Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Foodie Abroad: Momofuku noodle bar and The Spotted Pig

Some people list iconic sights to see when they go on holiday.  Us – we list restaurants.  If ever I wonder how I managed to obtain quite such a remarkable state of plumptiousness, I need not look much beyond my NYC to-do list.  Which basically read:

See stuff. 

D is very good at picking places in which I want to eat based on descriptions and hearsay alone so I tend to trust his instincts on this.  He came up trumps as usual as evidenced by a fabulous lunch and brunch on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day respectively.

Momofuku noodle bar was an unassuming kind of place from the outside.  We arrived early and killed time in a coffee bar a few doors down.  Although it didn’t take reservations, the area was so quiet that I was in no particular rush and couldn’t understand why my dining companion was getting twitchy as the clock edged towards noon.  At about two minutes past we went back.  And got the last seats in the place.  Five minutes later and the queue was out of the door.

Momofuku is famous for its pork buns and these were undoubtedly absolutely delicious.  The buns themselves are steamed, which achieves a very particular, pillowy texture, and then filled with sliced of melting belly pork, cucumber and a punchy hoi sin sauce.  We had one each and could quite happily have scoffed more – although I am not sure that I didn’t prefer the spicy shrimp buns, where the pork was replaced with a punchy little prawn cake.  We’re going to try and make these at home, so I will report back if I have any success.

Buns! - shrimp

Buns! - pork

D then manned up to tackle an enormous bowl of pork ramen – seriously, small children could have swum in it.  I opted for chilled spicy noodles which were tossed in enough chilli oil to provide instant lip augmentation but very tasty nonetheless – I loved the addition of candied cashews which provided interesting sweetness and crunch.  Again, the portion size was redonkulous, but it enabled me to ask for half of the bowl “to go” and I think I uttered a little keen of delight when this was delivered to me in a quintessential brown paper bag. 


Noodles! (buried)

Despite nursing noodle babies we had been told that desserts here were not to be missed so we forced (forced I tell you!) ourselves to try out the Captain Crunch cake truffles.  I have no idea what these little golden balls of deliciousness actually were but they were sweet and squidgy and wholly lovely. 

January 1st was a somewhat different kettle of fish – not least because we had been shipping industrial quantities of booze the night before.  We abandoned any pretence of budgeting and staggered, bleary eyed, from hotel room into the cosy confines of a taxi cab to head for Greenwich Village and, that most American of institutions, brunch.

The Spotted Pig calls itself a gastropub, and the chef owner, April Bloomfield, is a Brit so clearly knows what that entails.  It tends towards the gastro side of the genre – this is no scabby local where you could pop for a pint and a packet of scratchings.  It felt rather…well, cool for want of a better description, which is not an adjective I’ve ever associated with similar places in this country, but there you go.  The staff, while friendly, were a bit…young?  Trendy?  Slightly annoyed to be working at noon on the 1st January?  Something made them appear a tad disinterested.  I’m going to forgive them for that though because they served me the best cheese toastie EVER.  Although they called it grilled cheese.  I’m not kidding, this was AMAZING.  Look, see the capitals I am using because it was JUST THAT GOOD.  It was just bread and cheese of course but the raw ingredients must have been stellar and the cooking was just bang on – I think it was fried rather than grilled.  That, and a stiff Bloody Mary, and I was almost ready to face the day.  D’s burger looked rather luscious too.  But oh, the grilled cheese. Heaven. 


Look at that beauty(*author drifts off quietly into a (literally) cheesy daydream...)

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave,
New York,
NY 10003,
United States
+1 212-777-7773

The Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St,
New York,
NY 10014,
United States
+1 212-620-0393


  1. Love the reviews -- I have been wanting to try EMP, but yours is the push over the top. And amazed you didn't have to queue for hours at the Spotted Pig -- lucky you! Next time you're in NYC you must try Milk, the dessert bar from Momofuku... there's a reason it's called "crack pie"!

    1. Oh my word. I just Googled "crack pie" and literally let out a moan of greed. And I'm at work - how very unprofessional! But thank you for the recommendation - we're already plotting a return trip!

  2. We are the same whenever we go away, where are the best places to eat :)

    These places look amazing, I am not dreaming of cheese toasties!


    1. Soooo glad it's not just us! And, conversely, your post has me craving sesame prawn toasts!!

  3. Oh my god those buns look awesome as does the toastie, both are going on my list for my trip to New York in April! Anymore recommendations?!

    1. Nicola - a few, will be doing a round up post later this week - think you've had the highlights now, though!

    2. I'm looking forward to it :)