BlogSoop

a summer dining guide featuring new york city bloggers

New York City Summer 2007

contents
New York City Restaurants Reviewed by Food Bloggers
G Grom Gelato
Sa Salli Vates p p. 11

L Landmarc (TWC)
T The Wandering Eater p p. 9
Queens

H Hill Country
G GastroChic p p. 10

Shake Shack
Off The Broiler p. 8

V Via Emilia
N NYC Nosh p p. 6
Brooklyn

Momofuku Ssam Bar
The Girl Who Ate Everything p. 12

plus...

Soop du Jour
The Hungry Cabbie takes the ride of his life p. 4
Restaurant Reviews by Food Bloggers - www.blogsoop.com

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The Hungry Cabbie
famoustfatdave.com/blog
A little more than one year ago, I took a fare that seems to have damaged my diet irreparably. I didn’t take him far, and he was certainly not the type of person I would normally want to emulate. But since he rode in my cab, I can’t quite shake his influence. I picked him up on 8th Street and 5th Avenue in the middle of day. He told me he was heading to the Cherry Street Projects deep into the Lower East Side. He spoke very quickly, and before we covered a long block, I knew half his life story. He’d just returned from L.A. where he’d spent the bulk of the last decade “making it big,” although he retained his thick New York accent. He was going back home to visit with his family who he’d barely seen since he’d left. Rocking the leather jacket, the tall black boots, and long Andre-from-Real-WorldOne hair, I figured he was some kind of Sunset Strip thrasher. And he confirmed my suspicions by telling me the name of his band by the next block. later, but I ignored him. He didn’t seem to mind. As we headed down Bowery just a few blocks from his parents’ project, he pleaded with me to change course and take a right onto Kenmare. “Why?” I demanded, thinking he was having another episode with a vaguely familiar figure on the street. “No, no dude. I need a drink,” he said firmly. “Why not stop at a deli on Bowery or Cherry Street, rather than go out of the way?” I asked. “Because this deli sells Yoohoo in cans,” he responded, as though that was reason enough. He assured me he’d make it worth my while, so I took the right and waited outside while he ran in. Sure enough, out he came with an ice cold six pack of Yoohoo dangling from his finger. While he knocked back what appeared to be an entire can in one gulp, I simply said, “Yoohoo, huh,” as I eyed him in the rear view mirror.

You gotta

shake it

Soop du Jour

It says right there on the can.

dude. SHAKE IT.

I couldn’t tell if he was on coke or he just had the sort of personality that makes a guy seem like he’s on coke all the time. He acted as though he was genuinely excited to tell me everything that was going on in his life. And I was listening intently until he stopped mid-sentence to shout at the top of his lounges, “STOP!!! STOP THE CAR!!! STOP STOP STOP STOP.” I slammed on the breaks, thinking something was terribly wrong either inside or just outside of the cab. Even after we came to a halt, I could hear him saying, “stop stop stop stop stop” under his breath, and I saw him staring hard at someone on the sidewalk. “WHAT!?!?” I asked him. “Oh. . . Oh, never mind dude, never mind. I just thought that chick right there was the hooker I was with last night. I wanted to stop and say ‘hi.’. . . But it isn’t. . . Let’s roll.” “Alllllllll right,” I responded as I turned my head back toward the road in front of us. Now I was pretty sure he was on coke. “I promise I won’t do that again,” he told me. He did do something similar ten minutes

SHAKE IT!

That’s all it took for him to go OFF about Yoohoo. He sounded like a spokesman for the company, though he assured me that he wasn’t. “It’s so frosty and delicious. It’s so cold and refreshing. And you gotta get the can. YOU GOTTA. Don’t mess with the bottles or the cartons. Cans keep Yoohoo the coldest. And Yoohoo is best when it’s at its coldest. When’s the last time you had a Yoohoo?” he asked, as he cracked open his second can. It’d been a while. I must have been a kid. “Long time,” I said. Before I knew it, he’d pushed an icy can through the window in the divider and let it drop to the seat below. “Taste it again for the first time,” he said, eyes wide with authentic excitement. The moment I stopped at the light and picked up the can, he dropped another one down to the seat. “You’re gonna love it so much you’ll want two,” he assured me. I cracked it open and put it too my lips. “NOOOOO,” he screamed, as though he was Stephen Colbert and I was Helen Thomas. I didn’t say a word. I just

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lowered the can from my lips slowly and stared at him in the mirror. “You gotta shake dude. SHAKE IT. It says right there on the can. SHAKE IIIIT. Give that can back to me, because you can’t shake it right now that it’s open. Shake your other one up.” I did his bidding. I shook it up hard, popped the top, and watched the milky beverage foam up around the lip. Some distant childhood memories trickled back, but nothing too nostalgic. I knew I’d had Yoohoo before. Then I tasted it. AMAZING. PHENOMENAL. It was everything I love about milk, sugar, and cold beverages combined. It seemed to quench my thirst, though I know dairy products don’t do that. However, Yoohoo is so chemically it’s barely a dairy product anymore. It really did hit the spot. As far as I was concerned, that Yoohoo was the perfect drink at that moment. I’ve gone on Gatorade kicks, I’ve built a 365 can cokamid out of coke cans I binged on, and I’ve sucked on ice cubes all my life. But when that Yoohoo passed my lips, it was the perfect beverage. “Am I right or am I right?” my fare asked as he gathered his things to get out of the cab. “You’re right,” I said, looking at my empty can. He gave me a sizeable tip, more than necessary. But what I loved most about this guy was that before he left, he pushed one last can of Yoohoo through the divider. Now, he’d given me half of his six pack. He really wanted me to have TWO cans of Yoohoo. I downed that one too, but I assumed I wouldn’t really get into the habit of drinking Yoohoo. Still, I wasn’t surprised when, a couple days later, I saw a can of Yoohoo at the deli and couldn’t resist buying it. I wondered if that guy really was a spokesman for Yoohoo, because he’d done a good job selling me. But I ‘m pretty sure he just wanted me to enjoy a delicious chocolate milk beverage because he felt like sharing his obsession. He clearly had an addictive personality as evidenced by the hookers and the coke. What surprised me is that I am now fully hooked on Yoohoo. A year has gone by, and I haven’t kicked it yet. There may be something addictive in the formula, but I think I can’t stop drinking them simply because they taste really, really good. I know they’re terrible for me. I can feel it about 10 minutes after I finish each can. But tonight I got it in my head to drink a can of Yoohoo. Before it even crossed my mind not to, I was driving out of my way to go to the deli that sells cans of Yoohoo.

LOS ANGELENOS
Friends, we have something very important to talk about today And it involves bundt cakes. I recently learned about Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale. Share Our Strength is a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting childhood hunger. They’re a powerful force who have had a broad impact, investing in over a thousand hunger-related organizations, and involving themselves heavily in the emergency food assistance network in the US. They take a local, grass roots approach, working with local organizations and businesses throughout the country in the following arenas: - increasing access to the public and private programs that can provide food to those who need it, - strengthening the community infrastructure for getting healthy food to children, and - teaching families how to get the most nutrition out of a limited budget. So, it stands to reason that one of their most successful campaigns brings fundraising back to the community. With the Great American Bake Sale, people all over the country hold bake sales in their own neighborhoods, and the proceeds go toward after school and summer meals programs, as well as nutrition education programs for low income children.

ATTENTION!

AUGUST 18th
Scoops Ice Cream Shop in East Hollywood Tannaz Sassoni http://tannazie.blogspot.com 5

Restaurant Reviews by Food Bloggers - www.blogsoop.com

Via Emilia
47 East 21st Street @ Park Avenue (212) 505-3072
Late last year, the popular Northern Italian restaurant Via Emilia was forced to leave its long-time Park Avenue South location because its building was in was slated for demolition. The reason? Another condo development. Say what you want about the manic pace of apartment construction in the city these days but this was a real loss, a loss felt around the chowhounding world. Fortunately for the hungry among us, Via Emilia has found a way to rise from the rubble in style, moving into new digs about two blocks away on East 21st Street. Last week, Nosher, Chilena and I went to have a look at their modern new space and to see if the food remained as good as it always was.

Strangely absent however is any risotto dish, a staple of Northern Italian cuisine. The wine list makes up for any deficits in the menu, with a few surprisingly under-$30 options. There are several Lambruscos, that once-disfavored o sparkling red s wine (whose w grape orginates g in i the Emilia-Romagna region), m and from the a bottles we saw b being poured b to t other diners, we w can confirm that it appears t to be making a well-deserved comeback. Affordability doesn’t end at the wine list, however: appetizers are all $8 or less, and nothing on the menu is more than $16.50. Try finding food as good at these prices anywhere nearby and you’ll be searching for a long time. We started our meal with two appetizers: a side dish of asparagus alla parmesana, and an order of the restaurant’s legendary gnocco fritto ($8). The latter dish was a delight and more than lived up to its reputation as one of Via Emilia’s biggest winners: four puffy pillows of fried dough accompanied a selection of cured meats– Prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, coppa and sorpressata dolce. The dough is tender and light, lacking the oily or heavy quality you might expect, and it pulls apart easily, all the better to use to pick up a slice of the meat. An all-prosciutto plate can be ordered for four dollars more, but we were happy with the variety platter. The asparagus ($8) was a much simpler dish, but prepared with as much care: six perfect green stems, sautéed with a little butter and dusted with shavings of ultra-nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano. My main dish of spinach ravioli ($13) had an intense spinach flavor that came as much from the green pasta as the spinach and ricotta filling. Each raviolo was bathed in a light tomato sauce b that kept its gustatory distance t just enough to let the freshlyj rolled pasta shine. Given the r labor involved in making ravioli l (as Via Emilia does in house ( each day), this dish follows the e natural law of ravioli — each n plate comes with about 25 perp cent fewer ravioli than you could c

Restaurant Reviews
6

Chilena’s first reaction was, “This doesn’t look like an Italian restaurant!” And she was right, the space is sleek, a little dark, and more downtown than a Gramercy/Flatiron address might imply. The walls have been painted in Necco-wafer colored stripes, Scandinavian-inspired pendant lights line the ceiling over banks of tables and, in the back, diner-style booths round out the ample new dining room. There’s nary a red-checkered tablecloth or chianti-bottle candlestick in sight. Of course, all of this makes sense; Via Emilia has long-specialized in Modenese cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy and, if you’ve visited there recently, you’ll recognize that modern restaurant design is nothing new. Via Emilia’s menu stays true to the region’s focus on fresh ingredients and delicate flavors. There’s a focus on pastas like ravioli, tortelloni and tagliatelli, as well as on hearty meats like veal, pork and lamb.
BlogSoop 2007

hope for. Still, this pasta is worth the price of admission. Nosher’s grilled bluefish ($16.50) offered a take on this humble, strong-tasting fish that elevated it to new heights. Resting on a colorful bed of root vegetables, his portion comprised at least 5 ounces of seafood. Nosher couldn’t stop talking about how surprisingly delicate it was, and even the wintery accompaniment of roasted root vegetables somehow seemed to fit, even in mid-August. Chilena ordered the spaghetti neri con calamari ($13.50), a heaving mass of black squid ink pasta, mixed with loops of tender squid, chopped tomatoes, and generous shreds of torn basil leaves Like the ravioli, the black pasta is made in-house (the only spa-

h tti th t is), d is k dj t ld t t hi th ghetti that i ) and i cooked just al dente, matching the texture of the calamari, and playing well off the cooler, firmer tomatoes. The pasta was also inky-tasting to just the right point– not enough to make your sinuses pulsate, but enough so that you know what you’re eating. While none of us was in the mood for it, we know that the restaurant’s homemade lasagna is apparently a minor celebrity, as are the pumpkin tortelloni, a dish that will doubtless become much more popular when fall arrives in a few weeks’ time. There’s so much to recommend Via Emilia in fact, that it’s a shame that the service toward the end of our meal was so rushed. Ours was a late dinner– we asked for a table around ten o’clock. Still, that should be no excuse for our waiter to tell us that, if we wanted dessert or coffee, we needed to order up long before we were finished with our mains. Nor is a late arrival reason for the staff to begin carting bags of garbage past everyone’s table. If a kitchen wants to close down early, it should let the front of the house know in advance, so every diner can linger over his meal. Minor service issues aside, Via Emilia was otherwise a great experience, and an absoultely excellent value for such glorious food. All in all, we’d say that Via Emilia seems to be taking well to its new location; locals and everyone else in New York City should be happy it has found a new home.

www.charityis.org
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation causes 80% of all sickness and disease, and kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many people in the developing world, usually women and children, walk more than three hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Those hours are crucial, preventing many from working or attending school. Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water. Of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old. Since Charity Global was founded and began activity in August 2006, they have provided clean and safe drinking water for more than 31,000 people by the construction and rehabilitation of freshwater wells. Now, through the work of exemplary humanitarian organizations like Living Water International, Concern Worldwide US, Healing Hands International, and Water For People, they’re building 65 wells that will give close to 100,000 people clean and safe drinking water. You can help. With proper funding and the development of sustainable water systems in communities that can support them, watch as lives are transformed.

Restaurant Reviews by Food Bloggers - www.blogsoop.com

7

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park @ Madison Ave & 23rd St. (212) 889-6600

One of the very best fast food establishments in the entire city, if not the best, bar none. For Manhattan residents, the Shake Shack represents an obsession, where at during prime lunch hours, you can expect to wait in line for close to an hour just to have one of its highly coveted hamburgers. Why the craziness? Well, just like any other of the Union Square Hospitality Group’s establishments, it’s got the seal of goodness from Danny Meyer himself, and they use nothing but the very best ingredients and pay extreme attention to detail to even the little things that make a difference in the quality and presentation of the end product. With something as simple as hamburgers and shakes, that means everything.

The Shack Stack. A Triple Patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, Shack Sauce, with fried portobello and onions.

Restaurant Reviews

The Shack Stack, Bisected.

The Shake Shack line at around 10PM on a Friday night.

The Concrete of the day (Banana Brittle), made from Shake Shack’s custard.

The Shake Shack Menu.
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Off The Broiler
offthebroiler.wordpress.com

Landmarc (TWC)
10 Columbus Circle, Third Floor (212) 823-6123
I’m becoming a familiar face for Landmarc. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing that I actually spend my time at Time Warner Center so often. Y Yesterday m morning at 9 9:30, I ate b breakfast o brunch, or a I would as c consider it, w Robyn with a a fellow and r reader, Kay. W were We about to be seated to a table where most of the lights are dim, I requested for a table near the windows just for the sake of good lighting for the food. So, the hostess was kind enough to let us have a booth across the room. Here’s the view from our seats. It’s nice but not gorgeous. We took a look at both the breakfast menu and the lunch menu, contemplating for a good five to ten minutes. I can tell we took a long time since our waiter kept hovering around our table seeming to get impatient waiting for us to order something. But finally, we know what we wanted. Robyn ordered an egg sandwich with mozzarella and sautéed onions on an English muffin ($10), Kay wanted the Croque Monsieur ($13) and I ordered Landmarc’s Hamburger ($13).

As you can see from the “innards” shot, they packed in a ton of ham, enrobed with the melted cheese, all sitting on top of a thick slice of grilled, slightly charred country bread. It was pretty tasty. The ham was still moist, the cheese is melted to a certain stage where it is still gooey and stringy and the crusty bread was a nice contrast to all of the soft, chewiness of the sandwich. This is certainly a hearty sandwich that really fill a hungry person up. In terms of a petite woman, it’ll fill her (or me) up for a good half day. As for my burger, I haven’t expected a large portion. The burger itself, is probably 3 ounces of meat, medium rare (as requested) and very juicy. As Adam, the man behind A Hamburger Today, indicated from my photo from Flickr, that it’s coarse ground. It was a good burger but it didn’t tasted as good as Shake Shack’s. The bun seemed like a brioche (I forgot to ask) and it had a minute sprinkling of salt on top of the bun. It held the meat well, absorbing all of it’s juiciness but the meat was still oozing out juices from the bun. They had toppings on the side like thinly sliced, sweet pickles, a slice of raw red onion, and a slice of fresh tomato. When I piled it on the burger, let’s just say that there’s too much stuff that every time I bite into my burger, it’ll start falling out from the other end. The fries were pretty good, it’s salted enough, sprinkled with some herbs, and a bit crisp. Not the greatest fries but they were fine. The side salad was the runof-the-mill salad they serve here, some field greens of mesclun and frisée tossed with some vinaigrette. As time passes from my maiden visit to Landmarc, their service has improved and the food is still good. Landmarc’s reputation for their original TriBeca establishment is basically a good wine list, moderately priced food that is good but not extraordinary. I believe Chef Murphy accomplished that same reputation in Time Warner. The Wandering Eater thewanderingeater.wordpress.com
Restaurant Reviews by Food Bloggers - www.blogsoop.com

Robyn offered to share a piece of her sandwich and hash browns to everyone, which I accepted. Her English muffin seemed to be a bit flimsy, that it can’t hold the filling together whenever I bite. It’s also pretty messy just because the eggs seemed to be scrambled a bit and the cheese and onions were mixed in to kind of hold everything together. It tasted fine but not awesome. Kay’s Croque Monsieur was HUGE. I really liked the fact that they plopped about three ounces of cheese and let it melt under their broiler to have that gooey factor in the croque.

9

Hill Country
30 West 26th Street b/w 5th & 6th Avenues (212) 255-4544
Fette Sau is a hard act to follow. This became apparent as soon as we walked into Hill Country. Where was the smell of barbecue? In Williamsburg, the scent of roasting meat bewitches you a block away, here there was barely a whiff of it, even when the counter staff opened the cantilevered storage units that contain piles of brisket, beef ribs, and fatty pork. Manhattan might mean “island of many hills,” but this ain’t the boonies anymore. If Texas-inspired Hill Country exuded that barbecue scent, the neighbors would be hoppin’ mad. (It’s tough not to lapse into Texas talk as soon as you get here, what with the honky tonk music on the stereo.) On the other hand, Hill Country is conveniently located just blocks away from several subway lines, and this, as my fellow diner the Cheese Guy pointed out, is its biggest advantage. The cavernous hall, lined on one side with piles of firewood, chock full of wooden tables, and punctuated by BBQ and beer stations, easily fills with Manhattan diners, many of them guys in ties. This doesn’t even include the equally cavernous downstairs space, which has several long tables for large parties and live music several nights a week. But dang if it ain’t hard to hear in Hill Country: the acoustics are terrible. peppery rub on the pork ribs. And if you ever wonder whether the current Berkshire pork obsession is just spin, contrast and compare the two meats and you’ll taste the difference. Because of the shorter cooking time, Hill Country’s non-Berkshire pork ribs were still pink inside and chewy, not falling off the bone.

Restaurant Reviews

The beer can game hen proved to be a worthwhile experiment. Deep fried with an open beer can inside, it tasted nicely herbal and moist, with crispy skin. It had flavors I didn’t realize hen or canned beer could have. How they managed to wedge a whole can o’ beer in this lil’ critter I’ll never know. Unlike Fette Sau, Hill Country is not hostile to vegetarians. There are a heap of sides, many of them meat free. Sharp, slightly oily Longhorn cheddar decked the pasta in the excellent mac-n-cheese, and the corn pudding is perfectly salty-sweet. Black eyed pea salad was ho-hum, and chipotle deviled eggs sounded much more exciting than they were, but they’re a nice apertif to the barbecue if you get hungry waiting in line.

We queued up for ‘cue, which is sold by the pound. In a Katz’s-like system, you get a ticket at the outset and get your own food. This is true to Texas style, so if you prefer table service, chances are you’d be better off in a fancy-pants New York place. The biggest difference between Hill Country and Fette Sau is the smoker, or lack of a huge, hardworking one like Fette Sau’s Southern Queen. Hill Country’s brisket is juicier than Fette Sau’s, probably because it’s been cooked for a shorter time. But as any barbecue aficionado can tell you, this means it loses something in the flavor department. The rub on the outside is good, but it doesn’t penetrate far into the beef. The same goes for nicely
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Normally I wouldn’t review a place this early on, but I had an opportunity to go and a camera, so please consider this an early report. Over the course of the evening, however, it became apparent that a

lot of thought has already gone into Hill Country. By “thought,” I mean “focus group input.” Like the latest designer fragrance, nothing in the formula offends, but nothing sticks out at you, either. The fauxfluorescent lighting and kitschy props nailed to the walls reminded me of TGI Fridays or Chili’s, though thankfully none of the servers are wearing “flare.” Hill Country has only been open for a matter of weeks, but their in-house barbecue sauce is already for sale at the gift counter by the door, though it’s a pretty average sauce. Setting up a gift counter before you have a devoted following seems like creating your own celebrity fan club before you’re even famous.

Grom Gelato
2165 Broadway b/w 76 & 77th St. (646) 290-7233
“This is the line for gelato?” was the recurring comment people threw in my direction. The line, which I’d been waiting in for an hour and a half, stretched past Big Nick’s Burgers, Jubilee, Beard Papa and Lush, to end at Grom, which was celebrating its grand opening in New York by offering free gelato. “Yes, this is the line,” I sighed wearily. “Nuts,” was the inevitable response. People coped P with the wait in w different ways. d Some enjoyed S the passing th spectacle of sp strollers and st dogs. (Some do onlookers, tako ing pity on us, in even offered ev their dogs for th petting so that pe we’d have w something to so do while we waited.) I was w entertained by e the creative th rantings of a ra lunatic (“Merry lu Passover! MerP ry Passover!” Photo Credit: Roboppy.net/food shouted a beardh ed man. But was he any more insane than people who’d wait 2 hours for a cup of gelato?). I saw some people give up and walk away, and others cut in line. Finally, after 2 hours of achy feet and various conversations with strangers about Havanese dogs and Hillary’s presidential prospects, I reached the end of the line... to find that the extra-dark chocolate was... all gone. I scratched my head. How could this be? It’s not like there weren’t other enticing selections; I saw regular chocolate, stracciatella, strawberries and cream, hazelnut, cappuccino, gianduja. There were also a few flavors of sorbetto and Sicilian granita. But ever since I got addicted to Capogiro’s cioccolato scuro, I simply must have the deepest, darkest chocolate gelato! Well, I settled for the regular chocolate with a side of fior di latte. The chocolate was really quite chocolatey, almost like semi-frozen fudge. I dare say it was chocolatey enough even for me. And the milky, silky fior di latte was the most luscious sweet cold cream.

Manhattan might mean “island of many hills,” but this ain’t the boonies anymore. If Texas-inspired Hill Country exuded that barbecue scent, the neighbors would be hoppin’ mad.
Nevertheless, since this is the kind of free-range place where no one kicks you out, we meandered downstairs to listen to live blues. The luckiest moment of the night came when one of the sous chefs literally tossed Chef Mary and me a bourbon pecan pie at the bar. It was hands down the most delicious pecan pie we’ve ever eaten (sorry, Mom), loaded with fresh nuts and laced with bourbon and molasses.

The bourbon pecan pie, the sugared bar nuts, Th b b i th d b t the bands, the friendly counter staff, the space for huge parties, and the location are all good reasons to return to Hill Country - and the Kruez sausage is supposed to be a tasty Texas specialty as well, though we didn’t get a chance to try it. But if I have a hankering for pork ribs again, I’ll be danged if I’m not on the first train out to Williamsburg.

GastroChic gastrochic.blogspot.com

Salli Vates salli_vates.blogspot.com
Restaurant Reviews by Food Bloggers - www.blogsoop.com

11

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Avenue @ 13th Street (212) 254-3500
“I don’t know how much meat I can eat.” I said those words not actually being unaware of how much meat I could fit into my belly—the meat in question being the bo ssam at Momofuku Ssam Bar—but with the assumption that the amount I could comfortably digest would be pathetically meager. What ended up happening was that my stomach miraculously grew by about five times to accomodate more tender pork butt than any human my size should eat in one sitting. Of course, my stomach didn’t physically grow, so what happened? Did the essence of swine seep into my veins and do some magical stomach-expanding juju on my belly? It certainly infused my viscera, the results of which probably aren’t going to lengthen my life. Overall, I really don’t know what happened. It was mildly frightening. E EATING CHEESE F FUN!) Each tend der muscle fiber stayed attached to s its neighbor until i p poked with chops sticks, at which p point it would q quickly declare its independence from i i its meaty brothers and do whatever a y you wanted it to d do. Which would probably involve p b being lightly masticated (it requires t l little chewing) and drowning in a pool of your stomach acids. d d i i l f Aside from the meat, the bo ssam package comes with eight raw oysters, as much (bibb?) lettuce as you can eat, three dipping sauces (kimchi, pureed kimchi and ginger scallion), a dish of maldon sea salt and rice. The idea is that the combination of all the above ingredients will result in the most deliciousness you will ever experience involving lettuce. Not being crazy for oysters (but not disliking them either), I only made one lettuce wrap that combined the tastes of succulent fatty pork bits with briny, flubby mollusk. (When I say “flubby” I don’t mean the slang term that I didn’t even know existed, but the word I made up because I couldn’t think of right term to describe an oyster’s soft, slippery texture. So. You get “flubby.”) I think most of us preferred it sans-mollusk. My faCHUNK-O-BUTT, also known as the star of bo ssam, also known as “the thing you have to gather at least eight people for and warn Momofuku in advance that you want”. This meat means business. We just stared at the black hole (or glistening, gold brown hole) for a while as a photographer from the New York Times snapped some photos for their upcoming article, “How eight youthful, somewhat healthy foodies nearly died last Thursday night of stomach explosion.” Don initiated the tearing of the meat by ripping out a chunk with one of the four pairs of tongs. The muscle effortlessly came apart from the mother chunk. Our eyes widened with a mixture of horror, delight and gluttony at the sight of fat dripping from the jello-like pig flab just underneath the top-most layer of skin. Oh dear lord. Pulling apart the meat made me feel like I was eating the pork version of Polly-O String Cheese, except this was the real deal, not some bastardized, convenience food version of something better. (By the way, I used to love string cheese when I was little. IT MADE
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Restaurant Reviews

vor (only the skin was salted), but since it was just so goddamn delicious and tender and full of pig-ness, you could (and would want to) keep eating and eating without feeling uncomfortably nauseous (not that there is a comfortable state of nausea...I think). The most flavorful bits were the ones at the bottom of the plate that had been soaking in their own fatty meat juices. Meat spong + meat juice = [stream of drool drips from mouth Homer Simpson style] Like The Little Engine That Could, I told myself that I could climb over the mountain (of meat) if I just BELIEVED IN MYSELF and maybe took some mind altering substances (don’t worry, I’m clean!). I got up most of the mountain without regretting it. After we decided that we could eat no more (the remains are now safely tucked away in Don’s and Gerald’s apartments, or in their bellies) the severity of the meal hit whatever part of my brain it is that isn’t a moron, causing me to hug my meat-filled torso while thinking, “Oh my god, get it out of me GET IT OUT uguhg ughgh jesus what did I do?”

vorite combination was pork, rice and ginger scalit bi ti k i d i l lion sauce rolled up in lettuce, although as the night wore on I ended up just eating un-dipped pork with a chunk of short grained rice (that’s the rice-hungry Chinese in me, isn’t it?) and sometimes just pork. It’s what my heart longs for, apparently. Aside from loving companionship. But for now, the pork will have to do.

Like The Little Engine That Could, I told myself that I could climb over the mountain (of meat) if I just BELIEVED IN MYSELF and maybe took some mind altering substances (don’t worry, I’m clean!).
We kept going. And going. Or was that just me? I ate a disturbing amount of the pork. When other people’s chopsticks stopped moving, I was tearing into another meat chunk. “Hey you guys, why’d you stop?” I’d question in between muffled mouthfuls. Although I did get to the point where I couldn’t sit up straight because some of my organs had been replaced by pork, my bo ssam-eating stamina was much stronger than I or anyone else could’ve predicted. The meat was just too easy to eat. Yes, too easy. Unadorned it didn’t have an overpowering fla-

Of course, after waiting a while and letting the ol’ digested matter settle, you miraculously have enough room for dessert. Then again, each of us only ate the equivalent of one piece of ice cream-filled mochi, which is like adding a grain of sand to a beach. Out of all the flavors—pistachio, guava, coconut-sweet potato and chocolate mint—my favorite was pistachio. I’m afraid I’m not very into the ice cream + mochi combination. Not that it’s bad, just that I prefer mochi (filled with red bean paste) or ice cream/gelato on its own. ...In a bucket. With whipped cream. I can’t be the only one. I’m pretty sure that Thursday night wins the prize for “most meat eaten in my lifetime”, which isn’t something I was exactly striving for. It just happened. I couldn’t stop eating the meat, you know. My brain wouldn’t let me.

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