As very big fans of Asian food, we asked our host where were the best place around East Village to eat ramen noodles. His answer was straight "Momofuku, it's just 2 blocks away, you will see it's always busy".
We went there on Black Friday evening, hoping people would either still be out of town because of Thanksgiving or still killing each others in Macy's for the Black Friday. This was a vain, the place was packed. Momofuku do not take any reservation that for we gave our name, came back after an hour and waited 30 more minutes inside to get seated.
Momofuku was created by an American-Korean chef David Chang, but surprisingly for an Asian restaurant the staff was 100% western including the kitchen. The concept of the place is mostly that it remains a tiny space and the kitchen is open so that you can see what's happening in the kitchen and even ask the guys "hey, what's that?!".
We were seated on the bar just facing the kitchen team. This is mostly the main interest of the place: a hard working team always in a rush, doing the job as well as they can. It's kind of a well organized ballet. These guys make the show and they make you feel that they are proud what they are doing and just there in the front of live audience they put up a every evening show of their cooking skills.
How about the food?
Well we went for:
momofuku ramen – pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg
and ginger scallion noodles – pickled shiitakes, cucumber, cabbage
Unfortunately for non meat eater there are not any real ramen option available so the ginger scallion noodles were served without broth. The food is definitely good, no doubt on that, but to be honest while eating it you realize that you are not eating asian food, but american food. The Momofuku ramen are really tasty, the meat is just melting in your mouth and the poached egg is a very good idea.
Somehow the place deserve it's fame (there is even a Momofuku cooking books). It's nice and cosy, even if it seems to be always very busy and you need to be patient to get a table. Keep in mind that the main interest of the place is actually the place itself and the shows it offers. If you were looking for a true Asian food experience, then you should head to Chinatown or Korea Town.