One of the benefits of my current freelance gig is the schedule—I work until an ungodly hour on Monday nights, then have Tuesdays and Wednesdays to recover. I try to be productive on those days off, I really do, but the apartment is still messy, the laundry is in piles, and my various writing projects are yet untouched. It’s shockingly easy to acclimate to a midweek weekend.
Taken in that context, I consider it an accomplishment when I manage to make it out for lunch. It helps to choose to forget about the financial expenditure (dinner normally costs a whole lot more) and the caloric intake (one large meal in the middle of the day is much better for you than a large meal in the evening): Both are easily justified as minor side effects of blog-content procurement. Anything for you, readers. (And the light’s much better at lunchtime, too).
Though I was less than impressed with Momofuku Noodle Bar, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at the spinoff a few blocks over; I’ve been unsuccessful, so far, in wrangling a party large enough (or spendy enough) to spring for the bo ssäm or fried chicken dinners, but Ssäm Bar‘s new(ish) weekday-only lunchtime duck menu? That I could do.
The pulled-duck bun was underwhelming—bland, with way too much mayo—but thanks to an array of sauces and condiments (duck fat! hoisin! sriracha!) the rotisserie duck was a bowl of choose-your-own-adventure deliciousness.
I augmented my order with a side of chive pancakes and bibb lettuce and set about creating the ideal composition. For the record: Tear off a section of that pancake, add a layer of lettuce, a tiny bit of rice, and a small piece of shredded duck; top with a dab or two of hoisin and a squeeze of sriracha (and maybe a touch of that fat if you’re feeling decadent), a pinch of greens and a sprinkling of crispy shallots, crown with a slice of that perfectly pink breast meat, then wrap and consume. Rinse and repeat.
It’s not a bargain-basement lunch, but count it as two meals—forgo dinner and have an ice cream cone instead—and you’ll readily forgive the cost. (And yes, it’s true: I can justify pretty much anything, especially in pursuit of the perfect bite.)
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Avenue (corner of 13th Street)
New York, NY