Anatomy of the Perfect Bite.

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

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