Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

David Chang

The cold pink fluff looks like cotton candy and seems entirely tasteless. But soon it begins to melt, seducing your mouth with such creamy richness, it is impossible not to gasp. Beside it sits a fragrant fruit, smooth as pearls.

Only David Chang would grate frozen foie gras and serve it with lychees.

When Chang, 32, opened Momofuku in New York in 2004, he reinvented the casual restaurant and changed the game. Turning his back on the high-end kitchens in which he had been working, he started off with a bare-bones place his peers could afford. At first he offered a few simple dishes — pork buns so soft they practically swallowed themselves and memorable ramen made with organic ingredients — but Chang soon began pushing the boundaries, combining a passion for Asian food with his classic European training and serving the kind of challenging dishes once relegated to expensive establishments. He trusted his customers — who trusted him. Whipped tofu with sea urchins and tapioca? Bring it on!

The profane, irreverent Momofuku cookbook, published last fall, brings Chang's exuberant style right into your kitchen. What he's feeding is an appetite for adventure, and the ride has just begun.

Reichl, a former restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, was the last editor of Gourmet magazine

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See recipes from David Chang's restaurants.