Ding, ding, ding! We have a major contender for my “best of” week with this trendy east village critical darling. Chef David Chang has gained copious amounts of praise and awards for this and his noodle bar and, as inevitably always happens with that kind of success, he has also endured some backlash, debate and outright feuding .
I myself was very skeptical of this incarnation of his peachy logoed empire because I was so nonplussed with the noodle bar. Aside from only having stools for seating (I know, I have to get over it) the ramen itself, while tasty, was neither as tasty or inexpensive as other options. The same might be said for the price of the bahn mi and other dishes at Ssam if it weren't for the fact that they do actually rival the best versions in the city.
There are other unfamiliar dishes which are exotic and daring, and I got excited just looking at all the crazy stuff I could try. We ended up with the bahn mi (again, delicious) and the grilled lemongrass pork sausage (a gourmet version of the vietnamese pork dish you hand roll in lettuce with mint, carrots, and cucumber).
Also on the menu are the spectacular Steamed Buns, which followed from the noodle bar menu and deserve the crowd favorite reputation that proceeds them. Our friends ordered a chicken rolled in chicken thing that looked amazing and was eaten in about five seconds flat, and I got to try their really spicy squid salad and I'm forever grateful to them for it.
It's hard to explain how these small dishes had such an impact, but I think the simple fact is that this restaurant just serves amazing food. (Please note, this review is for the after 6pm menu).