Momofuku, a distinctive sort of book about noodles and adventurous flavor combinations—what its author calls “bad pseudo-fusion cuisine”—looks to us a likely contender for a contemporary book that will remain among the favored classics for many years to come.
David Chang (1977– ), of Korean heritage but American-born, was already a success in the restaurant business with three successful establishments in New York City at the time he published a book about them in 2009. Working with Peter Meehan, then at the New York Times, he produced a bold, brassy book celebrating the Asian noodle (especially his already famous ramen bowls) and an explosion of inventiveness involving daring flavor combinations that seemed, almost unfailingly to work—for himself, for his customers, and, in time, for his readers.
It was a form of fusion but far from the studious, almost clinical, merging of, say French and Japanese or Chinese and Latin American that had been a presence since the 1970s. This was a fusion of the imagination—cauliflower with fish sauce and mint, snap peas with horseradish and butter, oysters with pureed kimchi, the famous foie gras with pine-nut brittle. None of it was easy, but it was rewarding for those who were able to dedicate the time and effort, and, for others, it was inspirational, opening up new ways of thinking.
The recipes are superb, but the opening of the mind and the palate to sensations that were at once familiar and surprising has made Momofuku more than just a cookbook, and we predict its durability and its openness to adventure will keep it on the shelf of those few books that will be with us—in print or out—for a long time to come.
Chang has since that time opened (and closed) many new restaurants in a variety of formats all around the world, has published further books, and has had a run as a television personality. That first cookbook, though, was the springboard for his style and his influence, and we are pleased to be able to offer it here. Issued without dust jacket, our copy is Fine in all respects. This is a first printing, signed by both Chang and Meehan. They have also illustrated an attractive Christmas tree between their signatures, the ink of which has made an impression on the facing (blank) page.