Friday, May 13, 2011

Momofuku Duck Lunch (food)

I strongly believe in not going to new restaurants shortly after they open. While this is contrary to the whole NYC thing of going to trendy, new openings, I just find that restaurants need a good amount of time to work out details in service and the menu. I do make exceptions, however, and usually when it's a casual concept or a specific specialty, it's actually more important to get there early. Too often, once word gets out, too many customers leads to a decrease in product quality, service efficiency, or value. That's why I strongly recommend going as soon as you can to Momofuku Ssam Bar for the new duck bar lunch.

They moved the Milk Bar across the street, and where the Milk Bar used to be, they are now serving rotisserie duck items from 11:30am to 3:30pm on weekdays. You order from the counter, pick up your food on trays when they call your number, get your own utensils, and find a seat at the all-communal tables. They have people cleaning the tables and refilling water regularly, and tips can be left on the table or in the jar at the counter.

$13 gets you the rotisserie duck over rice. There might not look to be a lot of food here, but you get half of one side of the duck breast. The vegetable filling the rest of the bowl was red mustard frill. It's certainly not cheap, but it is delicious.

The duck is cooked to a perfect, tender, pink. The duck is juicy and the flavor is fresh. The skin is crisp, and reminds me of good Chinese style barbecued duck, except that it's not as sweet and hasn't been hanging all morning. The rice and greens are extremely satisfying after soaking in some of the flavorful drippings of the duck breast. Just a spectacular, simple dish.

There are other items and accompaniments on the menu, but I decided to go somewhat healthy with the broccoli salad. The smoked eel vinaigrette was not particularly strong, providing only a slight smoky flavor, and the crispy rendered duck skin added some crunchy texture. It was served chilled, and for $5 had a decent amount of broccoli, when you compare it to similarly-priced sides at Otto or Torrisi.

A look at the rotisserie. The ducks cook at the top, and the fat drips down onto the basket of potatoes below.

A closeup of the ducks cooking. Because they continuously put ducks on the rotisserie, a couple of customers after me had to wait a little longer as they had just put fresh ducks on. I'm not sure how they would handle it if there were a lot of customers.

All the duck carcasses with their breasts cleanly removed.

It is not cheap for something so deceptively simple, but it is delicious, the duck has a very fresh taste to it, and it's definitely worth a visit.

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