Call up three to five of your closest friends, because you’ll need their help to tackle chef Max Ng’s newest offering at the popular Manhattan mainstay, Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Ng is now serving up seven pounds of king crab once per night on Mondays through Wednesdays in a three-course feast.
The king crab dinner is like a flavor-packed little brother to Ssäm Bar’s large format feasts for 11 to 15 people; bo ssäm (pork shoulder), dry-aged rib eye, and whole rotisserie duck. In the smaller-scale weeknight meal, Ng, a Singapore native, is showcasing his hometown flavors, in addition to hitting Malaysian and Chinese notes.
“Momofuku Ssäm Bar has always been known to be a meat-centric restaurant, especially for their large format feasts,” Ng said. “We really wanted to bring a great seafood-driven large format meal to the menu.”
In the first course of the newest menu addition, whole king crab legs are served poached in shio kombu butter, grilled, and served with lettuce and shiso leaf (they’re for wrapping the crabmeat, the Korean-style ssäm referenced in the restaurant’s name; it means wrapped). There are also various condiments, brown-butter fish sauce and Singapore-style chili sauce among them, in addition to yuzu kosho olive oil, fresh horseradish remoulade, and Chinese white prune salt.
Course two is made up of the body of the king crab, which is steamed and batter fried before it’s finished with a salted duck yolk sauce. Finally, Ng has put together a version of his grandmother’s “secret Kuala Lumpur–style hokkien noodles.” They feature crab knuckles and claws in addition to mushrooms and broccoli.
“The third course is the one that means the most to me,” Ng said. “We only get to eat it on special occasions at my grandma’s house, with the whole family around the table.”
Ssäm Bar founder David Chang is fresh off a James Beard Nomination for best new restaurant for his West Coast debut, Majordomo. Ssäm Bar was a New York Times critic’s pick in 2017, when the Gray Lady crowed that the restaurant “mounted a guerrilla attack on the dining establishment, and it won before anybody quite knew what was going on.”
With this much crab on offer and beverage pairings from the restaurant’s beverage manager Charlotte Berdensey, who’ll work individually with each party to determine drinks, it appears the battle continues apace.
The king crab dinner is bookable now on Resy and will run you about $65 per person. Reservations must be made at least two days in advance.