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Momofuku Noodle Bar vs. Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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Does anyone have a recommendation/preference for Noodle Bar v Ssäm Bar? I've not been to either, but would like to give one of them a try this weekend. Schedule is flexible, so if there are suggested times to avoid crowds, that info would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Does anyone have a recommendation/preference for Noodle Bar v Ssäm Bar? I've not been to either, but would like to give one of them a try this weekend. Schedule is flexible, so if there are suggested times to avoid crowds, that info would be appreciated. Thanks!

Noodle Bar is very casual. What I got from reading their literature is that Ssam Bar is a bit more upscale. We went on Saturday after Black Friday, got there about 2:30 p.m. and waited maybe10 minutes to be seated. However, by the time we finished there was a line inside to the door and people had been waiting 20-30 minutes.

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Noodle Bar is very casual. What I got from reading their literature is that Ssam Bar is a bit more upscale. We went on Saturday after Black Friday, got there about 2:30 p.m. and waited maybe10 minutes to be seated. However, by the time we finished there was a line inside to the door and people had been waiting 20-30 minutes.

I have the opposite experience of having been to Ssam but not Noodle... Ssam Bar's food may be a bit more upscale, but the vibe is very relaxed. I've never had a problem getting a table within a few minutes for lunch, but I would expect to wait from 4pm-12am. If you get a chance to stop in Bar Bar (new from Momofuku, next door), be sure to let us know how it was!

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The atmosphere is similar at both of them, neither of them is formal but I would say the food at Ssam is slightly more ambitious.

I STRONGLY recommend not ordering the ramen or the pork bun, there are always much more interesting things on either menu.

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If you get a chance to stop in Bar Bar (new from Momofuku, next door), be sure to let us know how it was!

I'd find some way to eat at both

The atmosphere is similar at both of them, neither of them is formal but I would say the food at Ssam is slightly more ambitious.

In the interest of, um... research, we did go to Ssäm Bar, Noodle Bar, and Bar Bar - all within about a 4-hour period.

Started at Ssäm and were seated fairly quickly at the high top communal table. We weren't feeling it, mostly due to the shrill men (yes, men) seated next to us and were quickly and graciously moved to the end of a regular table. Before we moved, I did get to check out the rib eye the folks on the other side were enjoying. 56 oz for $150, served with a potato-ey, bacony bowl of goodness.

Once we were settled, we ordered:

royal miyagi oysters (lady apple, lime, chili) - small and fresh, the crispness of the apple slivers was a nice textural complement.

honeycrisp apple kimchi (maple labne, jowl bacon, arugula) - Loved this dish - great combination of sweet, heat, crunchy, creamy.

spicy pork sausage & rice cakes (chinese broccoli, sichuan peppercorn) - Another winner - the rice cakes were shaped like gnocchi. The combination of the sausage and the 'pasta' brought me back to a childhood Chef Boyardee ravioli sense memory - a much more sophisticated version, but many of the same qualities.

Scottish navy sour (aged rum, scotch, lime, clove) was a very interesting drink, refreshing but smoky from the scotch.

Next up was Noodle Bar - very easy to be seated (it was around 10pm) at one of the long bar/counters. Ordered a special of thai sausage ramen - not too exciting and a little cooler than I would have liked or expected. We also ordered the pork buns, since that is almost obligatory smile.png They were very good - hot and fresh.

Bar Bar (located adjacent to Ssäm) was a nice quiet spot to wind down the evening. Bourbon and ham...the perfect nightcap! Benton's ham and ham chips, along with an old-fashioned. The ham chips were sort of like shrimp toast - crunchy and airy and fun.

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I wouldn't bother with the pork buns on the second visit but never ordering them is kind of like going to NYC and not visting the statue of Liberty. Sounds like an excellent night!

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I can't comment on Ko, but I have had wildly inconsistent meals in my last few visits to Ssam & Noodle bar. One meal spectacular & inspiring followed by a meal totally insipid and feeling of going through the motions. When one of the Momofuku restaurants is on, its a mind expanding experience.

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I agree with Dean that they're inconsistent. I went to Ssam at least 20 times in 2007/08 and I don't think it's anywhere near as good as it was then. Fran Derby taking over the kitchen marked a steep decline in my mind and it got worse again when he left.

The weekday Duck Lunch at Ssam is reliably good though. (Just to be clear I'm endorsing the duck bowl w/rice and scallion pancake {$16} not the other food {just ok as far as I can tell} or the $4 coke.)

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Ssam Bar's duck lunch is what I find myself going back for again and again. And there are some other tasty things on the lunch menu as well - I never go without ordering a crock of pickles, and there's usually a vegetable of the day that's quite good. The duck sandwich, with some house made duck sausage in it, is tasty.

As "the empire" expands, it's harder and harder to find the consistency of the early days at the two flagships. As Dean says, a great meal can be followed by a rather pedestrian one.

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Lunch here (at Noodle Bar) just the other day on our anniversary was really excellent. We started with a nice "pot" of kimchi...

post-6410-0-19954500-1329442633_thumb.jp

One of the earliest dishes to grab attention for David Chang - the pork buns. Yesterday, a special bun made an appearance - this time it was brisket. With horseradish, pickled red onion and cucumber, it was maybe even more delicious than the original...

post-6410-0-14440200-1329442676_thumb.jp

Since we always try to get our veggies, we had to have the baby greens salad, with apple, radish, chestnut and yes, duck proscuitto...

post-6410-0-54197500-1329443108_thumb.jp

One of Sig Eater's old faves, roasted rice cakes, was on the daily blackboard menu, so...

post-6410-0-85341300-1329443152_thumb.jp

To top it all off, another of the daily specials, showcasing duck, this time the leg/thigh meat cooked into a ragu with poblanos, cilantro and a fried egg on top, which when mixed into the rest of the dish created a lovely coating for the noodles...

post-6410-0-03756200-1329443261_thumb.jp

With only minimal pouting, we passed on dessert. After all, dinner at Acme was a mere 5 hours away.

Right now, at least in my last couple of visits to both Noodle and Ssam Bars, the food is coming out much better than okay.

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Lunch here (at Noodle Bar) just the other day on our anniversary was really excellent. We started with a nice "pot" of kimchi...

post-6410-0-19954500-1329442633_thumb.jp

One of the earliest dishes to grab attention for David Chang - the pork buns. Yesterday, a special bun made an appearance - this time it was brisket. With horseradish, pickled red onion and cucumber, it was maybe even more delicious than the original...

post-6410-0-14440200-1329442676_thumb.jp

<snip>

Right now, at least in my last couple of visits to both Noodle and Ssam Bars, the food is coming out much better than okay.

Highway-freakin'-robbery. Those buns look NOTHING like what I got at Ssam Bar last year. Quoting from that:

- famous pork buns ($9 or 11): I had really high hopes for these based on what I'd read and they were the best thing I ordered. But, the pork was dry, they were under seasoned/sauced and the skimpy veggie component (1 or 2 thin sliced cuke discs) made them a kind of blah pork and white flour bread sammie.

WTH?!

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If I lived in the E Village, I'm sure I'd come to Ssam periodically just for something a little different. But after Saturday's lunch, I doubt I'll make the trip across town again. The pork buns were ok, but I found myself taking the meat out of the second one and leaving the rest. I'm not sure how its possible for a steamed bun to be stale, but this one seemed... past its prime. It wasn't bad per se, but nothing like what they used to plate up a few years back. The seasonal pickles were ok - it's hard to go wrong with pickles, but I got the same mix in April as I did in October (not quite so seasonal).

All in all, an ok (if quite pricey) light lunch but not the stellar experience I'd had in the past.

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I've said it before and I'll say it again...Noodle Bar is, for most people, better for lunch than Ssam Bar. However, the duck rotisserie lunch is what to order if you happen to be at Ssam Bar - for lunch.

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