Momofuko in the Wasteland

by Michael Tucker
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milkbar.jpgThe Upper West Side just joined the world. Move over East Village; now us UWS Jews can sneak out of synagogue on the High Holy Days and chow down on steamed pork buns without leaving our own neighborhood.

A branch of Momofuko Milk Bar opened last week on Columbus Avenue and Eighty-Seventh Street and yes, your energetic reporter was ever ready on the spot to check it out. The menu features milk shakes, floats, cereals with milk, pies, cookies, candy, stuff like that. But then there’s a little section called Buns and that’s what I was after. Eight bucks buys you a steamed pork bun; add a dollar and you get a fried egg on top, which I did. I carried it over to their little wooden bar and pulled up a box to sit on. They had napkins and plastic forks on the bar and big squeeze bottles of hot chili sauce everywhere you looked.

The egg made it a little hard to approach. I didn’t quite know how to lift this ample-sized bun and bite into it while still keeping the egg – which had been fried over-medium, I’d say –from running down my chin. Finally I decided to separate them.

bunegg.jpgI lifted the egg down into the box and squirted some chili sauce on it. Then I was free to attack the bun without fear of shame or stain. It is a bun of many layers, textures and tastes.

First there’s the doughy, almost marshmallow-y softness of the bun itself; then you hit a profusion of barely-pickled pickles – really more like cucumbers — shaved so thin you can see through them – trasparente, as the Italians say. Then you hit the pork, which is the perfect bottom note – slow-cooked for maximum taste and minimum chew. Unctuously satisfying.

Now that I had the bun in a more controllable shape – by which I mean half-eaten – I cut off a nice-sized section of the fried egg, swirled it in some chili sauce and egg-yolk and wedged it between the pork and pickles on the bun. Then I took a healthy bite of that. Momofuko! Momofuko!

Next time I’ll have to see what all that milk stuff is all about.

 

Michael Tucker is an actor and author whose third book is the recently published Family Meals: Coming Together to Care for an Aging Parent.  You can read more about his food adventures on his blog Notes from a Culinary Wasteland.

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