First opened in 2004 Momofuku Noodle Bar was one of the original restaurants on my ever-growing iPhone list of restaurants that I hope to visit in my life time (and yes I know iPhone hasn’t been around that long). Now one of 13 restaurants owned by David Chang, including one in Sydney Momofuku Seibo, Momofuku Noodle Bar is renowned for its signature pork buns and having the best ramen in New York. Forget the ramen – we came for the pork buns. Usually my skills of navigation are on point but this time around I led us in the exact wrong direction of where we wanted to go so we ended hailing a taxi to take us there.
When we arrived there was yet another large line – much to MS’ dismay because he was getting a little fed up with having to line up for food everywhere we went. In my defence all the good places I take him to are usually quite popular hence the hefty line up but I always assure him that it’s worth the wait. For Pete’s sake if he hadn’t met me he would still be eating dinner at Cock N Bull on a regular basis, now he’s dining at trendy restaurants in New York that he knows nothing about and doesn’t care for either ha! I was well aware from reviews that it could take up to an hour to get a seat but I played it down to MS telling him that I read the wait was usually only about 15 minutes – what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Inside the door it was hard to differentiate between exactly who’d had their name taken by the hostess and who was waiting to get their name taken by the hostess. Lucky for me a friendly local (surprisingly the only kind that we met in NY despite their gruff reputation) arrived straight after us and ushered me up to the front of the restaurant with him and within ten minutes MS and I were in!
*Goddammit! Why didn’t I take more photos?!*
We took a seat near the end of a long communal table next to a group of three that were high up in the corporate sector of Starbucks. They had come together in Manhattan from various parts of the USA to inspect a few of the Starbucks stores and make sure things were up to scratch. MS and I ordered our meals and chatted to them about the terrible coffee that we had encountered on our trip so far with the worst of all being at bustling LAX diner LA Roadhouse Route 66 – the food was also terrible. We told them how Starbucks had become a beacon of light and hope on our six day road trip from Columbia, SC to New York City and that it was our ‘go to destination’ for a decent cup of coffee in the USA. Although he worked for Starbucks one of the men of the trio told us to go to Blue Bottle Coffee shop for a decent cup of coffee when we were in San Francisco much to the dislike of the other guy and girl in the group.
I’m 90% sure I saw that kid (now grown man) from Billy Elliot standing inconspicuously in the corner at Momofuku but either no one else recognised him or they are just so conditioned to seeing famous people in New York that no one gives a f*ck. I pride myself on my uncanny ability to pick random D grade celebrities out of a crowd and know exactly what obscure movie they were in back in 1996. Kind of like this one time back in 2007 when I served the kid from the 1st Jurassic Park movie at the Cairns airport. He’s been completely ‘not famous’ since starring in Jurassic Park except for a run with Meryl Streep down the Kootenai in The River Wild and man did he get ugly but I knew exactly who he was from the moment I spotted him. A true talent that I could really go places with I’m sure.The seating conditions at Momofuku are practically elbow to elbow and you have to shout to speak to the person you are dining with but despite how busy the restaurant was the kitchen was absolutely pumping out dishes and our bun entrée took no more than about 10 minutes to arrive. We had ordered two each of the Shitake Buns with Hoisin, Scallion and Cucumber (US$10 each) and two each of the Brisket Buns with Horseradish, Pickled Red Onion and Cucumber (US$12 each). The buns were actually quite filling and the Shitake Buns were a clear winner for both of us. Anything with Hoisin Sauce is normally a winner for me. MS enjoyed them so much that he ordered himself two more (he is a fatty though). Not long after we polished off our buns our bowls of ramen arrived.
Momofuku’s signature ramen is your typical ramen with Pork Belly, Pork Shoulder and a Poached Egg (US$16) but they also have a yummy sounding Chilled Spicy Noodle on the menu with Sichuan Sausage, Spinach and Cashews, only thing is that it was a little too cold out to have chilled noodles. The hearty bowls of pork broth were huge and we struggled to finish them especially since we’d already had entrees. Purported by many to be the best ramen in all of New York City it certainly may well be because we didn’t have any other ramen to compare it to while we were there. The ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar was delicious but, well, not to brag but MS and I were not that long ago eating ramen from some of the best ramen joints in Japan so our tastebuds have been a little spoiled of late. In the end I think I had hyped the place up a little too much in my head but the buns alone were worth walking in the wrong direction for. I just looked at photos of the inside of the restaurant online and I didn’t even recognise it because when we went there were that many people there you couldn’t even make out the walls and furniture. Don’t let that deter you though. If the crowds are anything to go by then even after 11 years as one of the most popular eateries in New York City, Momofuku Noodle Bar has still go it.
I’m out at sea (well I was when I wrote this) and bored out of my frigin brain so I figured I might as well attempt to kill a couple of hours by starting my next post. Recently a friend of MS’, and subsequently mine, invited us out for dinner to celebrate his birthday with his new wife and a few mutual friends. They tossed around a few ideas in a group message on FB as to where to go and in the end went with Linga Longa. I was happy with that decision (not that it was up to me at all) because I had heard good things about Linga Longa but I hadn’t yet been there (story of my life).
Saturday night came and MS and I arrived at Linga Longa to find we were the last ones to get there. We were seated down the back of the restaurant at our table of 8 (4 couples). After a bit of chit chat, me filling people in on how awesome Shanghai was and oohing and ahhing about a friends new Dashund puppy we ordered some drinks and had a look over the menu. The restaurant was full for a Saturday with a couple of waitstaff working overtime to keep all the tables happy.
I ordered my usual glass of Sauvignon Blanc while MS, after finding out that the only Cider that Linga Longa had on the menu was Strongbow (why haven’t restaurants caught onto the whole cider thing yet and who the hell even drinks Strongbow?!), decided he would have a Black Russian. Yeah I had no idea what it was either or maybe I’m just not with the times, who knows. So… apparently a Black Russian is Coke with Vodka and Kahlua. I didn’t think it was something that would appeal to me at all – especially considering that I haven’t touched vodka with a 10 foot pole after an entire day spent with my head in a bucket after only 5 vodka’s during a State of Origin night at the Courthouse a few years ago (okay okay they were the more than lethal Smirnoff Black’s but still!). Turns out that Black Russian’s are actually alright, well the sip that I had of it anyway. The birthday boy, SG, liked the idea of a Black Russian so much that he ordered one for himself after consuming what I can only say is a girlie drink – a mojito (yes SG if you are reading this mojito’s are for girls).
Three out of four couples at the table had some sort of voucher to use for dinner. When I say ‘some sort’ I mean 2 x Table 52 cards plus MS and I had our Entertainment Book Gold Card. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to use all three together. Apparently there was quite a bit of commotion caused when some of the guys at our table had tried to use a few Table 52 cards at Wink 2 a few months prior to this birthday dinner – to put it lightly the waiter/owner whatever he was (I wasn’t there) was quite rude and as a result none of them will ever go back there again, and that is on top of the ordinary food that they had already had. Anyway, it remained to be seen how we would go with our vouchers, but I figured we would just wait till it came time to pay the bill to find out.
We all ordered entrees and mains with MS and I ordering a Salt and Pepper Squid and sourdough with a trio of dips (Hommus, Babaganoush and Tzatziki) to share between the two of us. The Salt and Pepper Squid seemed to be the most popular entree at our table with four servings ordered in total, however it took a good 40 minutes from when we arrived to when we received our entrees – hell we didn’t order until thirty minutes after we arrived! Just that little bit too long if you ask me. I had high expectations for Linga Longa since I had heard a lot of good things about it and people are always harping on about the fantastic service they receive there, but all was not lost.
In between waiting for our entrees and chatting we watched the torrential downpours outside from the warmth and dryness of our cosy table for eight. Our entrees arrived in a procession bought out by two of the waitstaff. The sourdough and dips were placed in front of me whilst the Salt and Pepper Squid which, let’s face it were actually meant for MS, were placed in front of him. There was a small pile of lightly seasoned squid next to a small garden salad with a lemon wedge and some tartare sauce. The squid was delicious, tender and an okay sized serving however for the AU$18 we paid I would have expected a little more. My trio of dips came with 6 slices of grilled bread, some a little burnt around the edges which didn’t get eaten.
The presentation of both the squid and the bread and dips was very homestyle and not nearly as fancy as I was expecting but then again the more I think about it I am pretty sure that homestyle cooking is part of the concept and the appeal at Linga Longa. The bread and dips weren’t anything to write home about – just bread and dip really. A couple of others at the table had chosen the Deep Fried Camembert with Tropical Fruit and Berry Coulis for AU$19.50 (didn’t get a photo) as their entrée. I was lucky enough to snavel a piece from someone else’s plate and it was very decadent – but good. Very good.
We waited another 15 or so minutes, ordering another round of drinks in the meantime (Black Russian #2) and then our mains arrived. MS had ordered the Chicken Breast Stuffed with Camembert, wrapped in Streaky Bacon, and finished with a Creamy Parmesan Sauce and Mashed Potato for AU$31.50. Although the Chicken Breast was stuffed with oozy Camembert Cheese MS found it to be very dry and chewy. The vegetables on the side of his plate were cold as though they had just been taken out of the fridge. He was pretty disappointed with his meal and didn’t finish it all, leaving about 1/3 behind. For what he got I think that $31.50 was a little steep – it’s just a chicken breast, really. In my opinion it’s really just one of those boring, ‘standard’ dishes that every restaurant has on the menu for the tame and unadventurous individuals like MS.
After tossing up a few different dishes on the menu I ended up going with the Roasted Pork Special (especially after finding out that it was pork belly because I have a major weakness for anything with crackling attached to it). It was Roasted Pork Belly with Sliced Apple and Sauerkraut on the side for around the AU$39 mark. I have to say that my dish was delicious. The Pork Belly was succulent and juicy with just the right amount of fat to meat ratio and shock horror the crackling was actually crispy (a mean feat for restaurants, and even myself sometimes). The sweet apple and sauerkraut were beautiful additions to my dish – I really, really enjoyed it!
Across the table from us the newlyweds were enjoying their own meals. After wondering if the Bugs were a little too messy for a dinner with friends, AM decided to order them anyway following a few words of encouragement from myself and SG. The Chargrilled Bugs with Lemon Butter, Peri Peri Sauce and served with Steamed Rice and Veggies for AU$38 was a more than generous dish with two and a half bugs in total nestled next to the rice and veggies. Turns out that AG didn’t make too much of a mess after all but she sure as hell enjoyed her meal and was more than happy with her choice of main.
Next to her SG had the Duck Al’Orange – Half Semi De-Boned Duck twice cooked with Buttered Pomme Landaise and Orange and Cointreau Sauce for AU$34.50, a dish that I had also tossed up getting because let’s face it “duck is the shit!” No, not “shit”, “the shit”. I love duck… but not as much as I love pork belly. Anyway, so again we were all surprised with the portion size. One reason that I didn’t order it was because I assumed it would be just a small duck leg and I would be left hungry but no, not this Duck Al’Orange. I think there was a little jealousy around the table when SG’s main arrived. It has to be said that SG thought it to be pretty tasty too. Sizeable and tasty = winning!
To be honest I don’t remember a whole lot about the dessert part of the night. Most likely because neither MS or I decided to have any (there was no Sticky Date Pudding *sad face*). I do recall something about the rest of the table ordering Chocolate Fondant’s in proliferation around us though and by all reports they were full of gooey, chocolate-y goodness.
So to wrap things up for our Saturday night dinner at Linga Longa… It appears that good old fashioned service and home style food is the biggest draw card for diners at Linga Longa. The owner personally welcomes people as they arrive at his restaurant and from what I observed it seems that a lot of them are regulars at his restaurant. The owner and his staff have obviously taken the time to get to know many of these people whom most likely live in the immediate Edge Hill area, or close by.
The majority of the food (except for MS’ chicken and my sourdough) was exceptional albeit a little on the pricey side but I think that’s what most diners are happy to pay for good French style, home-cooked food, often generous portions (well for fine dining anyway) and service in a relaxed and cosy but still classy atmosphere. Also worth mentioning was the fact that we were able to use our Entertainment Book Gold Card and the others also used their Table 52 cards without a single word of protest uttered by the waiter who organised the bill. Another win! Linga Longa certainly lived up to it’s name because we were there for over two and a half hours but unlike the horrible Smirnoff Black’s that will never see the light of day with me again this restaurant is well worth a revisit.
120 Collins Ave, Edge Hill QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4032 2136
Opening Hours: Tues – Thurs 5.30pm – 10pm, Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 10pm, Sat 5.30pm – 10pm, Sun 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 10pm