163 1st Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets
about $80 for two, with two drinks, with tip
Updated, 2007: Momofuku has moved two stores down to make room for the third restaurant in their family, Momofuku Ko
Momofuku, which means “lucky peach,” is a nicely-designed noodlebar with mostly Japanese and Korean-influenced dishes plus a touch of Chinese. It reminded me of London’s Wagamama, which means “naughty child” in Nihongo, famous for their inexpensive and quick fast food as for their interior’s design.
We shared a plate of baby bok choy, flash-fried in hot oil, garlic and chilis–a good start to whet the appetite. Since it was almost a hundred degrees out, I picked the Momofuku somen with chilled noodles and dipping broth. My bowl came with mushrooms and very yummy shredded Berkshire pork which reminded me of leftover Filipino lechon, or roast pork. It’s a huge serving and more than enough for my hungry self. My companion opted for the pork neck ramen with neck meat and poached egg. It was also delicious. Both were served with scallions and menma, or bamboo shoots.
Even if it looks like a ramenya, a place that sells ramen in Japan, any new visitor would be glad to know that it just isn’t that. Dishes change seasonally, just like David Chang, owner and chef, learned at Craft. The noodles are not soggy and they have the right firmness and tenderness. There are buns, kimchi chigae, or fermented vegetables in soybean paste soup, and Sichuan-spiced crawfish in the menu.
I normally cook the baby bok choy at home when they are in season, so I thought the $8 price was pretty steep. Our tall Hefeweizens were also $10 apiece. In fact, everything is priced twice as much as its counterparts along St. Marks. Alas, this is New York City and this is the lower east side.