Don’t even open this book without a very full stomach, because you’ll be salivating almost immediately. Culinary bad-boy David Chang, creator of the impossible-to-get-in restaurants of the Momofuku chain (noodle bar, ssäm bar, ko, milk bar, and má pêche coming soon) surely knows how to feed. He’s a Korean American by way of Alexandria, Virginia, who got tired of pushing papers around after Trinity College, and headed to Japan to “teach English by day, eat noodles the rest of the time, and maybe at some point figure out what I was going to do with myself.” That notorious love of noodles sent him back to the States and the French Culinary Institute. Degree in hand, Chang went from kitchen to kitchen, from New York to Tokyo and back to New York … and finally to founding the now-legendary Momofuku.
The logo represents the “lucky peach,” a direct translation of the Japanese name. It’s also an homage to instant noodle king Momofuku Ando, the late founder of Nissin Foods (yes, those ubiquitous Cup Noodles you find everywhere and anywhere). But more than that, my own initial reaction to the name actually gets justified on page 28 (which is not fit for family-friendly audiences, ahem): “And then there’s the homonymous quality. The restaurant was, for me, a %#&$-you to so many things. Me – a Korean American – making Japanese ramen was ridiculous on its face. Me – a passable but not much better cook – opening up a restaurant while my peers, guys I worked with who were so much more talented than me, were still toiling under other regimes, paying their dues, learning. It was no accident that Momofuku sounds like mother%#&$@^.”
The rest is, indeed, culinary history …
Together with food writer Peter Meehan (who adamantly admits he “hated Momofuku Noodle Bar the first time [he] went there,” but eventually became a regular), the pair have created one toothsome cookbook with deliciously memorable potty-mouthed stories in between to keep you reading (and cooking). For the unlucky peaches who can’t score a seat, we can at least drool over the pictures and hope our own cooking skills can at least approximate some of their lucky fare … are you hungry yet??!!