There's no doubt about it - David Chang is a clever operator. Perhaps not in the traditional sense (he's consistently bucking up against the expected and shying away from any kind of conformity or even uniformity), but whatever he is doing he is doing right because business is pumping and his personal profile has been "hot to trot" for some time. In the past, international recognition on this level traditionally occurred in conjunction with white linen and shiny silverware - thankfully, these days, chefs don't have to ponce around in a fine diner to hi-5 with their fellow culinary movers and groovers - the club is open to anyone who thinks outside the box and uses their talent appropriately.
Admirably "DC" seems to be cruising through life doing whatever he wants to - he's passionate about food and alcohol and is creating places that he'd want to eat in (and books and a fab food mag as part of his empire) - with a choice of venues available to suit his dining inclination at whatever time of the evening.
He's a bit of a rough diamond and that is part of his charm. What's most impressive is that he doesn't seem to give a fuck whether you think he's a brilliant chef or whether his potty mouth is inappropriate or offends you - he is just being DC. And its working for him. I don't know him personally but have met him partying hard, watched him on stage at a food and wine festival and have eaten his food at a private event in Australia and having done that was considering not doing the Momofuku thing while I was in NYC. For practical reasons only - there are just so many joints to try... and so little time... and I'd already tasted his wares... etc etc. However some industry friends insisted I go anyway.
So.... I loved the experience at Ssam Bar. Casual vibe, high energy, friendly funkster staff and really freakin' tasty grub. Plus - Bonus! it was very reasonably priced. Of course we had to get there at some ungodly hour to avoid the queue but so very pleased to have taken the time to see if the place lived unto the hype. It does. And naturally, wasn't what I had expected.
Above: Country Ham - oh my. With Sriracha/coffee mayo
Below - Bread and Butter - freakin' good bread and sea-salt butter - and whipped lardo
Below: steamed buns with pork belly, hoisin, cucumber, spring onions/scallions
Nice short-but-sweet cocktail list too
Milk bar is just across the road from Ssam - and I highly suggested forgoing the dessert at Ssam just so you can pig-out at Milk Bar. Even if you just head in there for a coffee and a gawk at the fab candy bar pie -which I absolutely had to buy and take back to our hotel room for a treat the next day. Again the staff are super-cool but friendly, making you feel like you're at a small party in somebody's home- the place is postage stamp sized, laid back and the crew have a sense of humour. Actually they are way cool but don't take themselves too seriously. A bit like Mr Chang himself.
Posing for the camera and checking we weren't trying to rip her off at the same time - loved it!
Yes. This rocked. Enough said.
Lucky Sydney now has its own lucky peach - momofuku seiobo..check it out here