disclaimer: cell phone photos. please don’t judge. i was in a hurry.
in early 2007, i was in new york with my friend angie, and we were visiting our mutual friend emily. em took us to ssäm bar — david chang’s newest restaurant — for lunch the day after we arrived.
i’m going to admit right here and now that i was a much less adventuresome eater back then. picky? not even close. but compared to now, when i’m willing to try/eat just about anything with the exception of tripe (which i’ve had and dislike) and nato, which i just can’t get behind. (something that has the consistency of snot and smells like ammonia and really bad old cheese? i just can’t.)
i’m making you really hungry, right?
anyway, here i am at ssäm bar, staring at the build-your-own menu that is reminiscent of chipotle, and emily is trying to insist that i try the original ssäm. my comparison to chipotle is not crazy, just so you know. david’s ssäms (my crush on him means i get to call him by this first name) are essentially a korean riff on a burrito. you started with a tortilla, and went down the bar while the person behind the counter piles on what you request, wraps it up in tinfoil, and passes it off to you while you seat yourself. the beverage listed included regular and diet dr. pepper and bottled water.
i didn’t really want to try the original ssäm, i was being wimpy. i was looking at the list of possibilities and wanted to choose all the things i knew i liked. kimchi and pickled mushrooms wrapped up like a burrito in a flour tortilla did not sound like a sure bet to me and i was in new york, dammit, and was going to only put things in my mouth that were amazing. but in the end, i caved under peer pressure, and all i can say is that i thank god that emily challenged me in that moment, because i kind of think it changed my relationship with food forever.