I have never been to Momofuku. I’ve been curious about Momofuku since they first opened, and Momofuku owner and chef David Chang’s constantly rising stardom just made me more and more curious. I’ve been to New York countless times, but there is so much great ramen there that somehow, I’ve just never made it there. So imagine my excitement when I happened to be in Las Vegas a week after Momofuku Las Vegas opened.
Momofuku is located in the Cosmopolitan hotel, on the 2nd level by the chandelier bar where all the restaurants are. Don’t be deterred by the lack of signage in the hotel lobby though. It’s not listed on the sign next to the escalator, and the video directory on the wall still lists them as “Coming Soon”, but rest assured, they’re open, and there’s a Momofuku Milk Bar right next door (where you can get some tasty desserts).
At first, I was a bit disappointed (but maybe a little relieved too) that they ran out of the truffle ramen (which costs almost $60!), but I decided to use the money I “saved” to order a few side dishes. The waitress recommended the soft boiled eggs (she helpfully told me that even though I lost out on the truffle ramen, I could add caviar and truffle crème to the eggs as a consolation prize for just $75! What a deal!), so I ordered that (…well, minus the caviar and truffle crème), plus a shishito peppers appetizer.
The gussied up soft boiled eggs come with smoked trout roe and crispy rice. It’s tasty, though I wish the yolk was a little less well done. The contrasting texture of the roe, the soft boiled egg white, and the crunchy rice was great.
The shishito peppers was a simple dish but it was also great. The smoked salt and lime went very well with the lightly roasted peppers. I had enough left over for breakfast. Even cold, shishito peppers and coffee…hmm…tasty.
Finally, the pork ramen! There’s some green onion, some shredded pork shoulder, a slice of naruto, a poached egg, and a big slice of pork belly. The soup had a nice smoky and clean flavor to it with a bit of bonito flavor. According to their recipe, the soup should have more of a bacon and chicken flavor, but to me, it tasted more of pork and fish. Maybe the recipe changed. The chewy al dente noodles did a great job soaking up the smoky fishyness of the soup. The poached egg was delicious but a bit cold. And the pork and chashu? Hmm…the shredded pork didn’t seem to add much to the overall flavor. I mean, it was good pork, but it was just so neutral compared to the rest of the ramen. The chashu was as thick as a slice of brownie, and there’s a slight char to it. It was tasty, but “only” good when I was hoping for great.
The overall effect was like a too-balanced ramen…”balanced” to the point where nothing stood out. I would’ve been perfectly happy if they left out the pork shoulder and simplified the ramen so it was just noodles, green onions, and soup. That would’ve been really good. There’s a wonderful smokiness in the soup that really comes out with the noodles, but it gets absorbed a bit by the pork.
There’re so many really great ramen shops in Vegas. Unfortunately, Momofuku doesn’t really stand out. Come for the shishito peppers and then get a compost cookie or two at their Milk Bar next door, and maybe stay for the truffle ramen?