Pork Butt All Day Every Day

10 03 2007

This post is for all us fatties. Eleven of us committed to what could well be the ultimate feast of feasts: the bo ssam at Momofuku Ssam Bar. You have to make reservations in advance so they can prepare this oversized meal for you and your crew. In addition to a WHOLE butt, you get oysters, endless piles of rice and kimchi, and bowls of bibb lettuce. It’s very similar to eating kalbi in a Korean restaurant, in which you pile all those goodies into the lettuce leaves (although in Korean places, they usually give you red leaf lettuce – I think) and stuff into your mouth as fast as you can.

Okay let’s skip the small talk and get right down to business. When A made reservations, Momofuku’s people told her to start with a few small dishes before the monster emerged.

The three terrine bahn mi, in the offal section of the menu, was, if not the best, among the best, I have ever tasted. It’s too bad each of us only took a few nibbles each so that it would last around the table. I would definitely come back for this, and it’s not even their specialty.

Next up, the sea urchin with whipped tofu and tapioca. It was, visually and texturally, an interesting dish. But not incredibly tasty. I’m not a big fan of foamy tasteless matter, which was how the tofu was prepared. We also ordered the grilled sweetbreads, which made up for the sea urchin. They weren’t overly chewy, and had a great rich flavor.

Our last mini goody was what the menu called Tello’s Chawan Mushi, which consisted of an egg custard – steam cooked for that particular egg fluffiness that many Asian cultures have in their egg dishes – with snails (although the menu said oysters, I didn’t see any), scallions and truffles. A good reworking of the dish.

The main course, the reason for our special trip, was crazy, both in size and flavor. The exterior was a bit tough and chewy, but when we dived into the center, tenderness abounded.

Puddles of happy oil lay at the bottom of this dish for gluttons. Due to the high salt content, it was a bit overwhelming to eat alone. But, piled high in a leaf of bibb lettuce with rice and a good amount of regular kimchi or pureed kimchi, it was just right. The dish also came with this ginger scallion sauce which I wasn’t too hot on, but others enjoyed it in great dollops on their pork. The hospitable and knowledgable waiters told us to eat the oysters with the pork, and boy, were they right. It was like heaven in a shell.

All in all, a night of pants-busting adventure, a celebration of all that is great about New York. Also, if your stomach can handle it, walk the couple of blocks to Veniero’s for some superb cannoli to gobble down later, once the pork settles.

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 Second Ave. @ 13th St.

Veniero’s
342 East 11th Street @ First Ave.