I've spent a lot of time in New York over the years - Upper West Side and Lower East Side as a partial resident, and a visitor to most other parts of town in several decades since my first trip to "the City." I've known a lot of chefs, and eaten a lot of food, and one of my enduring memories was one of the simplest pleasures - pork buns at Momofuku. As my New York experiences go, David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar is fairly recent: the restaurant has only been open for 10 years (and today it's an empire with locations in several cities and half a dozen spin offs). In the restaurant world, 10 years is a lifetime, a lifetime in which Change has perfected many dishes, though none has had the impact of his pork buns.
How is it such a simple dish -- it has just five ingredients (bun, pork belly, scallions, cured cucumbers and hoisin sauce) -- such an iconic concoction? One might as well ask how Bach or the Beatles say so much with a handful of instruments. The answer I suspect is that simplicity lays things bare, that the flavors of Chang's pork buns have no where to hide. It's a pristine dish, and it has a fascinating story. I was awed to see the story unfold in a great article (with stunning photographs) by Hilary Dixler on today's Eater website.
For the full story (and the chance to build up a powerful craving as well) click on the image above, or click here to read Hilary Dixler's great article
I'm going to the market right now to get some pork belly and see if I can recreate this...