There is Nothing Good About Being in a Car Accident…

…but it is nice to come home afterward and discover something like Amazon‘s nominees for the best book cover of 2009.  I happened to read Jonathan Tropper‘s This is Where I Leave You not too long ago (at my dear friend Amee’s suggestion — thank you!) so I am a bit partial to its Gray318-designed cover for that reason.  I can say the same for Baking by James Peterson (designed by Nancy Austin and Katy Brown) and the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang and Peter Meehan (designed by Marysarah Quinn), both of which I got for my birthday last month.  And while I do like Doogie Horner’s work on Seth Grahame-Smith’s undead take on a Jane Austen classic, I couldn’t get past the second chapter of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so my biases work both ways, I suppose.

This is as good a time as any to direct you all to one of my favorite blogs, the Book Design Review, where book and design junkies like me can get a regular cover fix.

Oh, and I should tell you that Keith and I are fine.  Our car might not be, but we are.  In the (belated) spirit of the holiday, we are both very thankful for that.

Dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar.

If there’s too long a line at Momofuku Ssäm Bar in the East Village, walk an extra five minutes or so around the corner to its sibling on First Avenue, Momofuku Noodle Bar.  The music is just as loud, the scene just as sceney, and the food just as lip-smacking.  It’s also a good deal cheaper, with large plates ranging from fifteen to twenty dollars, as opposed to Ssäm’s twenty to thirty.  Most importantly, you can get Chef David Chang’s not-to-be-missed buns at both spots.

momofuku-noodle-1When I say these buns are an essential order, I am not exaggerating.  If anything, they’re a revelation — soft steamed buns brushed with hoisin, sprinkled with scallions and layered with thinly-sliced cucumber, in the middle of which is the most glorious piece of pork.  The buns can be made with chicken or shiitake instead of pork ($9.00, regardless of protein), but I can’t see why anyone would want to have anything aside from the pork.  Honestly, I can’t stress how completely amazing it is; there’s impossibly tender meat under the most incredible strip of luscious fat.  Each bite of bun is an incomparable combination of flavors: sweet, fresh, crisp and just plain divine.

momofuku-noodle-2I went a different route than usual with my main course, ordering the sole vegetarian entrée from the restaurant’s menu: ginger scallion ramen ($11.00).  While the Momofuku ramen, with its three different pork preparations and its poached egg, is almost twice the size, the meatless dish is tasty in its own way.  The ginger scallion ramen is served warm and is tossed with seasonal vegetables.  In my case these vegetables were roasted cauliflower and cucumbers coated with a sweet and tangy dressing.  These were actually the high point of the bowl for me, even more so than the salty, nutty noodles (which, it should be said, were tremendous).

The restaurant’s walls are paneled in chunky slats of blond wood which play off the black ceiling, chalkboards and slate floor really nicely.  While most of the seats are at communal tables lined with squarish stools, I highly recommend getting a seat that overlooks the kitchen; from that vantage point, it’s possible to watch the chefs prepare each dish — and, of course, drool.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 First Avenue
New York, New York 10003

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