How does David Chang describe his cooking?
I think the food we cook at our restaurants, at Momofuku, is a little bit eclectic; it’s all over the place. Then obviously there’s an Asian bent, but not really. I mean, we’re sitting here at Ssäm Bar, where the menus have country hams from Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. We have crudo. We have roast ducks that are stuffed in a very, very Chinese/French way. It’s all over the place. For me, it was a discovery from when I opened Noodle Bar. Instead of trying to be authentic, instead of trying to fit into a category, let’s reverse-engineer the process.
There are French restaurants uptown that are using more Asian ingredients than we are, but nobody says that they’re Asian — they’re French because they have French chefs and there’s a French name on the door. I think that most people are stuck in the realm of having to categorize stuff, and I think that limits your ability to make delicious food. It’s like, “We’re trying to make delicious food that’s affordable.” We want people to leave the restaurant being like, “Wow, that was really worth it. It was worth the hype. I wanted to go in hating it, but I left loving it.”
So that’s the goal. Whatever we need to do to get to that point, that’s what our food is going to be. And that’s a constantly evolving, changing, dynamic variable. It’s not easy to describe our food, so sometimes I just say, “It�s American food.” That raises the eyebrows of some people.