David Chang’s new takeout joint serves big ‘Bang’ for your buck

Bang Bar, David Chang’s Korean-inspired takeout lunch spot on the third floor of the Time Warner Center, finally opened last week after months of anticipation. The basically one-dish menu’s terrific and cheap. But as an on-the-go alternative to the building’s pricey sit-down eateries, count on the Momofuku mogul to make it anything but easy.

Tiny Bang Bar’s glassed-in kitchen turns out spit-roasted meats rolled into griddled, house-made flatbread that’s folded into a U-shaped tube — hence its name, “the U.” Spicy pork and chicken options are plenty for a standard-size human and only $5.79.

The meats are sliced from vertical spits like those in a gyro joint, but their juicy sheen tells you they’ll taste a lot better. The shoulder pork is marinated in gochujang (Korean red-chili paste) and sliced ultrathin. It melts in your mouth and tingles on your tongue.

Chicken was thicker-cut and relatively bland. Mild sauce and yakitori glaze didn’t do much for it. But spicy ssam sauce and hotter habanero sauce on the side lent a needed kick.

The only other lunch items are spicy eggplant and chickpea dips served with thicker-sliced flatbread ($2.99). The latter’s sunny medley of braised chickpeas, sesame and lemon is just the thing to beat the early-darkness blues.

A mortadella-and-American cheese wrap ($3.99 at breakfast only, 8 to 11 a.m.) “makes no sense whatsoever but I think it’s delicious,” as Chang accurately put it on Instagram.

Sinfully gooey and rich, it blows away most any croissant, croque monsieur or banh mi using the same basic ingredients. Thin slices of lardo are tucked between mortadella slices for extra-fatty pleasure. Spicy mustard kicks in as well. You’ll need strong Vietnamese coffee ($3.49) after it to tackle the day ahead.

Bang Bar wouldn’t be a Chang operation if it didn’t play hard-to-get. It shuts down around 1:30 p.m. or whenever they run out of meat or bread. There’s no place to sit — and no place to stand either, except for a pair of counters on the mall floor with room for maybe four upright noshers each.
Except at breakfast when I found little or no line, the Shake Shack-like, cashless ordering system can mean long waits at lunch.

Chang has said the U’s are inspired by dishes from Korea to Lebanon to Mexico. You might feel as if you flew that far in the time it takes to get fed.

The line to order takes “about 10 minutes for every seven or eight people ahead of you,” a manager told us — followed by another 10 minutes at the pickup counter. Watching the cooks merrily salting and squirting meat behind the glass only makes you more ravenous. But patience has its rewards.

Source: Read Full Article