Sarah spent a week cooking from the menu of David Chang's first three restaurants: Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar & Ko.
Why this ranking?
These meals are fun to make and genuine crowd pleasers, but most of these dishes are extremely time-intensive. The ramen alone required 7 different recipes throughout the book, and a lot of them had to be done between 6 and 24 hours in advance. I definitely considered making a Gantt chart more than once just to make everything happen on time.
This book isn't beginner-friendly because a lot of the techniques are written for someone who's in the kitchen regularily and knows how to julienne carrots. However, if you have some experience cooking Asian dishes, I think you'll find this book challenging in the best ways.
Either way, if you're a fan of Chang's work, you should have this on your shelf.
Confession time: I don't love ramen. I don't hate it, but I'm not the type to go out of my way to get my hands on a bowl either. Then this winter happened and our little farmhouse in rural California was freezing. All I wanted to eat was soup. So I opened Momofuku, saw the ramen and the kimchi stew and that was it. It was time to brave the unknown and finally make my first batch of ramen.
I'll go on the record after cooking through this book saying that ramen — when you have the time — is delightful and I will probably be making that again. I say probably because this book has you going through a lot of hoops to get ramen in your belly. Of course, once I took the time to make ramen, I suddenly had the majority of the ingredients I needed to make kimchi stew, ssam, and most of the rest of the book.
This cookbook is interesting because it was written with the purpose of documenting the hypergrowth that Chang experienced while opening Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar and Ko in the early 2000s. The recipes reflect that purpose and read like they're written more as a biography of a restaurant's opening rather than to be a guide for home cooks. So, if you're new to cooking, this book might be tough to get into for that very reason. If you're a superfan of Chang's and you want to know more about how he got started in his food journey or want to challenge yourself and try cooking like he does, then picking up a copy of Momofuku is a no-brainer.