There was only one thing I felt I missed out on during our first trip to New York City in 2011 — a proper New York City doughnut. A really, really good one, not a Dunkin Donut you find on every other corner there (and here in Minnesota, for that matter). We never found that New York doughnut. So, on our third and final day in New York City, we planned to hit the Brooklyn Museum and I found just the spot nearby for my perfect NYC doughnut.
Then something came along that Momofuku’d up my whole plan — the absolute best bite of our entire trip:
This looks like a simple sandwich, but I assure you it is not. This is a pork bun from Momofuku Ssäm. The “bread” is a cloud-like steamed bun from heaven. The sauce is a sweet and sticky hoisin with just a touch of spice. The pickles are fresh, crispy, tangy with rice vinegar and paper-thin. And the filling is a huge hunk of juicy pork belly with the perfect layer of succulent, melting fat. When you bite into it, the sky opens up, rays of sunshine fall upon your face and choirs of angels sing around you. They abruptly shut up the second you finish the last bite and that’s when you realize A) You should have just ordered an entire lunch of these so you could hoard them all to yourself and B) You will not have room for that perfect Brooklyn doughnut and you just don’t give a damn anymore.
This was just the prelude to lunch. K ordered the Duck Duck Noodles with a rich and scrumptious peanut sauce. If you think this looks like an ordinary bowl of spaghetti, shame on you. You’re on time out and there will be no Duck Duck Noodles for you.
I went with the rotisserie duck over rice with both a scallion pancake and some lettuce to wrap everything up. The duck was absolutely perfectly cooked and the scallion pancake was a rare 50/50 blend of crisp and tender. With a little hoisin sauce and some crispy shallots, I had so, so many perfect bites.
We were fueled for our trip to Brooklyn where the streets are wider and there’s more room to breathe. We spent the afternoon touring the quaint and slightly odd Brooklyn Museum — the layout took you from a meticulously recreated period room from the 1800’s straight into a contemporary art installation featuring carpet-covered skateboards, then back again.
As we neared the end of our visit, we realized too late we should have lugged our suitcases with us and checked them at the museum. Instead, we had to schlep all the way back into Times Square to pick up our bags. But our reward for doing this? It was rush hour and a cab to the airport was not readily available. A stretch limo with a *hilarious* driver, however, was available at the bargain price of the same as we would have paid for a cab. In order to not be facing backwards or to the side, we sat in the limo’s only “proper” seat … and had a 45 minute shouted conversation with the seasoned driver allllll the way up front. There was a lot of space for just the two of us and it was pretty awesome to experience a stretch limo navigating Manhattan’s rush hour traffic — all in all, a ridiculously over-the-top end to a trip that was one heckuva treat!
Extra special thanks to Open Table for scheduling (then rescheduling) our trip, for putting us up in a hotel and for picking up the tab for dinner at Top Chef Kitchen. The takeaway lesson to all of you is to enter contests, you never know when you might actually win. Thanks to the staff and chefs at Top Chef Kitchen for a memorable and delicious meal. And THANK YOU NEW YORK CITY! We’ll most definitely be back.