Ssäm’s Ssecret Chef’s Table

Photo by Jeremy Liebman
Visitors to Ssäm Bar, David Chang’s sleek new "Asian burrito" emporium, may have noticed a big, unused kitchen that runs the length of the room. Chang fires it up tonight for the first time, rolling out a late-night menu of multiple-element small plates prepared by the chef and a rotating team of ambitious cooks — including his co-chef at Momofuku, Joaquin Baca; Cafe Gray and Cafe Boulud veteran Tien Ho; and several other classically trained Momofuku alumni.

But the real payoff is yet to come. Within the next few months, Chang and his new team of chefs will begin creating improvised, multicourse meals for — get this — one single seating of four each night at 8 p.m.

Those lucky little groups won’t be choosing from the soups, ssäms, and ever-popular pork buns on the regular menu. The special dishes will be made with the same artisanal ingredients used at Momofuku but prepared with far more time, expense, and formal structure than Ssam’s other offerings. Plus, diners will sit at the counter immediately opposite the kitchen, watching the chefs at work à la Masa and Robuchon. In the meantime, the small plates should provide at least a hint of what’s in store.