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Ramen Setagaya Closed for Renovations, But Momofuku Guest Star Will Bowl You Over

ramenSarah Darville

If you’re the type to slurp ramen on the off-season, take note: Ramen Setagaya on St. Marks is closed until July 26. The Local spotted workers hauling bags of debris out of the restaurant this morning; head contractor Tom Kim said they were replacing the cracked wooden floor with new tile.

So where can you get your ramen fix in the meantime? Tomorrow at Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ivan Orkin will take over for the night. Mr. Orkin, originally from Long Island, made his name at his own noodle shops in Japan. Noodle Bar will serve three of his creations  – including one featuring pork neck, pork fat, chicken feet, and bacon – along with a smaller selection of their normal dinner food. The menu might be a sign of what’s to come at Mr. Orkin’s planned New York City restaurant; Grub Street reported last month that he’s looking to open a U.S. outpost by the end of the year.

The “Invader from Planet Ramen” goes from 5:30 p.m. “till the ramen runs out” and is first come, first slurp (no reservations), so get there early.

Pork Bun Blitz: Who’s Got the Neighborhood’s Best?

After asking local food maven Kim Davis to suss out the neighborhood’s tastiest biscuits, porchetta, and smoked meat, we sent him to find out how a pork bun newbie stacks up against a couple of heavyweights.

pork buns - jum numNoah Fecks Pork buns at Jum Mum

There’s a pork bun bonanza in the East Village this summer, with Baohaus now located on East 14th Street, and newcomer Jum Mum joining the gua bao stakes on St Marks Place. I set out to compare these aspirants with Momofuku’s gold standard product, and ended up satisfied, sticky-fingered, and not too much lighter in the wallet.

Eddie Huang’s Baohaus built a wildly enthusiastic following for Taiwanese pork buns, in a basement space on Rivington, now home to Pok Pok Wing, before opening on 14th Street last year. Baohaus dresses its “Chairman Bao” with traditional Taiwanese garnishes – pickled mustard greens, fresh coriander, crushed peanuts and red sugar. It’s a sweetish snack, and also embraces Taiwanese tradition by preserving the jelly-like cap of fat on each slice of belly.  If you’re averse to pork fat, get the crunchy fried chicken bun instead. $3.50 apiece. Read more…

Christina Tosi’s East Village

Christina TosiPhoto courtesy Christina Tosi

We wouldn’t expect anything short of an inspired list from the woman who has introduced “crack pie” and “cereal milk” to a passionate fan base in the East Village and beyond, and happily Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar does not disappoint. The pastry chef with a Willy Wonka imagination has worked in the East Village for over five years, and appreciates what she describes as the neighborhood’s “open mind and ‘don’t take yourself so seriously’ approach to things.” It’s a perfect philosophy for Tosi’s unexpected approach to desserts, which will soon be revealed in her first cookbook, “Momofuku Milk Bar,” out in October.

“I hope ours are recipes that carry people through bake sales, sleepovers and celebrations for years,” explains Tosi via email on a typically busy day in the kitchen. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a salty pretzel-studded Compost Cookie at the local potluck. In the meantime, on to Tosi’s favorites! Read more…