Mariah Carey has yet to move her shoes into her new closet. Photo: Jeremy Liebman
Official Hours-of-Operation Keeper at Dave Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar must be the hardest job in the restaurant business. The sleek spot, which began its life as a cafeteria-style restaurant serving Asian burritos every day from 12 noon to 10 p.m. and then, several weeks later, entered its phase-two transformation into a full-service “latenight” restaurant on Wednesdays through Sundays, continues to tweak its hours and menu. Not unintelligent East Villagers are perplexed, if not downright baffled.
Partner Joaquin Baca acknowledges that figuring out what you can get to eat and when you can eat it at Momofuku Ssäm Bar has become a kind of culinary Rubik’s Cube. “During latenight, we had people coming in looking for a burrito,” he says. “And during burrito hours, we had people coming in looking for a banh mi.” The solution? On January 1, official “burrito hours” were changed to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Now, 6 is when they bang the dinner gong for the new, early “latenight” menu, which will now be available seven nights a week (as opposed to the previous five) and until 2 a.m. instead of the old 2:30 a.m.
Lest anyone pine for the good old original-burrito-hour days, rest assured that now you can eat a burrito practically anytime you want, or at least from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. But alas, after 6 you no longer have the option of customizing it. If you’re still wondering when it is you will be able to tuck into a banh mi, that’s strictly a “latenight” menu item, which means you can only get it after 6… for now, at least. As if that weren’t enough, the Ssäm Bar boys have also larded the menu with deluxe ingredients like black truffles, a $38 20-ounce ribeye, and $28 shellfish claypot dish right alongside the ham plates, the goat butter, and the steamed buns. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld