I have been a fan of Christina Tosi for years, but it took a long time before I went to an actual Milk Bar store. I’ve ordered from them, had family bring back treats, and even baked the book myself. Finally, I made it my mission to go, but I had to do it right. Anyone who has seen Christina Tosi’s Chef’s Table special knows that she opened her first Milk Bar store right across the street from David Chang’s Ssam Bar, making Tosi and Chang even more of a dream team than they already were. I decided to make this into a coming of age experience by putting way too much emphasis on every move I made and bite I took (I may haven taken home every piece of paper with a Momofuku peach or Milk Bar cake on it), but I digress. Let’s get into the food!
First of all, if you were to look at the Ssam Bar menu online, you would see that the infamous buns are only available for brunch. LIES! Chang’s signature pork belly buns and mushroom buns are specials even when not on the menu. I didn’t know that until I sat down and ordered lunch, and it changed my life.
The mushroom buns were so good. They had Ssam Sauce on them, David Chang’s special sauce, which gave it a little spice which is always paired well with cucumber.
Next up are the pork belly buns, which were out of this world. The pork belly was perfectly tender and juicy, but wasn’t a mouth full of fat kind of dish. Once again, the Ssam Sauce added spice which was great with the cucumber. I liked the pork more than the mushroom, but I would reorder both next time.
For my main course, I ordered the Hot Homestyle Fried Chicken. I’m a big fan of Chang’s Netflix show Ugly Delicious, so I know fried chicken is his favorite food. This means I know damn well David Chang isn’t going to mess up his favorite dish, so I had to order it. The first thing I did was clank my fork against the skin because it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was the crispest yet thinnest outer layer of fried chicken I have ever seen, which made it the most delicious fried chicken I’ve ever had. It’s also sitting in a jalapeño oil, which was flavorful without being too spicy, with cucumbers and cilantro. When you got all three components in one bite it was pure magic. There were layers of flavor and texture that blew my mind, which is why I dream about this chicken every night.
Now on to Milk Bar! Before this event, I tried Tosi’s Birthday Cake, Malted Chocolate Cake, Corn Cake, Birthday Cake Truffles, and every one of her cookies. I came in as a fan, and had my order already planned out. I knew I was getting the classic Cereal Milk Soft Serve with Cornflake Crunch and Crack Pie (now known as Milk Bar Pie).
May we begin with the genius preparation of the ice cream? At Milk Bar they start with a layer of Cornflake Crunch at the bottom of the cup, then put Cereal Milk Soft Serve, and then more crunch. There is crunch in literally every bite. So simple, but so necessary! I love that it’s not overly sweet and has a nice salted flavor. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory and crunchy and smooth. I want to live in a world that is made out of this dessert.
Finally, I want to talk about Milk Bar pie. Have you ever had a lemon bar? If so, imagine a lemon bar without the lemon flavor. What you have then is a buttery and gooey bar, but now add a chewy oatmeal cookie crust around the filling. Do I even need to continue? It seems like it would be too rich to eat a lot of, but I have debunked that theory twice already. It’s not only a must try, it’s a must go out of my way to get this as soon as possible try!