When momofuku CCDC finally debuted this winter, I knew it would take some time for the heat to die and long lines to disappear. It’s been about a full month and I found myself wanting a bowl of ramen on a not-so-hot December day.
Take note: I found myself living in New York and naturally stumbled upon David Chang‘s business. I lived a few blocks from a Milk Bar (what line?) and discovered my favorite soft serve was Blueberry Miso mixed with the classic Cereal Milk, topped with crunchy corn flakes. After I tasted this concoction, I decided to try all of his restaurants in the city. I made my way to all, except Ssam, and never felt completely impressed. The noodles at the noodle bar tasted soggy and the bowl was overly filling to the point where I finished only half the serving.má pêche landed a solid (and expensive) experience with its dim sum-style serving and variety of dishes. Needless to say, I was surprised the District lined up for the Milk Bar and the restaurant filled with endless reservations.
With Christmas in the air, a huge lighted tree sits right outside the restaurant’s large glass windows sharing holiday cheer while you enjoy Asian cuisine. momofuku CCDC embodies a contemporary, Brooklyn-esque space with plenty of sunshine to flood the entire room. The light-wooded tables come complete with the brand’s famed Ssam sauce, chopsticks, napkins and water glasses.
If you sit in the on a crowded evening, you escape the loud crowds initially seen when entering the restaurant. Large, oddly shaped murals fill what would be bare white walls, adding an artistic touch.
The restaurant strategically serves more than just a cozy ramen bowl; it also creates fried chicken and a variety of other entrees that will keep you coming back to try them all. The cocktail menu offers Japanese beer, Asian-inspired cocktails, wine from a box and more!
A appetizer necessity: bao. Buns come in a variety: shitake, pork, shrimp and brisket. Try them all! While clearly overpriced, the dish comes in a steamed, bamboo plate with only two portions. We tried the pork buns and it didn’t disappoint (it better not have since it cost $6 a piece). Two slivers of cucumbers lined the side with a duck (the dark kind) sauce. Inside: moist, tender pork belly cooked to perfection alongside strands of fresh scallion. When you bite into this glory, you’re amazed at both the quality and texture.
Shortly after our bowls of winter arrived. Above is the beef noodle soup and below is the momofuku ramen.
The beef noodle tasted somewhat sour than the traditional mea; (classic American take). Large pieces of bok choy floated to the top, while pieces of meat swam for visual pleasing.
The ramen’s noodle came out near-perfection with a nice crunch and not-so-soggy texture. The braised pork shoulder seemed last-minute placed into the bowl since it didn’t have the same kinds of flavors the dish embodied. The two pieces of pork belly also felt externally placed for purpose. In the center, a delicious poached egg awaited to be poked and run into the rest of the bowl. Overall, the bowl didn’t exceed expectations for its $17 worth and I would rather venture to ippudo (for the same price) or local DAIKAYA.
After a filling meal, we opted for the highly anticipated dessert. I found myself craving the classic twist, which was composed of crack pie twisted with cereal milk and topped with candy-crusted corn flakes. The combination of the two tasted great with a not-to-sweet, not-to-bland flavor. The saltiness of the crunch cereal added a bit of unexpected speciality.
The crack pie came packaged and ready to ship. After three minutes of unwrapping, we finally tasted the famed treat. The top felt soft, but after digging to split into pieces, the crust created a barrier that we ended up individually biting into to same time.
While momofuku offers a great first-date option, it’s an “experience” to venture in the District. Notable: Chef David Chang is onsite overseeing all aspects of the restaurant, but won’t dare take a pictures with customers. Even after asking several waiter (one who stated “I cannot answer if David can take a picture with you!” eek, scary!) it seems that possibly all the fame went to the chef’s head or he can’t even take a second for a bit of publicity / appreciation for a long-time momofuku lover.
At least I got I high-five from him.
Momofuku CCDC is located on 1090 I St NW. Try and make a reservation, but the restaurant is made for walk-ins.