The brooding darkness of the duck dumpling soup
After a dining episode I like to call the Thanksgiving Croissant Debacle, I darted across the street to Momofuku Ssäm Bar, specifically the rear room, which was once the Milk Bar & Bakery, but is now a sort of duck rotisserie and carryout division. There, duck luncheon dishes can be ordered and consumed. Nothing like eating duck in full view of a duck rotisserie, with the quackers going round and round, their legs high-kicking like Rockettes.
The tetrahedral duck dumplings are unique in the city — nothing like them anywhere.
I opted for a bowl of duck-dumpling soup, and wow! Was it good. The broth was dark and odiferous, dancing with baby bok choy. Stir it up a bit (with perhaps a spoonful or two of one of the table condiments), and thin diamonds of jicama (great band name!) swirl up to the surface.
The focus of the soup is not greens or precision-cut vegetables, however, but five unique dumplings. The noodle-like wrappers are configured as a tetrahedron, made of two overlapping pieces of dough, something like the cowhide on a baseball. A samosa is constructed in a similar way.
Inside is bright-pink ground duck. How it came to be that color I can’t quite imagine, but it tastes good and a little loamy. Indeed, the dumplings are fantastic, and once you’ve doctored the soup to your taste with the condiments, you have a very fine lunch. The dish, however, is a little expensive at $13.07, including tax but not tip. For an occasional splurge, it can’t be beat.
Condiment choices include a couple of chili sauces, hoisin, fried shallots, and a chunky yellow sauce I couldn’t identify, though it tasted of sage and garlic. Strange, but good.
The rear room at Ssäm Bar is a little mysterious-looking.
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