Momofuku's Nishi Makes Late-Night Squares, But Maybe Shouldn't
I went to Noodle Bar in '04 when it was unclear it’d make it forget become an empire. There was a time when I woke up to be at my keyboard to snag online tickets, when we checked off large-format meals, visited out-of-town Momofuku, and had a New Year's tradition of starting the night at Booker & Dax (for Dave Arnold's cocktails).
I'm no groupie (the shrimp buns best the ramen IMHO) but I've followed David Chang's career as closely as most food writers over the decade and enjoyed lots of the food (less the 'tude). If it's uncrowded, I'll sneak into Ssäm Bar for spicy sausage & rice cakes, my go-to.
Squares... at Momofuku?
Nishi (under chef Nick Tamburo) started pies weeks ago to bring in business, beverage manager Josh Strom explained. Squares (barely cheesed) all poke the bear: Hawaiian, puttanesca, cheeseburger.
Puttanesca is a salt punch—briny olives, salty anchovies, and the crust's furikake seasoning (a smart, interesting touch). The pineapple (a topic for another time) features two smallish wedges with chile. The cheeseburger, topped with a pile of shredded lettuce was best. Most moisture.
But toppings are secondary. The issue's the crust. It's not good. Dense. Very dry. Little rise to the crumb. I'm told the pans are lined with brown butter—the undercarriage is dark and impervious. They eat like homemade attempts at pizza but not in a good way.
"Has David tasted these?" I ask.
"I don't think so," Strom replies. "He's pretty busy. He just had a kid. He mostly just does media. I think our corporate chef Josh Pinsky had to sign off."
Like him, hate him, that'd make sense. It's hard to believe, love for Domino's aside, that Chang would think these are good.
Everyone may do squares these days, but maybe not everyone can...or should. — #pizzacowboy🍕🤠