Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Springtime for Rollos: Part 1

by Erin and Xani

This past weekend, Xani and I finally returned to NYC after a 9-month hiatus (loyal readers will recall our amazing visit last September, featuring visits to Porchetta, Yerba Buena, Prune, Burger Joint, and who could forget, Franny's). We did so much good eating -- the result of literally months of research -- and we can't wait to tell you about it!

Xani and I arrived via Bolt Bus around lunchtime on Friday. Since all of our NYC companions were working or otherwise occupied, Xani and I were on our own. In the big city. With no sense of direction and only our Blackberries to guide us. Scary, huh? We checked into our hotel and hopped into a cab downtown to Momofuku Noodle Bar.

We had read so much about David Chang and his collection of Momofuku restaurants (momofuku means "lucky peach," btw), we were beyond excited to finally get to one. We walked into the bustling restaurant, which had mostly a large bar to sit at, and a few tables for larger parties. We didn't wait more than 5 minutes before two seats at the bar opened up for the BCD girls. We had - in our opinion - the best seats in the house. We were literally 2 feet away from all the cooks in the kitchen and we could see how each dish was assembled and plated: beautifully and with great care.

She's a lucky peach to be sitting so close to the action!

Thank you for making such good food, boys!

We knew we definitely wanted to try the pork bun, a dish Chef Chang is famous for and is served at every one of his restaurants (even the dessert place!). The pork bun had a pillowy soft doughy outside, and inside were two scrumptious pieces of pork belly,* a delicious sauce, and a few pieces of pickled cucumber. We added a bit of the super-spicy hot sauce on the table and VOILA - total foodie nirvana. BEHOLD:

It was the single best bite of the trip. Mmmmm....

Ahem, anyway, we got three other fantastic dishes while at Momofuku. We tried some of the smoked chicken wings, cooked with pickled chili, garlic, and scallions. These were great but you know, the buns are a tough act to follow.

Of course, we had to get noodles at the noodle bar! We got the momofuku ramen with (more) pork belly, pork shoulder, and a poached egg. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the broth was super-rich and flavorful. Both forms of pork were delicious, as usual. It was very comforting and really hit the spot on that cloudy day after a 4-hour bus ride.

We also got the chilled spicy noodles with Sichuan spiced sausage, spinach, and sweet and crunchy cashews. Our waitress warned us that these noodles were spicy. We brushed her warning aside, thinking we didn't need any silly warning, we know what we're doing. Turns out, she was right! The noodles were chilled and chewy, and essentially swimming in a pool of extra-hot sesame oil - woof!! SOOO spicy and yet, so delicious. The noodles came with spicy Sichuan sausage (spicy in a different way), and fresh crisp (cooling) spinach, and sweet crunchy cashews. An amazing combination that left our mouths burning behind our smiles.

Chilled but OH so hot!

We wandered around for a few blocks and stopped in for a little Pinkberry, and then eventually made our way back to the hotel to meet up with bestie (and guest blogger extraordinaire) Lauren. We hit up a crappy Irish pub for a few beers to catch up on all the gossip, and we were sure to check in on Foursquare during this and all other stops throughout the weekend.

We parted ways with Lauren so she could attend the rainy Yankees game, whilst we headed uptown to Five Napkin Burger on the UWS for dinner with more of our favorites! We met up with cousins Ann, Steven, and (honorary) cousin Brian, plus Melody and Dr. Lee! What a crowd. We had to wait for quite a bit in the very busy restaurant (which recently won Best New Burger according to Time Out New York), but finally we were seated.

To start we ordered some mac n' cheese and some pork taquitos - both were tasty little bites.

Next, we each ordered a burger, and if I recall correctly, we all got the amazing "Original 5 Napkin Burger," a 10 oz patty with caramelized onions, gruyere cheese, and rosemary aioli. It was so good, and definitely juicy enough to warrant the 5 napkins. Apparently it was so good I forgot to take a picture of it - whoops! It was big and messy. I tried to eat the burger with a fork and knife and was shunned (by Lee, not by the 5 Napkin folks). Xani and I should have split the burger - it was pretty big (10 oz!) and we were still getting over our amazing lunch at Momofuku. Ah well, now we know for next time!

To accompany our burgers, we each got fries (they came with the burger), plus we ordered a stack of onion rings, and tater tots with a fluffy, herby filling. All were delicious - who doesn't love tater tots? No friend of mine.

A few folks got dessert - a brownie sundae and a black and white malted shake, to be exact - and we all nibbled away at them. We discussed the definition of a black and white shake, and determined it is made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce/syrup, instead of chocolate ice cream.

By the end of dinner, the sky had opened up and it was pouring rain. Miraculously, we were able to get a cab instead of taking the scary subway, and we were soon in our cozy bed at our hotel. Yes, I said bed - singular. It's a long story involving a volcano erupting over Europe, but needless to say, with three of us (BCD girls plus Lauren) in the room and only one bed, we needed another place for someone to sleep. So, we requested a roll-away bed be put in our room. Somehow, in our giddiness, we started calling the bed the "rollo" and then Lauren bought us Rollos to put in the rollo! Hence, we came up with this picture:

Sleep tight in your rollo, Rollos!

We slept soundly (thanks in part to the curtain clips provided by the hotel) and woke up to another great day of eats. Stay tuned for part 2!!

EP & X

* We can't resist making a snarky comment about the girls sitting beside us at Momofuku. They ordered the pork buns and they actually removed the fat from the pork belly before eating it. Like, dissected it. I wish the chef had seen this and thrown them out! Blasphemy!

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