DC is probably the most powerful city in the United States. It is our nation’s capital, home to a bunch of history and museums and obviously the epicenter of all things politics in the country. But we don’t necessarily think of DC as a food city.
When you think of food in the United States, you usually think of cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle. They are recognized as such because, in addition to being great cities to visit, they just seem to attract the best of the best when it comes to chefs.
Don’t get me wrong, DC definitely has its fair share of reputable chefs. We’ve got reality TV chefs like Mike Isabella, Spike Mendelsohn and Bryan Voltaggio from the popular Top Chef. But we’ve also got a couple of chefs on a higher echelon in the form of José Andrés, Daniel Boulud and Michael White, who are world renowned for their Spanish, French and Italian cuisine, respectively.
But there’s a new star chef coming to town and he goes by the name of David Chang. If you haven’t heard of him, maybe you’ve heard of Momofuku. That’s the restaurant empire that he created and it’s a pretty big deal. His restaurants can be found in New York, Toronto and Sydney.
Just to list some of his accomplishments he’s got two Michelin stars, won multiple James Beard awards, has restaurants listed consistently on S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants and was included in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010.
So why would he come to DC? Well, the answer stems from the fact that he grew up in the area. He’s always wanted to bring his success home and he’s finally done it. For all you basketball fans out there this is basically on par with LeBron returning to Cleveland. Both are superstars in their own right and both want to bring their greatness back home.
So really the only thing we can do now is wait for greatness to ensue because Chang will undoubtedly bring a new landscape to cuisine in the nation’s capital.
The Mind Behind the Momofuku Empire
The name alone evokes an air of whimsy about it. The Japanese word “momofuku,” translates to “lucky peach.” The word itself looks very similar to, you know, that word. From this alone you can tell Chang has got a sense of humor, intentionally choosing Momofuku because of this nature.
Aside from having a humorous personality, Chang exudes a passion for food. His style of cuisine is very much Asian-inspired, often using ingredients like kimchi and miso on his menu. What sets him apart is his combination of these ingredients with French technique.
His cuisine ranges from the comfort foods of Asia found at his first establishment, Momofuku Noodle Bar, to the fine dining restaurants that earned him his Michelin stars at Momofuku Ko, to the hugely popular dessert spot Momofuku Milk Bar. You can only expect this greatness to continue because his passion for food continues to spur his growing empire.
Ramen, Steamed Buns and More
Starting from humble beginnings, Chang’s Momofuku was born through the foods he found comfort in – ramen and steamed buns. These foods gained a cult following once people found this treasure when Chang’s restaurant first opened in New York. His focus when he first opened Momofuku Noodle Bar was that he wanted a space that provided him with a creative outlet to cook what he loved.
Obviously this worked out, and to this day ramen and steamed buns have been a mainstay to what makes up Momofuku’s DNA. We can definitely expect these two foods to make their way to DC.
Forget about Cupcakes, We Got Crack Pie
In addition to a Momofuku restaurant coming to the capital, Momofuku Milk Bar will also be making its debut. Momofuku’s pastry chef Christina Tosi, another native from the area, is highly recognized around the country for her creative pastries.
The fad of cupcakes won’t be found here because the baked goods at Milk Bar will bring you back to your childhood with a definite twist that you would never have even thought of. From tasty goodies like compost cookies, soft serve ice cream and cake truffles to the ever popular cereal milk or even the addicting crack pie, you won’t find a treat you won’t fall in love with.
Expect Greatness in DC
So even though we know Chang will be expanding to DC, there is no word on what type of restaurant he expects to open. It is still very much a mystery and at this point any news about the project is complete conjecture. What we can expect is something great. Everything he’s done thus far has been well received by foodies and critics alike and the fact that he is taking Momofuku back home should be an indication of a much anticipated success.
I wouldn’t consider DC an obvious food destination just yet, but the addition of Momofuku definitely adds a couple of points to our progress bar towards foodie city status.