Momofuku Noodle Bar
Launched in 2004, the first restaurant in David Chang's empire is a destination for its pork bao, noodles and ramen—and the name Momofuku ("lucky peach" in Japanese) is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. But the real reason to go is the multicultural fried chicken extravaganza prepared for up to eight people. It combines two whole chickens, one prepared southern style and the other Korean style, with mu shu pancakes, lettuce, sauces and vegetables for do-it-yourself snack wraps that put the Golden Arches to shame. Reservations are only accepted for the fried chicken dinner and only online.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
If you adhere to the adage "Go big or go home," you'll love the ssäm (“enclosed” or “wrapped” Korean) that feature whole pork shoulders for up to ten diners and whole rotisserie ducks for up to six. The Niman Ranch shoulder is cured overnight, then slow roasted for six to eight hours with a brown sugar and kosher salt rub. It's served with a dozen oysters and two bowls each of white rice, lettuce, Korean barbecue sauce, kimchi and ginger scallion sauce. Use these ingredients to make your own wraps. For a bird of a different feather, try Crescent Farms duck—stuffed with both pork and duck sausage under the skin before being slow roasted over a rotisserie—served with chive pancakes, lettuce, hoisin, duck scallion sauce, crispy shallots and two seasonal sides. The bar at Momofuku Ssäm Bar goes by the name Booker and Dax. Here, boasts the website, “the approach to rethinking cocktails is considered, deliberate, and precision-oriented.”
This one (“son of”) is tasting menu only, and even at $175, with a beverage pairing nearly that much, it's still one of the toughest reservations in town. Expect more than a dozen courses, with unique Japanese ingredients, varying upon the season and what's available at the market. The textures are even more dazzling than the flavors. But this is more than dinner, it's dinner and a show: the seats around the open kitchen showcase chefs who "revere both tradition and innovation." Their two Michelin stars are a testament to success on both fronts.
Book the private dining room to arrange a customizable menu, with both small plates and family style dishes, for up to 14 guests. But why stop there? They'll let you buy out the entire restaurant for a night to obtain an even more private experience.
Momofuku Milk Bar
Who doesn't like dairy-based desserts with breakfast cereal and cookies with unusual ingredients and even more unusual names? A handful of bakeries in Manhattan and Brooklyn feature the desserts of Christina Tosi, who trained at the French Culinary Institute and did stints at Bouley and WD~50 before joining Chang. It doesn't hurt that the coffee is by Stumptown, shipped in from Portland OR. In 2011 Milk Bar spawned a cookbook allowing you to make the iconic "compost cookie" and other treats in the comfort of your own home.
Located in the basement of Momofuku Milk Bar at the Chambers Hotel, this offshoot—meaning "mother peach"—started with a Vietnamese-French focus before swinging the pendulum toward Chang’s takes on American comfort food classics. It's a triple threat restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Morning options keep to the trite with oatmeal, granola, fruit, baked goods and omelets, but the bacon and smoked salmon are worth a look. Lunch and dinner are even more pork-heavy, with pork buns, a double pork chop, kimchee with jowl bacon, a Sichuan pork flatbread and Benton’s bacon in a wedge salad.
Fuku and Fuku+
The Fuku space originally occupied by the now-relocated Ko is small and cramped, better for for takeout than stand-up eating. Don't expect a seat, because there aren't any. But do expect a wait, because their chicken sandwich is the most analyzed, discussed and generally obsessed-over New York Coty food since the cronut. The fried chicken sandwich draws double-takes--and raves--because the bumpy, crunchy, all-thigh behemoth protrudes from the fluffy Martin's potato bun to offer juicy, dark meat whose aggressive seasoning brings spiciness along with exhilarating saltiness. The Koreano version comes with spicy daikon, but don't forget to add some (table side?) Ssäm sauce to further elevate the heat.
An offshoot called Fuku+ takes over the lounge space at Má Pêche, offering a larger footprint and a larger menu that also includes “fuku bites” and “fuku fingers,” pickled mussels, Sichuan pork flatbread and a stuffed cheese burger that’s Chang’s take on the Juicy Lucy. It’s a test kitchen of sorts that will ultimately export commercially successful items to the flagship.
Canada's largest city is home to a one-stop-shopping approach to Momofuku, with different establishments scattered among three floors. On the ground level is Momofuku Noodle Bar, leaning on ramen, noodles and pork buns just like its Manhattan counterpart. Up one flight is Nikai, a bar and lounge with an extensive selection of beer, wine, cocktails and sake. The third floor houses two entities: Daishō, geared to shared meals and bo ssäm (similar to NYC's Ssäm Bar), and Shōtō, which offers a 10-course tasting menu (similar to Momofuku Ko) driven by seasonality.