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Chang’s food has a compulsively edible quality, Platt says.

Question: Can David Chang do no wrong?

Adam Platt: Why, sure he can do wrong. I thought-- And I think I said this when I reviewed Momofuku Ssam. I didn’t review Momofuku Noodle Bar because it was not in the price range that I usually write about but when I reviewed Momofuku Ssam I-- He has been incredibly over-hyped and he’s not by the standards of a classic sort of a fancy New York classically trained chef he’s never run what you would call a large first-class restaurant, and he was- but- and he was over-hyped quite a lot from the beginning. The fact is that when you go to that- go to his restaurants the food has this sort of compulsively edible quality and either you- and part of it is his obsession with— and this is not just his obsession; it’s the fashion-- of sort of the porks and the heavy flavors and the crispy, crunchy fried beefy. And part of it is the Asian influence which he just- which he- which runs through all of his food and it’s a very enticing combination and it’s the kind of thing-- His food when you go there-- You find yourself afterwards thinking about it and you may say, “Well, this is- I’m just eating”-- Certainly, at the last two restaurants, at Momofuku Ssam and Momofuku Noodle Bar, you’re eating dumplings, you’re eating crunchy pork buns, you’re eating bowls of tripe that taste a little bit like chili, you’re eating Brussels sprouts with Vietmanese fish sauce on them. They’re not-- They’re essentially simple dishes but the ingredients are top rate and you find yourself just remembering them. At least I do when I leave any-- And I said this in my other review and the cooking at Momofuku Ssam is the first time- Momofuku Ko--excuse me--is the first time where he’s really taken these what you would call more elaborate classical techniques and put his own imprint on them. And so I think it was the first time where he actually really warranted the hype and I say this in the review and I’m sure the backlash is-- It’s already happening and it’s going to probably continue. The thing about Chang is that he’s- and the people who cook with him-- They’re at a time-- Working in a kitchen-- It’s a high-energy, high-burnout young man’s profession and he is- he and the people who are working with him are working really only with one thing in mind and that’s to produce good food. It’s not to steal their restaurant. It’s not to make money. It’s not to expand to Hong Kong or Vegas. It’s really to produce the best food that they know how in the most intimate setting and in New York today that’s fairly rare, and so that’s why I went a little nuts possibly.


Recorded: 4/22/08