Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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87 Very Good

David Chang’s seminal East Village restaurant is a throwback to early-’00s New York — and it’s still a blast.

207 Second Ave., New York, NY, 10003


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Known For

The lowdown

It’s fitting that the Ssäm Bar sound system still plays songs from the Strokes’ first album: Both are instant reminders of a very particular time in East Village history — specifically: the early ‘00s — that have also aged surprisingly well. In the case of Ssäm Bar, the restaurant has evolved quite a bit since David Chang decided to open it as a Korean-burrito spot in 2006 and eventually turned it into a pioneer of the let-the-cooks-make-and-serve-the-food-they-want-to-cook-for-themselves style of cooking that would go on to define not only Chang’s entire Momofuku empire, but also a decade-plus of restaurants around the world. Ssäm Bar now is mostly an optimized, full-service version of its original self: you can stop in for lunch or brunch, there are backs on the chairs, and you can even order a cup of coffee after your meal if you’re in the mood to linger. Even as the menu has changed, too, the old Ssäm Bar standbys — chewy rice cakes with a Bolognese-like sauce; plates of thin-shaved country ham with that weird (but awesome) coffee-mayonnaise dip; the world-famous pork buns — are still there to remind you what made this place such a sensation in the first place.

What you need to know

Insider Tips The back space that once housed the original Milk Bar and Booker & Dax is now a full-service private dining room.

Recommended DishesSteamed buns; spicy pork sausage and rice cakes; country ham; bo ssäm.

DrinksFull Bar, Sake/Soju

Noise LevelBring earplugs!