Momofuku Noodle Bar

Restaurants , Japanese East Village
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(7 user reviews)
39 Love It
Save it

Walking into the relocated, larger Momofuku Noodle Bar on a recent weeknight felt very familiar: standard Momofuku decor (floor-to-ceiling windows, light-wood paneling, long dining bar), standard Momofuku crowds (a dozen-plus scenesters queued for dinner). Then came something of a miracle: My party of two was seated at the counter immediately. Turns out the people in line were taking advantage of a revolutionary innovation—tables—as foreign to the old Noodle Bar as reservations or a dress code.

And so the Momofuku juggernaut grows up a bit more. David Chang has gone from East Village rebel to awards-circuit veteran, piling up accolades from Bon Appétit, GQ, the James Beard Society, Food & Wine and just about anyone who has ever eaten a pork bun. A year after the opening of a spin-off, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, the relaunch of the flagship Noodle Bar, a block north of the original, presents another step in the Momofuku family’s evolution (look for Momofuku Ko in the coming months).

The results are consistent with what we’ve seen so far: original. Fun. At times, outstanding. The new Noodle Bar, at 55 seats, doubles the capacity, yet the quality hasn’t suffered. In fact, many of the new dishes raise the bar. While the image of the restaurant’s fare as poor man’s gourmet is a myth—doing Momofuku right runs $60 a person, easy—I can’t help but marvel at how electric the dining experience remains. In my assessment, it boils down to three factors:

Rock & roll attitude: It’s not just the soundtrack or the minimalist Noodle’s Bar’s sole piece of art (a giant photograph of the Band, circa 1967) that says “rock.” Chang, now 30, borrowed money from his dad to start Noodle Bar four years ago at an age when even wunderkinds are still apprenticing as line cooks. He has enough confidence to risk failure—the price of admission for possible greatness.

Thus, Momofuku is one of the rare places where you can actually experience truly original flavor sensations without resorting to molecular gastronomy. One new Noodle Bar menu item, a cold smoked duck breast, comes slathered in swollen quince-flavored mustard seeds that pop in your mouth like fish roe, and a cinnamon-spiked sour cream that reminded me of tiramisu. Bizarre, and addictive.

The high-low balance: Noodle Bar made its bones taking the economic savior of college students everywhere—ramen noodles—and making them hot, duding up most of the bowls with sexy yet earthy ingredients like poached eggs and pickled pear, the latter turning the pork broth of the beef brisket nguyen into a spicy fruit tea. Similarly, the new Noodle Bar has added a single dessert—gimmicky yet appealing soft-serve ice cream in two flavors, eggnog and a rich gingersnap, among the best I’ve ever sampled of this everykid treat.

More interesting to me, however, is the way he takes offal and other trendy yet risky ingredients many eaters shy away from—veal sweetbreads, fried and served with chili sauce; “spicy honeycomb tripe;” a pressed veal’s head terrine—and makes them as friendly as a cheeseburger. In Noodle Bar’s previous incarnation, Chang offered chilled beef tongue; thin slices of that dish now serve as a garnish for a new grilled version, featuring a thick, mild slab the consistency of a pot roast, punched up with a mustard sauce and charred onions.

Porkocracy: Traveling in the deep South, I once encountered this saying at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant: if it’s not fried, it’s not food. Chang seems to feel that way about pork, infusing it into most of the items he serves. Pork stock is the standard, in noodle broths and as a base for sauces. The meat finds its way into dishes, both in classic pairings (with stewed Manila clams and in a parsnip puree, riffs on clams casino and split-pea soup, respectively) and less obvious ones (hunks of Benton Farms bacon sautéed in a kimchi syrup with smoky Satur Farms brussels sprouts). The pork bun, meanwhile, an oozing fatty belly lavished with hoisin sauce, scallions and crisp pickle slices, remains one of the best snacks in the city.

Lasting excellence requires proven staying power and a larger footprint. Momofuku Ko, a 14-seat restaurant in the old Noodle Bar space, promises still more twists—a set menu, and no servers. Another risk, and another chance to see whether Chang is a streaking comet, or a New York dining mainstay. Chang has been reorganizing the lieutenants among his properties as he evolves from rebel chef to large-scale restaurateur. Based on the new Noodle Bar, he has a good chance to expand his dominion without compromising his rep.

Venue name: Momofuku Noodle Bar
Address: 171 First Ave
New York
Cross street: between 10th and 11th Sts
Opening hours: Mon–Thu noon–4:30pm, 5:30–11pm; Fri noon–4:30pm, 5:30pm–2am; Sat noon–4pm, 5:30pm–2am; Sun noon–4pm, 5:30–11pm
Transport: Subway: L to First Ave; N, R, W to 8th St–NYU; 6 to Astor Pl
Price: Average main course: $13. AmEx, MC, V
Do you own this business?

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
Lindsey W

I finally came here with a friend on Sunday afternoon. We had a 30 minute wait which I found reasonable for a place that seems to always be busy. I got the brisket buns and my friend got the chicken pho (not the actual names, which I can't remember) and they were both delicious. We also split the Asian pear salad I think it was called and it was SOOOO good, much spicier than I had anticipated, but 100% worth it and amazing. I look forward to coming back here and trying more items on the menu. 

Peter Y

Momofuku, the brainchild of David Chang, is known for its ramen, Asian fusion dishes, and large format meals. 

At Momofuku Noodle Bar, they specialize in ramen (obviously) and fried chicken dinners. Due to its popularity, there will almost always be a wait here, regardless of time of day. I'd recommend putting your names down and then checking out a local bar like Keybar for some drinks. 

I've tried both their ramen and fried chicken here, and while the ramen is pretty standard (I prefer Totto and Minca, honestly), their fried chicken are the true standouts. Like all their large format dinners, you will need to make a reservation beforehand (4-8 people), and make sure you're there for your reservation on time or there will be a $100 charge. 

Their fried chicken dinner is done in two styles - a southern style buttermilk and a Korean style. The generous portions are more than enough to feed your entire party, and each piece is insanely juicy, with a crispy layer of fried crust.  My only complaint is that while their chicken is amazing, I just don't think it's worth the price. Overall though, including the experience, I'd say it's a pretty solid dinner spot. 

Jared W

Got there just before they closed for the afternoon and was seated right away. Loved everything especially the shrimp buns.


We got in line 45min before the restaurant opened in order to be part of the first seating of the night, and while the ramen was good the pork buns REALLY made it worth the wait...Keep an eye out for the daily specials too - they're always delicious.

Chloe W

 If you love ramen, you have to visit here when you're in NYC! I went here for a birthday dinner and the noodles lived up to every expectation that I could possibly dream of. Everything on the menu is delicious, but I would recommend sharing the momofuku ramen and the spicy noodles so you can have the best of both worlds.  The shitake mushroom buns are insanely good and worth the (potentially long) wait.  (The food is also Instagram-worthy, but I challenge anyone to not dive into their food immediately after it's served. It's really that good.)

WIll P

Delicious food for a great price.  The pork belly ramen always hits the spot on a cold/rainy day.  Make sure to try the brisket buns!

Tazi Phillips

This ramen house is one of my favorites in NYC and a perfect meal as the temperature falls. I typically go for their namesake, the momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder, and a poached egg. They have daily specials, soju slushies and fried chicken (reserved in advance for 4-8 people).