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Ssäm Kind of Wonderful

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Inevitably, Chang’s sense of largesse sometimes goes over-the-top. My portion of pan-fried skate was obscured by an overly large pile of lemon-peel confit, and the chunky, pricey rib eye ($115 for two) was muffled in too much sweet garlic confit. But this chef’s strength is that he knows what he likes, and what he likes he generally tends to do well. Maybe that’s why there’s no dessert to speak of at Momofuku Ssäm Bar (you can get a selection of Japanese mochi rice balls stuffed with ice cream), though if you order the great Rabelaisian Bo Ssäm, you won’t need any dessert. The entire pork butt costs $180 (it serves six to eight), and has to be ordered in advance. It’s rubbed with a simple mixture of brown sugar and salt, and slow-roasted for eight hours. By the time it’s hoisted to the table (with a flotilla of raw oysters, and lettuce for wrapping), it’s honey brown on the top and soft enough to eat with flimsy Japanese chopsticks. Is it good? Of course. Did it cause me to squeal out, like the other Meatheads at my table, and begin eating with my fingers? I’m ashamed to say that it did.


Momofuku Ssäm Bar
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Address: 207 Second Ave., at 13th St.; 212-254-3500
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Dinner 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Prices: Small plates, $8 to $16; entrées, $19 to $32 ($115 for the rib eye, $180 for the pork butt).
Ideal Meal: Fried Brussels sprouts, three-terrine sandwich, spicy tripe, warm veal-head terrine, Momofuku Ssäm.
Note: Don’t bother with the cafeteria-style lunch, which appears to be a bizarre Korean-fusion approximation of Chipotle’s.
Scratchpad: Could a place that doesn’t even serve coffee really be a three-star restaurant? Maybe not. But since we’re Meatheads, and David Chang is the Nobu of the Meatheads, we can’t resist.


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