Come for the buns, stay for the kimchi


Personally I thought Ippudo made vastly superior pork buns compared to Momofuku-- while like buttah, the pork belly is disappointingly plain compared to Ippudo's savory/sweet/unctuous bun. Sriracha should never be a necessary addition when it comes to flavor. However, Ssam's bar buns are much better-- smokey mayo + pickled radish + crispy belly + avocado make for a bun that's greater than the sum of its parts. It's a flavor that's decidedly Californian Asian-American-- delicious because of its lack of restraint.

However, the star of the show is decidedly the kimchi apples-- fuji apples tossed in kimchi with crisp bacon. It's a very simple dish but one well executed: the apples retain all of their bite, the kimchi flavors are pronounced, and the bacon adds a great salty counterpoint that brings it all together. I left thinking I needed to recreate the dish myself.