nyc; I've been doing a raw foodist thing to get back to mormal. I'll post on that later.

WonJo Restaurant is located in New York's Korea Town area or Korea Way which is located between 5th Avenue and Broadway. It's a narrow passage full of restaurants, shops, Karoake Bars and a Korean grocery store stock full of everything I've missed since I left California.

I found their food hearty, extremely well prepared and close to Korean home cooking (this is hard to say because I come from an extremely versed family of incredible cooks).

After all that eating; I had this intense desire to check out their Karoake scene.
WHY YOU ask? I have no idea - but it was a desire for some reason.

Now the last time I went to Karoake it was probably some years ago when I lived in L.A. It's usually a restaurant/bar that has a Karoake stage for public viewing and participation right? Well we hit two Karoake bars on Korean Way and they only had PRIVATE Karoake ROOMS! What was that?

Basically, the patrons rented out a private room that had a flat screen with mic and their selections of music/videos. There were groups of really really young kids so I realized they probably didn't have their own place to do this. It wouldn't be cool to do this at home in your room while your parents were in the house right?

I realized this is their WAY (the kids) of having their own place with friends to hang out and Karoake.


I'm glad I have my own room.....whether to Karoake or not; but most likely to eat crackers and chocolate in bed :)

WonJo Restaurant
23 West 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
Tel 212.695.5815

Friday, January 11, 2008

radically alive @ Momofuku's

steamed bun: shiitake mushrooms with crunchy marinated cucumbers hidden inside......

Hey I'm back and returning to write about more food news about town. My eating trip to New York was a well fed one - yes; it was awhile back ago (s/b December '07). I am ready to blast out savory posts as promised.

I am excited to tell about my anticipated lunch at Momofuku in the East Village.

When my love called and mentioned he was free for lunch that afternoon - I was literally munching on my late morning snack from the mega buffet at Whole Foods @ Union Square. We met up and grabbed a subway to 1st Avenue and found our way to 10th Street.

Once inside, it was alive with patrons hankering over bowls of ramen, steamed buns, gooksu, and roasted brussel sprouts - you gotta love it!

We started with the steamed buns with options of chicken, shiitake or pork. We went with the shiitake bun. We were seated bar side literally in full view overlooking the kitchen in live process. The buns were assembled fresh. First a light douse of their special sauce, thin sliced marinated cucumbers and then the chewy shiitakes before the entire bun was gently rolled over.

My first bite yielded the scent of yeast and rice wine that resonated from the dough. The tender mushrooms met well with the cucumbers that also held it's own. Between bites and a few profanities from the aggravated kitchen manager behind the bar; it was a fine moment that attested my senses.

pork neck ramen: braised neck meat, ramen noodles, scallions, bamboo shoots, roasted seaweed and poached egg

The ramen - it was time for the ramen.

This is what I was waiting for.


Savoring about.

The highlight of the ramen bowl were the house made noodles - chewy & dense. The braised pork meat - tender and sweet. The poached egg was not an afterthought. It was a well bred poached egg that sweltered with just enough resistance when I broke its sack. Poached to its peak; it went on its merry way to join hands with the rest of the order to celebrate their assemblage.

I have had ramen many times over. I'm a noodle freak - love Japanese style noodles. This was different. It tamed away from the traditional and most often times commercially light cherry brightness of the former Japanese style noodle soups I have encountered. Momofuku Ramen had more of an earthy appeal in its broth. That was fine with me as it reminded me very well of the Japanese restaurants in the side skirted parts of town in West L.A. and Culver City California that served up Japanese homestyle cooking straight from mamasan's kitch.

There was a lotta testosterone behind the bar as we watched the kitchen staff in between our noodle slurps. The proprietor and innovator of it all, Chef David Chang was there and calmly churned out the prize winning fare with his staff.

I was duly impressed with the tight concept of the menu. Inspired by Japanese home cooking, yet harnessed with heavy Korean appeal sewn in between with southern fare like grits, ham, bacon and collard greens.

seasonal pickled vegetables platter: we ate this between bites of noodles and fanfare of pork

All is fair and happy on pork @ momofuku's.

They also offered pork belly with the noodles which I didn't order. I am an ardent fan of pork fat - I have to admit. But I prefer it roasted crisp. Perhaps like bacon with the dripping glazed over. I even love deep fried pork rinds and don't get me started on charcoal grilled pigs feet! The pork belly served up here appeared to be braised and came through with an ample amount of that underbelly fat still gelatinous. I'm sure to try it on my next return though. You've gotta at least try it once or you will never know what your missing.....and what you're missing could be really good.

Ginger Scallion: noodles below with scallions, cukes, collard greens, roasted cauliflower, bamboo shoots and a wedge of roasted nori.

What a combination!

But it all worked out in the end.

I'm glad I went - I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity.

Well.....I kept hearing the word about the chef - David Chang as 'radical' and 'innovative'....... He also garnered the 2007 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef and also Bon Appetit's 2007 Chef of the Year Award.

Sounds too resplendent......hmmmm....I had to check it out. I can see why. The menu is tight. The concept is tight. The quality is tight. It was good.

Afterwards we walked about the neighborhood full of more restaurants, dumpling shops, sushi bars, Italian bistros, art galleries and wine bars. We finally stopped at an Italian bakery to graze over hand made cookies and latte.

momofuku noodle bar
171 First Avenue
New York, New York
Tel 212.777.7773

Next post: My late night eating habit gives way at WONJO in Manhattan opening doors to down home Korean fare......