David Chang was named one of the top ten chefs of 2006 by Food & Wine Magazine and his flagship restaurant Momofuku is one of the shining stars of New York's East Village restaurant scene, so he's no novice when it comes to attention from the press—but waiting for a review of his newest venture from Frank Bruni of the New York Times is a nerve-wracking experience nonetheless.
Chang himself handicaps Momofuku Ssam Bar's chances at getting a starred review over at Eater: "Prune has one star – and that places rocks. This is where my money is: a review that says the restaurant is good enough, but not transcendent – a nice one-star. Some witty insights about the food, some finger wagging about the music being too loud, and a summation about how there are certain elements that prevent the restaurant from being great, but those imperfections are what make the place endearing."
So what did Bruni make of Ssam Bar? His review came out online this morning: "There are reviews that introduce an unheralded chef to an unaware public and reviews that take a renegade view, saying a chef disrespected must be redeemed. Then there’s this one. If it came with a soundtrack, you’d hear the clattering of a bandwagon, along with the heavy thump of an overfed critic landing squarely (or is that roundly?) on it. That critic would be me, and his unsurprising message would be this: David Chang is a terrific cook, a pork-loving, pickle-happy individualist whose integration of Asian flavors and his own unbound sense of what’s delectable makes for some deliriously enjoyable meals." Ssam Bar gets a very loving pair of stars, and a lot of chefs are going to be very hungover today.
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