Food & Drink

The pork buns and butts that changed the East Village

Photo: Andrew HuffJust because David Chang is a household name and Momofuku restaurants are popping up in Toronto and Sydney like unwanted boners in a 6th grade math class doesn't mean his New York locations have lost any juice. And of all the Manhattan editions, none so seamlessly meshes refined cooking with an egalitarian attitude as Ssam Bar, a wood-decked sleeve on the corner of 12th St and 2nd Ave that has been luring in customers ever since it began life as a Chipotle-esque Korean burrito assembly line.Photo: MarianTheFoodieThe pork buns that set Chang's career on fire -- two fat-riddled slices of belly counterbalanced with tangy hoisin sauce, cooling cucumber, a sprinkling of scallions, and a perfectly sweet steamed bun -- are always on the menu, while those looking to stuff their buns otherwise will usually find fillers like fried shrimp cakes and brisket.Photo: Fresh Local and BestWhile a meal here will devastate your dreams of becoming the next Muscles from Brussels, these sprouts are worth, saturated in a blend of fish sauce, rice wine vinegar & sugar, and topped with Thai chili, mint and fried rice krispies.Photo: Never Too Sweet For MeAnother stand-by: spicy pork sausage and rice cakes w/ fried shallots & scallions.If you've got a crew of 3-6 and can plan far enough ahead in advance, grab a ressie for a whole roasted L.I. duck, whose skin is stuffed with duck & pork sausage before being rotisserie cooked.Photo: FoodComas.comConversely, you could rub it in that duck-eating table's faces that you have twice as many friends as they do, and instead reserve the Bo Ssam: a Niman Ranch pork butt that's roasted for up to 8 hours with brown sugar and salt.Photo: The Insatiable PalateIt'll arrive at your table with kimchi, bbq & ginger scallion sauces, white rice, and oysters, which you can load into lettuce wraps along with the shredded pork, a kingly meal that'll ensure nobody ever wants your boners.