Background: If you don't know about David Chang and his Momofuku empire, then I'm sorry because you haven't been living your life. Get started by reading this Wikipedia article and then read this interview on Food and Wine and then read this article on Time Magazine and that should give you an idea of how influential, awesome, and, dare I say, sexy Mr. Chang is. Fun Fact: Charlotte Chef Shortino and his team went to Noodle Bar to get ideas for Futo Buta.
But enough about him, let's talk about us. Back when half of scallionpancake (Jason) was living in New York I stumbled on Noodle Bar in the East Village. Coming from Fort Mill, SC, where the closest thing to real Asian food was one Panda Express on South Boulevard, I had never experienced anything like what Noodle Bar offered. It wasn't the noodles --which are out of this world, but it was the pork buns that changed my life. I had never tasted pork belly before (remember, this is circa 2008), with its melt in your mouth goodness, combined with the Momofuku flavors and the soft-as-a-baby's-bottom bun. This was my "finding Jesus" moment of food culture.
Order This: Really you can't go wrong with anything you order at Noodle Bar. The best thing to do is go with a few friends and order a bunch of things off the menu. But the BEST BEST thing to do is to get a reservation for the special fried chicken dinner for 4 to 8 of your best friends. You can get the fried chicken either American or Korean style. Get Korean style and put on your stretchy pants! If you can't do this here are a few of my other favorite things to order:
Buns: The pork bun is the greatest thing you'll probably ever put in your mouth (see "Jesus Moment" above), but all of their buns are fantastic. They rotate the buns a lot, but some of my favorites are the Brisket and the Egg/Bacon one, which is like the best McMuffin you've ever had.
Bowls: If it's your first time definitely go for the classic Momofuku Ramen pictured above. My second favorite is the Chilled Spicy Noodles with the Sichuan Chicken Sausage.
Dessert: Momofuku has their own dessert store called Milk Bar which is two blocks away. Noodle Bar serves a limited amount of the desserts at the restaurant, but I would recommend walking over to Milk Bar and getting either the Cereal Milk soft serve ice cream or the birthday cake truffles. Again, you can't go wrong with anything at Milk Bar, but trust me the cereal milk soft serve and the birthday cake truffles are the best and will change your life for the better.
Drink: Sake, Sake, Sake! They have two specially made Momofuku Sakes which are great sharing drinks. They also always have two alcoholic slushies on rotation which are always delicious. My favorite is an alcoholic sweet tea slushie.
Atmosphere: I used to always take visitors to NYC here because it's has a quintessential energetic New York vibe. The decor is clean and modern, and the seating ranges from booths, to bar seating, to a community table.
New York Hipster Asian Hospitality: There is definitely a "we make good shit here so don't ask us for too much" attitude from the servers, but, hey--they make good shit, so don't be so needy, k?
Frankie's Notes: To get the feel of Jason moving from Ft. Mill to New York, just play the Green Acres theme song in reverse; Ordering the fried chicken for 4-8 people and showing up as a single diner is a straight baller move; Scallionpancake has most of its "Jesus moments" surrounding food and dining; Or should we say "Moses moments?"; Being an adult is hard; alcoholic slushies ease that pain.
Rating: 5 out of 5
171 1st Avenue
Between 10th & 11th Street
New York, New York 10003
Monday-Friday 12-4:30 & 5:30-11 pm
Saturday-Sunday 12-4 pm & 5:30-1 am