Saturday, April 14, 2007

Momofuku Ssam Bar and Il Laboratorio del Gelato (Neither Brooklyn nor Mexican Madness)

When I was a wee Krys, I spent a lot of time in Arizona, visiting family. The one Phoenix restaurant that sticks in my head and in my heart was called Panda Bandito. I remember it being a hole-in-the wall joint, and it fused crappy Americanized Chinese food with crappy Americanized Mexican food. I've spent the rest of my life trying to recreate Orange Chicken Burritos.

Momofuku Ssam Bar is David Chang's follow-up to his wildly popular noodle bar. We all know that I love burritos and I love pork, so I really wanted to try the ssam, his korean wrap, but found that it's only available for lunch. Apparently the dinner menu is great, but I had my heart set on asian burritos. So, today's lunch was decided: Ssam I am.

ssam-exterior

There isn't really signage outside, but my sixth burrito sense led me inside. I didn't have to look at the menu to know that I what I wanted, so I marched up to the back counter and ordered The Original Momofuku Ssam. They have several build-your-own options, but the original is made of a flour pancake, rice, berkshire pork, onions, edamame, picked shiitake, and red kimchi puree. I think they also may have put a little hoisin on there, spread on as a base for the rice. I also watched the formation of the steamed buns, which I stupidly did not order. They looked damn good.

original-ssam

More pork! I really need to be stopped. I calculated that it's only April, and I've probably consumed two full pigs so far. I keep trying to justify that fact in my head, but I should probably just accept my addiction. Anyhoo, this pork was so delicious and tender and porky. The edamame added a great crunch, and the kimchi and pickled shiitake added a nice salty vinegary flavor. I HATE mushrooms, but I dug the pickled shiitake. I probably wouldn't eat it on its own, but in the ssam, it was perfect.

I needed to walk the pork off, so I headed down to the lower east side to eye the new Whole Foods. While I was in the area, and it being a sunny day, I decided that I needed more fat in my body and headed over to Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Unfortunately, they didn't have their more unusual flavors available (I was craving olive oil gelato), so I got a small with a scoop of maple-walnut and a scoop of espresso.

gelato

Mmmm, those flavors went well together. So refreshing after the pork. This is why it's dangerous for me to go to Manhattan on the weekends.

3 comments:

thx1138 said...

I think you are referring to Chino Bandito in Scottsdale, AZ. I love that place.

krys said...

CHINO BANDIDO!!! Wow, I am so relieved that I didn't make that place up.

I mistook it for Panda Bandito because of the awesome mascot: http://www.chinobandido.com/

Wow.

krys said...
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