Whenever one of our birthdays rolls around, the normal course of action is to surprise the other with reservations for a restaurant we have never been to before. But given that the much-anticipated D.C. location of Momofoku suddenly opened a couple of weeks ago, I immediately jumped at the chance of securing a table for last Saturday night and had to tell her right away
And while David Chang’s latest venture offers limited reservations on their website, they also offer a few tables on OpenTable as well, the latter of which got us a table for four last Saturday evening much to my amazement. Given the fact that we need to hire a babysitter these days, this was a very ideal situation that was validated more so by the fact that the wait time for walk-ins was three hours. Yes, you read that right. Three hours!
The four of us decided to share a variety of appetizers amongst the table before ordering their own entree. Without hesitation we kicked the meal off with an order of their brisket buns, arguably my favorite dish of the evening. Topped with a creamy horseradish sauce, picked red onion, and cucumber and sandwiched by an incredibly warm and soft bun, the slow-roasted brisket was delightfully tender and flavorful.
The pork buns, stuffed with hoisin sauce, scallion, and cucumber, were nearly as good but the brisket variety was my preferred choice of the two.
The spicy cucumber appetizer was a very good if not unique appetizer. The thick slices of cucumber were smothered in a spicy green sauce and topped with crushed peanuts, but the heat was mild enough that it didn’t overpower the dish. Kudos to Eater on the tip as it was a great suggestion that we never would have ordered otherwise.
The biscuit bites were another favorite amongst our party, and the creamy Szechuan honey butter definitely stole the show.
We also got an order of the kimchi but it was pretty standard stuff. Not bad but nothing out of the ordinary.
I opted for the kimchi stew for my main course as the ingredients really piqued my interest as opposed to the other ramen offerings. Served in a behemoth bowl, Chang uses a pork bone ramen broth that is accented with two-week old kimchi, generous slices of pork shoulder, roasted onions, and rice cakes. The stew had just the right amount of spice without going overboard, and while $19 is a bit steep, this could have easily been shared amongst two people.
Rachel ordered the hozon ramen which came with scallion, kale, and panisse. Being a vegetarian ramen, it was very different from the traditional types of noodle soups and even more so then any other vegetarian version. The broth is actually chickpea-based and is very earthy and rich while the noodles were pretty perfect. The other thing she didn’t love about it was the panisse, which was essentially like large pieces of dried bread or croutons on top. The problem was that there was so much of it that it got soggy and appeared to overwhelm the rest of the dish.
For dessert, we decided to share a slice of Milk Bar’s famous Crack Pie between the four of us. Suffice to say the pie was a bit of a letdown as the typically decadent pastry was a bit stiff and nearly required a knife to cut. Maybe we should have gotten the full pie instead, or perhaps we just got a bad piece.We also got a bunch of individually wrapped cookies to go because, well, it’s pretty damn impossible to leave the place without a compost or corn cookie.
Overall both Rachel and I thought Momofoku was solid but not OMG YOU GUYS YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS. The hype machine has fueled the place for months (and yeah we’ll take partial responsibility for that) but it’s not the most amazing meal you’ll ever have and certainly not worth a three-hour wait! (I mean is any restaurant worth waiting that long for? No.)
And when you live a couple of miles down the road from Ren’s Ramen, it’s really hard to justify spending $18 on ramen that’s just not as good as the no-frills Wheaton shop for the expectation of the aforementioned kimchi stew. Where Momofoku really shines is with its terrific buns and small plates. At any rate, it’s nice to see David Chang return home after all these years. So yes go, but for goodness sake, make a reservation! Now pass me a corn cookie.