You say, Let me take you out, and we’re at Momofuku Noodle Bar at Columbus Circle. It opened fairly recently, and it’s on the third floor, on the other side of Bouchon, and, as we’re walking towards the entrance, I notice Bāng Bar, the other recent Momofuku Restaurant Group opening, a lunch place that’s a riff on bbang. I do that thing where we’re walking, and my arm is tucked into your elbow, but, then, I stop walking abruptly, and my hand slides down your arm until it catches on your hand, and you’re jerked to a stop.
Yeah? you say, not even startled to be jerked to a stop anymore.
I didn’t know Bāng Bar was here! I thought it was in Williamsburg for some reason. Have you had?
If I had, it would’ve been with you, you say, and I smile at that as we resume walking, enter the loudness that is Momofuku Noodle Bar.
The noodles here are apparently made of buckwheat, I say as we’re seated, taking off our coats and draping them over the backs of our stools. And all the cooks on this line are men.
You don’t say anything, do that thing with your eyebrows instead that says, But, of course they are, and we don’t need to say it, that it’s 20-fucking-19, even majority-male lines aren’t a good look. I wonder, sometimes, if I’m a part of the problem, too, if I should be actively only supporting restaurants that are more equal and diverse in their hiring, and, typically, I do — we do — we think about things like this — but I like Momofuku — I like what David Chang has been doing with his restaurants and how he’s been bringing Asian food to the mainstream not in a traditional way but by putting his own spin on it.
I just really like how he thinks about food and food culture, and I still really miss Lucky Peach.
We start with the Japanese egg sandwich, and our server tells us we’re the second order of the Japanese egg sandwich the entire night. Most people get the buns, but we get the egg sandwich because I’m curious, because I love eggs, because I’m not one to say no to Japanese egg salad between two slices of soft milk bread, crusts cut off. We like the slight tang, the spice added by cayenne powder, and you laugh as I remove the cucumbers, making sure to get any egg bits with a pair of chopsticks.
You get the ginger scallion noodles, and I get the roast pork ramen, and I’m a little nervous, wondering how these new buckwheat noodles will hold up. My favorite thing about Momofuku ramen in general are their noodles because they actually make their noodles in-house instead of sourcing them from elsewhere, as pretty much all other ramen shops are wont to do. Momofuku broth is often too salty for me, though, so the broth can be hit or miss, but the noodles — the noodles! The noodles are always perfectly cooked, too, with just enough chew and just enough body, the perfect waviness and thickness, really, for ramen.
My best friend thinks it’s a little weird, my love for Momofuku ramen despite the salty broth, because shouldn’t broth be first when it comes to judging a bowl of ramen? I can dilute the broth, though, and often do, pouring water into my bowl, not caring what anyone around me might think — and I end up doing the same tonight because the broth is good, not heavy, not greasy, but still too salty for me. You laugh as I pour water into my bowl, say, It’s a good thing they don’t give ice in their water, reaching over with your spoon to taste. Yeah, it’s better less salty.
It’s not just a Momofuku thing! I say. Most ramen broth is too salty for me.
A lot of food is too salty for you — you have a softer palate, nothing wrong with it. These new buckwheat noodles are good.
When we’re done, noodles slurped and bowls emptied, the server asks if we want dessert. She says there’s a hozon soft serve and a cinnamon bing that’s fried and served with a side of ricotta-something. I first tried hozon at Majordomo last January and liked it, and I’m intrigued by how it’ll taste as a soft serve, so I poke you, and you laugh, say, I know, I know. You always need ice cream after ramen — can we get the hozon soft serve? Just one should be enough ...