Megnut

New menu items at Ssäm Bar

Jason and I popped into Momofuku Ssäm Bar last night for an early dinner. We hadn't been in a few weeks, and it turns out during our time away, the menu's been updated with lots of new items and some old stand-byes received new treatment. My favorite sea scallops are now served with the crunchy seaweed that usually accompanies the cured hamachi, and are layered over a lemon puree and accompanied by pickled cherries. We had local sugar snap peas sprinkled with ham bits and softened onions, floating in a ham broth. Jason pointed out it was a nice play on the flavors of split pea soup, delicious!

On the meat side of the menu, we tried roasted lamb belly from Four Story Hill Farm, PA on a bed of wilted swiss chard. When our server placed it in front of us, I had a whiff of doughnuts. Doughnuts? Closer sniffing revealed it to be a cinnamony smell, maybe the lamb had a bit of cinnamon rub? Regardless, it was moist and sweet, with a thick layer of fat. No one does belly and fat like the Chang crew! We also ordered a Chicken Ballontine, which was beautifully executed and each bite revealed the essence of chicken. It was nice to see such a traditional preparation on the menu, and so well done.

Our final new menu item was the Crispy Pig's Head, also from Four Story Hill Farm. Oh my! If it weren't for a staff recommendation from our man Cory, I would have been too scared to try this, but it was amazing. Deep fried, it arrived looking like a fish stick, only larger. But a single bite revealed a creamy, gelatinous interior melting with tender pork meat and, you guessed it, more fat! The accompanying spicy mustard sauce and lettuce cleansed just the right amount of grease from the tongue, leaving me sighing with delight after each bite.

For dessert we had strawberry shortcake with local berries and fresh whipped cream. The shortcakes were perfect: crumbly without being dry, and had a nice sweetness to them. The strawberries were left whole, and weren't doused in sugar like in many places, so the sweet of the dessert actually came more from the shortcake, and the berries and cream countered it a bit. This morning I was thinking about stopping in again tonight, just for dessert!

I love Ssäm Bar, but with any place you frequent, you can sometimes tire of even the best food. It was so exciting to see all the new stuff on the menu and realize it's better than ever over there. Now the only question is when will my arteries be able stand a return trip!

There are 7 responses

I believe that the chicken in the Chicken Ballontine is also milk-fed chicken. Tasty.

I liked both the lamb belly and the pig's head but thought they weren't quite as delicious as their other standards (steamed buns, etc.)

Also newish on the menu is a spicy squid salad, fried baby artichokes, and pork spareribs with sunchokes, all highly recommended by me. Mmmm. I didn't know I liked sunchokes until David Chang showed me the way.

Mmm, I love sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes though not any relation to artichokes; artichokes are perennial thistles, sunchokes are tubers)! I like the baby artichokes, had those during our last visit. Haven't tried the spicy squid though I was tempted last night.

We were there for dinner last night, earlyish, as well. My favorites were the tripe, which tasted a whole lot like a more fabulous version of my mom's barbecue beef sandwiches, and the steamed pork buns. I also really loved the artichokes and the spare ribs with the sunchoke salad.

One thing about Ssam Bar, though: they must have the highest staff:customer ratio in the city. I think I counted two customers for every one staffer. That seems insane to me.

So, the dinner menu at this place is totally different from the lunch menu? I stopped in for lunch the other day, and the menu seemed to mostly have, not surprisingly, ssäm on it. It was quite tasty, but it was no pig's head.

We'd just tried all these items last week (we had the last pig's head of the night -- I think as they were getting started, they were shorter on supply of the dishes; they'd wanted baby pigs but got adults) and I have to agree with your raves.

Cory's probably one of Ssam's biggest assets -- I would normally be worried about Chang doing a restaurant in Vegas or whatever, if it were any other place, but it kind of doesn't matter with the staff there as good as they are.

Thanks for the update. I stopped in when it first opened and look forward to checking out the new items on the menu.

Apparently they don't have regular access to pigs' heads, so the item isn't always on the menu. When they do get them, it's a ton of work to prepare the dish of course, but worth it. Hopefully they can procure a steady supply, at least until I burn out on it! :)

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