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Momofuku CCDC (2015-2020), a Popular New York Pan-Asian Chain in City Center, Open for Lunch and Dinner Seven Days


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David Chang has done more than any other chef to elevate the perception of non-japanese Asian food in America. I remember as a kid, people (including adults) would see the food I ate at home and call

Since you asked, our contribution covers 100% of the insurance for our employees. 

One of the chefs here is our downstairs roommate; went last night to check it out. Old Bay pork rinds ($6) were the weakest dish - pork skin's always tasty (natch), but the pieces are huge and cumbe

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What kind of Momofuku is it?

Seems to be its own thing. The current menu has a mix of Chang's most iconic dishes (minus the fried chicken, most notably) as well as a few new ones (old bay pork rinds, a selection of salads are the ones that catch my eye), from what I can see. Interesting that the article mentions that just days ago, he had no plans to carry over the pork buns or the ramen but as you can see, they made the cut in the end. Good thing too as I think not having those dishes would have been a pretty big mistake. http://momofuku.com/dc/ccdc/menu/#

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Menus from tonight's opening night of Momofuku (not Momofuku Milk Bar) are attached below.

My thoughts:

their selection of wines by the glass is pricey.

biscuit bites are flaky mini biscuits with szechuan (peppercorn) flavored honey butter.

kimchi pork stew has more of a smokey pork flavor than a pungent kimchi flavor.  Also comes with a side of rice.

David Chang was there (as expected).

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Menus from tonight's opening night of Momofuku (not Momofuku Milk Bar) are attached below.

My thoughts:

their selection of wines by the glass is pricey.

biscuit bites are flaky mini biscuits with szechuan (peppercorn) flavored honey butter.

kimchi pork stew has more of a smokey pork flavor than a pungent kimchi flavor.  Also comes with a side of rice.

David Chang was there (as expected).

Here are some other Momofuku threads:

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Wow. $13 for a draft beer, $20+ glasses of wine. Think dinner here will be a sober night for me.

Any thoughts on how long Chang will stick around?

Masseria is the only restaurant I can think of that has all-double-digit beers - Momofuku's $13 offering is Left Hand Milk Stout - certainly a decent beer but not exactly rare or precious, or even all that expensive (maybe it's a nonic pint?) At least Momofuku has single-digit options; at Masseria, once you're in, there's no out.

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and sometimes I think I'm missing out when the doctor told me all those years ago that I am effectively banned from drinking alcohol of any sort. I'll stick with old faithful: good ol' fashioned real-sugarcane Mexican Coke

You're not missing as much as you think. I had a Mexican coke just last week at Pizzeria Bianco.

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You're not missing as much as you think. I had a Mexican coke just last week at Pizzeria Bianco.

If you have a Costco membership, they sell it by the case at basically all their stores. (sorry if this is getting too off topic! I originally mentioned it because Momofoku serves it as well, according to their online menu.)

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Masseria's the only restaurant I can think of that has all-double-digit beers - Momofuku's $12 offering is Left Hand Milk Stout - certainly a decent beer but not exactly rare or precious, or even all that expensive. At least Momofuku has single-digit options; at Masseria, once you're in, there's no out.

DC Brau for $9 and Yuengling (!!!) for $7. That's an affront to god. I like (his public persona, local backstory, food philosophy) Dave Chang a lot, but I won't be going there looking to drink. More likely to visit at 11pm after the crowds die down and I've already had quite a few.

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I like (his public persona, local backstory, food philosophy) Dave Chang a lot 

I've had plenty of great meals at David Chang's restaurants (I can still vividly recall the first time I had the sichuan crawfish at the original Momofuku) but the continuously self-effacing public persona is wearing a little thin for me. From the Washington Post feature:

Chang originally intended his D.C. location to cover only a fraction of that space, roughly where the private dining room (or "PDR" in Chang-speak) sits in the current layout. He envisioned an intimate, 90-seat spot, not the nearly 200-seat playground he's now opening. But this being Washington, Chang figured it would be almost impossible to launch a restaurant without a separate dining space for the fat cats or, possibly, the president.

A PDR doesn't exactly fit the image of a chef better known for his punkish, apolitical personality. "Do I really want one in the ethos of what we do?" Chang said. "No. But, like, I have to make some concessions."

"This is actually a serious debate: Do we offer pork buns?" Chang was also debating whether he'd sell his exquisite, deeply flavored noodle soup, the bowl that has assumed the name of his very restaurant group: Momofuku ramen.

"Yesterday," Chang said about a closed service prior to opening, "we didn't serve Momofuku ramen. We don't want to, because there's a lot of ramen everywhere."

Seriously, you're thinking about not serving ramen in Washington?

"Yeah," he said.

C'mon, you're not serious.

"I'm serious," Chang shot back. "Dude, I'm dead serious."

Saturday he wrote "Against my better judgement @momofuku ccâš¡ï¸dc opens today at 5pm"

Last year in GQ he wrote a piece called "My Name Is David Chang and I Hate Fancy Beer":

For years I've watched craft-beer aficionados go on about their triple-hopped IPAs and cocoa-flavored English milk stouts while inside I've harbored a dark secret: I love cheap, watery swill. Singha, Tecate, Miller High Life"”they're all the champagnes of beer, and for more reasons than you think

Momofuku CCDC doesn't carry Singha, Tecate, or Miller High Life, but they do carry an IPA and a milk stout.

Are his doubts and uncertainties sincere? Sure. But it's self promotion too, and over the past decade it's been a much sharper form of self promotion than sending press releases about how great your food is and having media dinners.

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I've had plenty of great meals at David Chang's restaurants (I can still vividly recall the first time I had the sichuan crawfish at the original Momofuku) but the continuously self-effacing public persona is wearing a little thin for me. From the Washington Post feature:

Could not agree more re: his public persona.  I have found 80% of the stuff that he has written for GQ to be a bit silly and trying too hard to evoke some reaction from the reader, whether he believes what he's saying or not.  I don't know where this faux-badass act came from, I seem to remember him coming across as a nice, easygoing guy when he first started showing up on shows like No Reservations and the like.

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Seems to be its own thing. The current menu has a mix of Chang's most iconic dishes (minus the fried chicken, most notably) as well as a few new ones (old bay pork rinds, a selection of salads are the ones that catch my eye), from what I can see. Interesting that the article mentions that just days ago, he had no plans to carry over the pork buns or the ramen but as you can see, they made the cut in the end. Good thing too as I think not having those dishes would have been a pretty big mistake. http://momofuku.com/dc/ccdc/menu/#

The fried chicken is available as a reservation item for enough people.  I was just checking because my mom will be in town in November and has had her eye on the bo ssam for quite some time.

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Great.  Another place to stand in line for. ;)

Not if you and your crew mateys can down the bo ssam (or fried chicken) with ye grog.  Arrrgh!

Also, pirates can make reservations in advance. ;)

ETA - my knowledge was outdated.

In the beginning Chang created Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar.  The restaurants accepted no reservations.  Then Chang said, "let those people who want to drop lots of money on my group meals be able to do so" and there was reservation for those willing to drop the dough.  Chang saw that reservation was good, and he allowed reservations for normal diners.

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Great.  Another place to stand in line for. ;)

For sure.

I tried to get a reservation for some random Tuesday and they are completely booked up for as far out as their calendar shows. It's a little strange - you have to register your email address on their site, and then they send you a confirmation email, and then you can try to reserve a table. I found no tables via their website. Just for kicks I tried to do it on the OpenTable app and I found some time slots open in the late evening (9:45, 10:00 etc) a couple weeks out.

Speaking of reservations and lines, everything I've read (all probably sourced from the same press release) says they're offering limited reservations and keeping the majority of tables for walk ins. The thing I haven't seen is the number of tables in each category.

Does anyone know how many tables they have for walk ins? More than Rose's? And do they do it like Rose's/Komi - - you put your name in and go somewhere else to wait? And is it like Rose's where they can be completely booked for the night by 6pm?

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Does anyone know how many tables they have for walk ins? More than Rose's? And do they do it like Rose's/Komi - - you put your name in and go somewhere else to wait? And is it like Rose's where they can be completely booked for the night by 6pm?

Bart, not sure on the ratio of reservations to walk-in tables held, but when we went Sunday evening, there was a line. Everyone waited in line outside; when people left, another couple or two would move inside to their little receiving area / host stand and put their name down, at which point they took your phone number and texted you when your table was ready (no one left, but rather just waited in that area as most tables were ready within five minutes or so).

After putting our name in *after* waiting in line, I wasn't really sure why you wouldn't be able to walk in and put your name down and then leave and wait for a text; I was kind of just going with the crowd. For what it's worth (and keep in mind this was a Sunday night), by 8:30, there was no line outside and there appeared to be no wait for tables.

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Great.  I once ordered the Crack Pie from the NYC Milkbar for Christmas dinner and paid the prohibitive overnight shipping cost (I think $68).  If you haven't had it, Crack Pie is aptly named, and now we can just get it as a pick-up item.  Yay!

Yay! until you get a $100 speeding ticket on K Street. <_<

Meanwhile, I'll be in my cave with the doors bolted shut, and a slot for meal drop-offs. :)

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A few notes after having dinner last night:

First, the wait wasn't bad at all for a Saturday night--about 45 minutes, though it was earlier in the evening (we checked in around 6).

Second, they've knocked a couple of dollars off the beer price compared to what was posted in the thread last week  They've also swapped out Yuengling for a Berliner Weiss from Caboose Brewery (I had never heard of them before--it was a solid Berliner Weiss with the right amount of sour bite to it).  I meant to ask if they have bombers or 750 ml bottles of beer on offer.  I hope they do because I have fond memories of ordering Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace or similar 750 ml bottles at the original location.

Finally, I decided to have dinner here sooner rather than later because David Chang makes it seem like he's not happy with the "best of" approach to the menu, so I want to get a fill of my favorites before he transforms it.  The shiitake buns were probably the most meaty, umami flavor I've tasted in years since becoming vegetarian.  The Hozon ramen was also really good--it's a deep, earthy vegetarian ramen, especially compared to Daikaya's bright, delicate ramen that puts the focus more on the vegetables.  Both ramens excel at what they do (and right now, I'd say both noodles are about equal).

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Finally, I decided to have dinner here sooner rather than later because David Chang makes it seem like he's not h appy with the "best of" approach to the menu, so I want to get a fill of my favorites before he transforms it.  

I feel the same way.  I've never been to any of his places and have never had any of his dishes, greatest hits or otherwise.  I'd probably be thrilled with 90% greatest hits and 10% new stuff.....sort of like seeing a band you like but don't follow obsessively.  "I'll sit through, and maybe even enjoy the new tunes, but you better play 'Maybe I'm Amazed', 'Band on the Run' and a lot of Beatles songs" (If I use Paul McCartney as my example).

I guess I better get there soon.

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Here's a crazy interview with David Chang by Todd Kliman in the Washingtonian.

He uses my band/greatest hits analogy that I used in the above post, but I swear, I didn't see it before I wrote my post!

He's very, very involved in this opening.  I wonder if all the celeb chefs are so involved in their new places.  I kind of doubt it (based on no real info!)

I didn't read the interview, but I counted the word "fuck," or variations of the word "fuck," 59 times in his responses.

And now you know why I didn't read the interview, though I'm sure I eventually will.

As my mom used to tell me, "Using bad language is a sign of a limited vocabulary." She was wrong, of course (*), but she also made a good point - I think the f-bomb is best left for stand-up comics, and even in that genre, it has grown largely tiresome. Richard Pryor could pull it off, but there has been a flood of cheap imitators since him.

(*) I cuss a lot, but I do it in a way that's genuine and seems to make people laugh; I don't do it to sound tough, or to try and identify with Joe Everyman, because that's not who I am.

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I read Kliman's interview and I'm impressed by how well Chang pays his BOH staff.  That definitely makes the $17 bowl of ramen a lot more reasonable.  A world where everyone in the restaurant business has decent health insurance and can afford to live in the city they work in, is a better world.

You beat me by 1 minute! As David Chang would say, "#$%&**#$^$#!"

I was impressed by what he's paying people too, but I'm not sure if that is actually happening now, or the goal for the future. Here's the paragraph:

"I think for me the overriding principle is, we have the opportunity now where we can do better. Where we can pay our line cooks generally $25-$30 an hour, and not be limited by $15 an hour. And my sous chefs can all get paid $100,000 minimum. And my managers. And can we start paying our purveyors what they should be getting? This is the goal, at least"”a discussion of how a restaurant company can evolve. I'm so conscious of what a self-important jerk I can sound like, but that, to me, is worth exploring."

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I didn't read the interview, but I counted the word "fuck," or variations of the word "fuck," 59 times in his responses.

And now you know why I didn't read the interview, though I'm sure I eventually will.

As my mom used to tell me, "Using bad language is a sign of a limited vocabulary." She was wrong, of course (*), but she also made a good point - I think the f-bomb is best left for stand-up comics, and even in that genre, it has grown largely tiresome. Richard Pryor could pull it off, but there has been a flood of cheap imitators since him.

(*) I cuss a lot, but I do it in a way that's genuine and seems to make people laugh; I don't do it to sound tough, or to try and identify with Joe Everyman, because that's not who I am.

Don, if you actually read the interview, I promise that you won't find it to be a pose, or a tough-guy or faux-populist act.  It's unfiltered insanity.

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I read Kliman's interview and I'm impressed by how well Chang pays his BOH staff.  That definitely makes the $17 bowl of ramen a lot more reasonable.  A world where everyone in the restaurant business has decent health insurance and can afford to live in the city they work in, is a better world.

I was impressed by what he's paying people too, but I'm not sure if that is actually happening now, or the goal for the future. Here's the paragraph:

"I think for me the overriding principle is, we have the opportunity now where we can do better. Where we can pay our line cooks generally $25-$30 an hour, and not be limited by $15 an hour. And my sous chefs can all get paid $100,000 minimum. And my managers. And can we start paying our purveyors what they should be getting? This is the goal, at least"”a discussion of how a restaurant company can evolve. I'm so conscious of what a self-important jerk I can sound like, but that, to me, is worth exploring."

I had the same question as Bart: in reading that quote, I thought Chang was saying that's what he *eventually wants to get to*, not what he's doing now. Is that the wrong reading? I ask because our downstairs roommate is one of the (I think he said four, maybe five) sous chefs, and he just burst out laughing when I asked him about the $100k number I read in Kliman's piece. If Chang (and the restaurant industry in general) can eventually get to that point, then yes, I agree with astrid - I'd feel much more comfortable dropping $17 for a bowl of ramen.

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It would appear that Momofucku Noodle bar offers starting line cooks a rather standard and anemic $12.50/hr in comparison to the $25-$30-$100,000 fantasy.

Though the 401k swear jar pays off handsomely.

attachicon.gifScreenshot 2015-11-02 at 11.07.45.png

Just a reminder to line cooks about this job opening which is for a better chef, pays more, and has better benefits.

I just skimmed most of the interview, and I'm having trouble buying into the strip mall nonsense - if he wanted to open in a strip mall, he would have, period. From what I see, we're dealing with one of the ten most overhyped culinary figures in America, and he could put an end to the hype anytime he wanted to.

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From what I see, we're dealing with one of the ten most overhyped culinary figures in America, and he could put an end to the hype anytime he wanted to.

And why would he want to do that? He's incredibly successful.

And he serves good food.

There are plenty of chefs/restauranteurs out there with big mouths that can't back it up...I'd save my scorn for them.

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There are plenty of chefs/restauranteurs out there with big mouths that can't back it up...I'd save my scorn for them.

I have no scorn; I'm observing and pointing out what I see, and I observe that he's talking like he wants to "get away from it all":

I have a lot of guilt about a lot of things. I have guilt that this is this restaurant. For a long time, I wanted it to be a hole in the wall restaurant. I wanted this in a strip mall. Any strip mall in the DC area. Literally, like a strip mall. Like Three Pigs in McLean [now closed].

Do you really believe that's what he wanted? This is the same folksy bullshit that elects presidents. Look at the response to my Tweet (by a widely respected wine critic).

And why would he want to do that? He's incredibly successful.

And of course he wouldn't want to do that (which was exactly my point) - it's a brilliant marketing tactic, endearing him to the unquestioning masses with high disposable incomes and fawning restaurant critics not unlike Bourdain. Yet, he talks as if he's shooting for the stars, while at the same time opening restaurant-after-restaurant; the two are incompatible. But you already know that.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only sane person in this world; other times I wonder if I'm the only insane person in this world.

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Hmmm, all hat and no cattle, that's very disappointing.  I would like hyper-successful celebri-chefs to take the lead and pay their BOH staff a true living wage, an amount that lets people raise a family and have a life-long career with.  I truly believe that a restaurant that treats all its staff well and can keep the best of the best, is one that would also serve its guests the best food and provide the best overall experience.  Fine dining is a luxury.  It would be nice if we all paid a little more so that people who gave us the experience can also have some nice things in their lives.

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I had the same question as Bart: in reading that quote, I thought Chang was saying that's what he *eventually wants to get to*, not what he's doing now. Is that the wrong reading? I ask because our downstairs roommate is one of the (I think he said four, maybe five) sous chefs, and he just burst out laughing when I asked him about the $100k number I read in Kliman's piece. If Chang (and the restaurant industry in general) can eventually get to that point, then yes, I agree with astrid - I'd feel much more comfortable dropping $17 for a bowl of ramen.

This seems pretty obvious to me: This is the goal, at least"”a discussion of how a restaurant company can evolve. I'm so conscious of what a self-important jerk I can sound like, but that, to me, is worth exploring.

No claim of paying more than he is, just a statement of what he'd like to evolve the company into. Kind of sad that a (totally mis-interpreted) offhand comment inspires so much criticism

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Kind of sad that a (totally mis-interpreted) offhand comment inspires so much criticism

I think it's kind of sad that it gets so much press, because it's not going to happen.

"I want to keep growing my business so I can cure the world of all known diseases. Aren't I a great guy?"

Chang is probably worth many millions of dollars, but he's paying his line cooks $12.50 an hour in New York City - give me a break with the empty rhetoric and do something about it.

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I'm not really critical of David Chang and I hope his BOH staff reads the interview and lights a fire under him.  Just sad that as of right now, even David Chang can't or won't pay his BOH staff handsomely.  There are waiters at certain fine dining restaurants that get close to or at six figures, and almost nobody goes to a restaurant for its FOH no matter how nice it is.  Why can't the chefs and cooks who actually created the deliciousness get compensated at that level?

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How much does Jose Andres pay his line cooks?

Just asked my dude from Momofuku (who was at Oyamel before he moved over to Chang) - he said line cooks for Jose start at $15/hr. Still not enough, IMHO, but good to hear Jose treats his BOH crew better than most.

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I think it's kind of sad that it gets so much press, because it's not going to happen.

"I want to keep growing my business so I can cure the world of all known diseases. Aren't I a great guy?"

Chang is probably worth many millions of dollars, but he's paying his line cooks $12.50 an hour in New York City - give me a break with the empty rhetoric and do something about it.

I'm surprised there's so much Chang-hate going on.

At least he acknowledges there is a problem and wants to address it. Isn't that better than most?

And is this any different than all these cases of corporate income inequality that we hear about, where the CEO makes 300 times as much as the typical worker? Actually it is different because in most of those cases, the CEO didn't create the business out of thin air with his hands and skills.  Those CEO's deserve our ire a lot more than David Chang does.

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Chang is probably worth many millions of dollars, but he's paying his line cooks $12.50 an hour in New York City - give me a break with the empty rhetoric and do something about it.

Is he paying less than the going rate for line cooks in nyc? for that matter, do the places you love in dc pay their line cooks substantially more than the going rate for line cooks in dc? unless the answer to either q is yes, i'm not sure why you're angry with him.

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I'm surprised there's so much Chang-hate going on.

Let's get one thing straight right now: There *is* no Chang hate going on - I'm commenting on that Q&A, and *only* on that Q&A ... in particular, that one comment.

David Chang and I have many common friends, and everyone I've talked to who has voiced an opinion about him, has never said an unkind word.

Contrary to ugly rumor, whenever I see José Andrés, we shake each other's hand and chat cordially - I like the man.

In response to your question, no, it isn't better than most - who *doesn't* acknowledge there's a problem right now?  What, exactly, is he waiting for in order to pay his line cooks more? Is he waiting to become one of the most powerful, famous restaurateurs in America? Is he waiting to become a multi-millionaire?

Sorry, but I'm not swayed by celebrity - never have been, never will be. I call things like I see them - always have, always will.

Walking the walk, nearly five years ago: post-2-0-15430900-1446593944_thumb.jpg

Is he paying less than the going rate for line cooks in nyc? for that matter, do the places you love in dc pay their line cooks substantially more than the going rate for line cooks in dc? unless the answer to either q is yes, i'm not sure why you're angry with him. 

I'm going to add one more thing here, and then my next post will be about the food at Momofuku CCDC. Not long after Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in 2004, I was in New York, and on the advice of a trusted friend who lives there, arrived 15 minutes before this increasingly popular, new restaurant opened - I think it was 10:45 AM, (but it might have been 11:45 - I can't remember if it opened at 11 or 12).

I was the only person there, and I wasn't even sure I was in the right place, because I was standing around for ten minutes by myself - then, at around 10:55, people started arriving, and perhaps ten people were there by the time they opened their doors several minutes later. I was the first person in the restaurant, and took the seat at the end of the bar, furthest away from the entrance - it was a perfect seat to view everything that was going on.

I'm not big on day drinking, but when I saw a half-bottle of Côes-du-Rhone at a very attractive price, I went for it. I got whatever they called the house-special ramen at the time - it was pork-neck ramen with an egg in it; I no longer remember the style of broth. What I do remember, however, is being absolutely blown away by this incredible dining experience, and I emerged from the restaurant about an hour later, positively beaming. I told every restaurant friend and every restaurant critic I knew about this amazing new place called Momofuku Noodle Bar, and kept telling people for weeks. To this day, in my mind, it was the greatest bowl of ramen I've ever eaten - whether or not that's true can never be known, because my judgment has been clouded by the passage of time, and because this was my first exposure to serious ramen. If I had one word to describe my experience, it would be "revelatory," and looking back, it's pretty safe to say that Momofuku Noodle Bar was the right restaurant at the right time.

The Washingtonian article quotes David Chang as saying he was his only employee at first, and it would not surprise me one bit if he was working the line that day (it was his only restaurant, and I don't think the New York Times or any other publication of consequence had yet reviewed them, so he was most likely still in opening mode). I'm also making an assumption that he worked the line - I don't know for a fact that he ever did, but I'm guessing yes.

In closing, I think it's pretty safe to say that I was running around like an excited child, raving about this tiny little pillbox called "Momofuku Noodle Bar" before anyone posting on this thread had ever heard of the name "David Chang." Although I can't prove it, I think it's a reasonably good bet that I emailed Tom Sietsema and Todd Kliman that very day, in one of my over-enthusiastic fits - this last sentence is pure speculation on my part, as I have no memory of actually doing this, but given the timing, it sounds exactly like something I would have done.

David Chang has no practical use for me right now any more than José Andrés does. However, back then he did, and I was his biggest cheerleader at a time when he genuinely benefitted from having cheerleaders in positions of influence.

I congratulate him on his explosive success, and I'll post again *after* I go to the restaurant, which I suspect will be excellent.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Went last night. Quick review, it's great, and my friend and I loved it. Pork buns>shrimp buns>brisket buns, but all three were great. The pork buns always remind me of the first time I ever ate at Momofuku Noodle Bar, less than a year after they opened. They're ridiculously good. The Brussels sprouts were fine, but nothing special. The pork and kimchi stew was fantastic.

We had a reservation, and even so the entrance is a bit of a mess, which is something I'm sure they'll sort out soon. Lots of people milling around (guests), and several hosts not really sure what to do. But once at our table the service was great throughout. I'll definitely be back.

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Had two buddies in town from South Dakota who wanted to try it, so back to Momofuku again last night. Ate a lot of the same stuff, but the new fried chicken and fried catfish are both outstanding. They also must've heard the rumblings about drinks, as we saw an $8 glass of wine, some $9-10 cocktails, and two new beers, one at $6 and one at $7. Between the four of us, we had three beers, one glass of wine, pork jerky, spicy cucumbers, pork buns, brisket buns, ramen, chilled spicy noodles, scallion noodles, the catfish, and the fried brussels sprouts - total bill was $112 before tip. $29 a person, and we were all stuffed. That's absurd. One of the better values in DC, which I didn't anticipate.

Totally agree with Mark on the entrance / host stand. The problem is that you can't tell them what time you want to eat and just leave your number for a text...once your whole party is there, you're either seated or asked to wait in the entrance area until a table is available; if people could go grab a drink or something, it would really help with keeping the flow of people moving, rather than having everyone waiting milling around in a confined space. Regardless, it worked out - host staff was awesome, as always. Good stuff.

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