And my friend, whom I was visiting, was open to all the restaurant suggestions I had. And there were plenty of them. But at the top of the list was Momofuku.
One of the first meals we enjoyed was at Momofuku Noodle Bar. And, towards the end, we had another amazing meal at . . . Momofuku Noodle Bar. Because even though I had wanted to go to the Noodle Bar and Ko during the trip, somewhere along the way things got confused and when I thought we were at Ko, we were at the Noodle Bar. Whoops.
We could have later gone to Ko when we realized the error, but I didn’t feel I could visit Momofuku and not have the ramen, which is one of those dishes that instantly transports me back to Japan (when it’s done right) and yearn for Japan (when it’s not).
That first night at the Noodle Bar we ordered the pork buns (which I still daydream about sometimes; they were just unbelievable) and the Ginger Scallion Noodles. These, these were so good that I was almost tempted to order them the next time we went back. Chewy ramen noodles, doused in a mix of thinly sliced green onions with a pungent hit of ginger, a slight hint of salty soy. I don’t think we left a single slice of scallion in that bowl.
We ate a lot of amazing meals that week (and had some incredible experiences too: a Broadway show, an afternoon at the Met) but I found myself coming back to Calgary and thinking about the noodles. When I took the job as the Food Writer for the Calgary Herald, I was quietly ecstatic to discover I would have access to a fairly good library of cookbooks (for research purposes, of course), which included the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang and Peter Meehan. I may have pulled it off the shelf to flip through in my first week on the job (for research purposes, of course). And then I kind of put the idea of making the noodles on the backburner.
Until this week.
When, suddenly, all I wanted to do was make those noodles.
So I did.
The recipe is ridiculously simple and it’s really only mincing the ginger and slicing the onions that takes any amount of effort (and, in the end, not all that much).
But the cookbook also outlines how the restaurant serves up the dish that I had fallen in love with a year ago:
Cook six ounces of ramen noodles, drain and toss with 6 tablespoons of the ginger scallion sauce, then top with bamboo shoots (another recipe from the book), quick-pickled cucumbers (another recipe from the book), pan-roasted cauliflower (pretty much just like it sounds), more sliced scallions and a sheet of toasted nori.
Yup, that sounds delicious. But I just didn’t have the patience to do any of that.
Maybe next time.
(I wrote more about my trip over here, if you want to check out some of what I ate — hint: Crack pie! — and some hot shoes I bought.)
Ginger Scallion Sauce
- 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites, from 1 to 2 large bunches)
- 1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
- 3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy , vinegar and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Add several spoonfuls to cooked ramen noodles.
(You can find ramen noodles in most grocery stores these days, typically in the produce section by the fresh herbs and wonton wrappers.)