The Perfect Space For the Next Momofuku is in Midtown


So yesterday I was walking down 48th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue and had a flash of brilliance.  I had just passed the original location of House of Pita, a little take out window that used to serve falafel sandwiches and bourekas to big crowds every day at lunch. Surprisingly it has been vacant since November of 2007, leaving a prime piece of Midtown Lunch’ing real estate completely unused.  I’ve walked by the dark window many times and thought “isn’t there anybody who would want to use this space to serve hard working Midtown’ers something delicious for lunch?”  Well, yesterday the perfect idea came to me:

Bring… back… the… Ssam!  Notoriously, Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village (which recently was awarded 3 stars from the New York Times) actually started off as a fast food Korean burrito place (think Momofuku meets Chipotle), which sold take out burritos, and their now famous pork buns.  I thought it was brilliant (and super delicious) but there wasn’t enough lunch business in the East Village to support the venture… so the current incarnation of Ssam Bar (which we now know and love) was born.

I think it’s time to bring the ssam back, but in a neighborhood that could totally support it! Here me out on this…

Available for Midtown Lunch? Yes, please! Photo by Robyn Lee 

The space is small, so the rent couldn’t be that much- right?  You lug over a couple of pork butts from Ssam Bar every morning and serve Asian burritos and pork buns (of course) out of the take out window. (You could even do the Ssam Bar banh mi if you want to get really crazy.) Throw in an assortment of cookies from Milk Bar (and a soft serve machine???), and you’ll have lines stretching down the block. I’m telling you dude… it would be huuuuuuge!  Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. until the food runs out. Between the Midtown Lunch crowd and the tourist lemmings at Rock Center wondering what the line is for, you’ll sell out easy. 

At the end of 2007, I had a dream David Chang!  A dream involving a Momofuku Street Cart in Midtown, parked outside my office.  I think the time is right for that dream to now be fulfilled!

Admittedly there could be one issue… the window is at the long end of a hallway filled with Jewelry stores that are probably owned by Hasidic Jews (the House of Pita window was kosher of course.)  Do you think that could be a problem?


  • wow, you’d dare tell the Chang what to do? you are a brave man.

  • Ssam Bar is good, but the ssam themselves….meh. Texturally they’re exactly like burritos and flavorwise very asian. But as I ate it though, I couldn’t help but think that I would rather eat and actual burrito than a ssam. There’s a reason why the ssam are no longer the focus of Momofuku Ssam Bar….they’re just not that great.

  • Not just no longer the focus.. no longer available. At any time. This past Sunday I was at Ssam Bar and asked the waiter if there were Ssams available at any of the Momofuku restaurants at any time – he said “none anywhere in the empire at any time” – You can’t get 2 pork buns (or chicken buns fried in pork fat) at a burrito place.

  • Zach, were you aware that Chang (sort of) wished he had opened the Ssam Bar in midtown, because he believed it would have succeeded there?

    So it’s certainly possible.

    I know that the original Ssam Bar concept was “fast-food Asian burritos,” but what were the prices like? (I don’t know, because I never had them.) While the Momofuku pork buns are delicious, they’re really expensive. Is the world ready for $15 counter-service burritos?

  • The ssams were $9 (I think) and totally delicious. I had them for dinner twice a week when the ssam bar was actually a ssam bar. Unfortunately, I think I was probably the only one.

  • Adam, I did, too! I was pissed off when that part of the business went south, leaving them to price me out of any David Chang creation.

  • omg – i think this would be the greatest idea ever

  • Momofuku is overrated overpriced crap.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.