Momofuku Ssäm Birthday!

I don't need much for my birthday... a sweet card, a bottle of wine, and apparently lots of pork? Well not just any pork but delicious pork belly, spicy pork sausage, thinly shaved Virginia ham... all from Momofuku Ssäm Bar! What more could a (reformed vegetarian) girl want.

While I love Momofuku Milk Bar, I'd never been to any of David Chang's restaurants so I decided my 25th birthday (dubbed by my coworkers Katherine and Maxine as my 'Silver' birthday) was the perfect opportunity to indulge. And ohhhh don't let my dainty friends fool you, these girls can pack it down.

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Besides pork, Momofuku Ssäm Bar does pretty delicious seafood too. The grilled dogfish was actually one of my two favorite dishes and the charred octopus was delicious... the Santa Barbara uni, not so much. Of all the dishes we ordered, it was the only letdown. I love seafood but the uni was just not very appetizing to me, maybe it was the soft textures or the icy granita on top. Next time I'll have to try the oysters.

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Of course, it was my birthday dinner so we had to order dessert. There are only two options available so I chose the corn ice cream pie. So gooood! But if you're looking for more variety just roll on over across the street to Momofuku Milk Bar. Do you think they will hire me as their new spokesmodel? Or spokesperson as all this pork will do nothing for my model figure.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every person who made me feel so special on my birthday week!

I couldn't have asked for a better 25th birthday.

 

Momofuku Ssäm reservation tip:

  • This is the most complicated part as Momofuku Ssäm Bar is a very trendy yet small spot. We went on a Thursday evening at 8.30p and the place was pretty hopping. Reservations are only taken if you decide to order the bo ssäm pork or the rotisserie duck meals, both of which require online reservations. Otherwise, people are seated first come, first serve. The catch is that your whole party must be present before you can even be placed on the waiting list (lame but understandable). So if you are pretty sure your fellow diners will arrive on time... get there a little early, 'lie' a bit, and say that your whole party is already there. They will put your name and number down then text you when your table is ready. For us it was a 45 minute wait. Luckily there are several bars in the vicinity of the restaurant where you can wait and start the night right with a few drinks (I recommend Nightingale Lounge).
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Ave (at 13th St), New York, NY 10003

Restaurant Review: Souen

I've never really written a 'restaurant review' but I felt this restaurant was especially noteworthy. I first heard about Souen, a restaurant that specializes in vegan, macrobiotic food, in an article featuring Alicia Silverstone. Now, say what you will about her eating habits when it comes to feeding her child, but I've been a big fan of her overall vegan, healthy lifestyle. I even have her cookbook, The Kind Diet.

The beauty about Souen is that it accommodates so many different diets: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-intolerant, raw... you name it. And these days, we all know somebody (or are that somebody) who has one of these limitations when it comes to eating out. Souen sounds like a scary concept. Vegan? Macrobiotic? My sister Christine always makes fun of me by saying it reminds her of the scene in Baby Mama when Tina Fey orders that terrible yeast ball at a raw foods vegan restaurant in order to impress her date. In fact, when I asked my friend Sonia if she wanted to meet me at Souen for dinner, this is how our conversation went:

S: What place do you suggest?

M: There's a vegan macrobiotic restaurant Souen that's super healthy but really good, I promise!

S: Uuhhhhh lol

But honestly, everyone I've taken there has really enjoyed it! I first went for lunch with my friend Anne Larimer (who is gluten-intolerant) and the second time with Sonia and our friend Mythili (all of us are on-off vegetarians/vegans). The first time, I ordered the Macro Plate (shown above) which I would recommend getting with the carrot dressing. The second time, the three of us had quite the feast! Started with Seitan 'Meat'balls... probably the best thing I've had here and definitely a good transition for those who are typical meat-eaters.

Mythili and I also got fresh-pressed juices to drink (a current obsession of mine). Mine was beet, kale, apple which as I told Sonia would 'put hair on your chest' (she was not a fan). The juice was good and definitely fresh but I like my juices to be ice cold, and this was room temperature (echh!).

For entrees, we all ordered something different. I got the Broccoli Tofu, Sonia ordered the Tofu Teriyaki, and Mythili had the Mushroom Risotto. I tried a bite of everyone else's dish, as I'm prone to do, and they were all incredibly hearty and flavorful. My favorites so far would be the Macro Plate (I loved the variety) and the Mushroom Risotto.

Note: Souen also serves several fish dishes for pescetarians, which I have yet to try.

I've known both Sonia and Mythili since high school. In fact, Sonia and I go way back. We were actually neighbors who took all the same classes/did all the same activities together in high school. Both our siblings are now in the same year, at the same college together as well. She's pretty much the spacier, smarter, Indian version of me. Both Sonia and Mythili also know all about this blog of mine and my food-phototaking obsession, which can become a bit of an inconvenience at times (mostly for my fellow diners). But every time a new dish would arrive they'd say encouragingly, 'Take a picture, take a picture!' before we'd all dig in. It was so sweet.

To end our meal, we got dessert. I was probably most intrigued/skeptical about the dessert. Vegan desserts always have the right intentions, but rarely follow through in execution aka lack flavor/texture/buttery goodness. The Cocoa Creamy Parfait we ordered though was SO good, I could eat it everyday! The crumblings of (gluten-free) granola were perfect with the cocoa and soy vanilla layers. It was not too sweet which was something we all noted. This made the flavors of the cocoa really stand out, like eating a square of really good dark chocolate after living off Hershey's. Some people may not like that intensity, but when it comes to desserts, I'm an equal opportunist.

From what I gather about the macrobiotic diet (and honestly, I still don't fully understand what it is) is that your meal should be composed of a nice balance of nutrients. Not too much protein or too much salt or too spicy. No extremes in general but instead a combination of whole grains (mostly brown rice) along with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Pretty much how all of us should be eating anyways, right?

Sure, the health benefits are great. I mean, I definitely felt my inner-Gwyneth and even after our huge meal, wasn't weighed down but in the end the food has to taste great. Souen fits my expectations in all the right criteria: it's healthy, it's delicious, it's affordable. It's also super popular. Lunchtime is not too busy, but a Friday dinner will probably require a 30-45 minute wait. Unfortunately, the service seems to vary according to how busy the restaurant is as well. But I've had much much worse. Overall, Souen is a restaurant I will go to again and again whether I'm vegan, macrobiotic, or just plain hungry.

Souen Union Square (2 other locations in Manhattan as well) 28 E 13th Street NY, NY (212) 627-7150

what's a Kar-dakh-ian?

When New York goes out, it goes ALL OUT. Hence, Fashion's Night Out was a lively affair! The streets of Soho were so packed with people in stilettos last night, I felt even more miniature than usual. I was so surprised to learn that this was only the 3rd year of this event as it seems like 'the scene' for anyone remotely interested in fashion to mingle and be seen. For one night, all the clothing stores and boutiques in New York City stay open until 11p with fun events and performances going on throughout the night (plus free booze and food... if you get there early). FNO has also spread all over the country to over 250 cities, which just means fun for everyone!

The night began when I met up with my friends Anne Larimer and Beca at the MAC store to get prettied up before we hit up all the designer stores. Little did I expect my eardrums to be busted from the shrieking screams of hundreds of people when the Kardashians arrived at their nearby store DASH. complete and utter mayhem as I stood outside the MAC store and waited for someone to hand me a glass of champagne :) life in the city is rough yo.

Afterwards, we headed to Marc Jacobs (one of my favorite designers), proceeded to see the most wonderful $12,000 coat made out of bunnies (which I will conveniently block out of my mind. It was SO soft!) as well as Dakota Fanning. I was more interested in the coat. Then we just walked around stopping by several other stores before ending at Diane von Furstenberg (another favorite!) and Betsey Johnson. It's just so nice to feel completely indulgent every now and then.

By the end, I was completely girl-ied out. The damage: $0. The experience: fashion euphoria.

Fashion's Night Out
http://fashionsnightout.com

my swan song

here are some pictures from my final tour at the Met (Art through the Five Senses). my supervisor and one of the associates i work with came along and were busy snapping away photos like the proud Met parents they are. how embarrassing.

not to sound all sappy, but this summer's been pretty great. having an experience such as this internship has not only motivated me professionally but personally as i have realized how much of a blessing my friends and family have truly been. being so far away from all that is familiar, it makes such a difference to know that you are loved and cared for. i also feel so lucky to have been part of such a remarkable group of interns, most of whom have challenged and inspired me more than they will ever know.

as the last week of my internship comes to a close, i'm excited to take a 3 week vacation back home to georgia where i plan to veg-out and visit my peeps in the boro/nashville. but i'm also anticipating my return to nyc, to see the Met change under fall colors and to find out all that my new role at the museum entails...