When visiting New York City, I find it terribly difficult to narrow down and select a handful of restaurants to dine at. There is simply too much choice! The last two times we've been there we had less than three days in the city so it's easy to do the math on how many lunch and dinner reservations you can make. The time before last, I made an amateur mistake and gorged myself during dinner at Morini, my favourite restaurant. I was loving every morsel and greedily decided to finish my already massive meal with dessert AND a latte. The next morning I couldn't even fathom eating breakfast. I had a proper food hangover. Even worse, I didn't want to eat lunch and I was barely hungry enough to eat dinner at Meza Grill when the time rolled around. I wasted nearly 3 meals in NYC thanks to my gluttony at Morini.
When we went to NYC this past September, I was acutely aware of my tendency to overdo it so I tried to employ some self restraint. Leading up to a dinner reserved at Mario Batali's Lupa, I knew it was essential to eat light for lunch. Marc had a strong hankering for noodles so we decided to try getting into momofuku noodle bar. We were there just early enough to get a seat at the bar before a rush of people filled up the entrance. Their pork buns are legendary so I knew it wasn't even an option not to order one of those. For my main, I selected the momofoku ramen bowl because is there really any resisting a soup with pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg on top?
When we got to ordering, the waiter suggested that we share a large bowl of ramen between us. Now, for the record, I don't like sharing food. I'll share just about anything but I LOATH sharing food. If you know me, you probably know this already - or I was trying to be VERY polite. I cringe when I hear people say 'Hey guys, how about we all share entrees together instead of ordering your own?!'. I know people will be offended by this but I really don't see why, I'm not pushing anything on you and yet I often feel bullied into sharing when I don't want to. In the past I have been somewhat of a picky eater, so the situation always ends up the same. Inevitably 5 plates end up on the table, only one of which I actually want to (or can) eat which for some reason, everyone else wants to eat too. I end up staring at some nasty shrimp, foie gras, clam or offal plate that I want nothing to do with. Paying for a bunch of food I don''t eat and leaving hungry makes for a cranky Heather. Okay, okay, you get the point, I don't do sharing. But when the waiter suggested it almost out of nowhere, since we hadn't said we wanted to eat light, we thought there must be something to his rationale. Also, we were afraid to repeat the food hangover of our last visit, so we agreed.
The pork bun was good but I wanted it to be awesome. It had all the right flavours and textures, pork, hoisin, scallion, cucumber. You could just taste the umami (hahaha, well maybe YOU could, but since I think umami as imaginary as a unicorn, I'll go with salty). My only gripe was that my pork lacked the grilled quality that I noticed on everyone else's plates around me. Mine was blubbery and white, which I didn't find very appetizing. Bummer.I'll chalk it up to a food quality issue since Marc's pork bun looked way better than mine.When the soup showed up, I couldn't help thinking 'you got to be kidding me'! It was smaller than the average Vietnamese Pho soup - and now we had to s-h-a-r-e? Noooooo! To make matters worse, it was so delicious. Pork broth is just...wow. We both played nice, but I'm sure we were both hoping the other person would have to go to the bathroom or something so one of us could attack the soup solo.
I finished my meal still hungry. Between the blubbery bun, too small soup, really bad house wine and line up behind us, I can't say I loved the experience (sorry to the Chang fanboys out there).At least we had no risk of overeating but that's hardly a flattering advertisement. Despite my stingy opinion of the place, I would go back. I'd avoid the wine and be sure to have a bowl of pork ramen all to myself.