Momofuku’s long-awaited Ssäm Bar revamp is finally here. The lauded restaurant — which relocated to Bar Wayō’s former spot in the South Street Seaport last year — has been hosting preview dinners in advance of a full opening to the public slated for Thursday, April 22, an on-site employee tells Eater New York. Another Momofuku Group employee, who requested anonymity to project their job, confirmed the projected opening date.
Chef Eunjo Park, who formerly led the now-closed Momofuku restaurant Kāwi in Hudson Yards, is spearheading Ssäm Bar’s debut in the historic waterfront district — and Kāwi’s influences appear to be making their way into Ssäm Bar’s revival. The menu handed out at the restaurant this past weekend nods to some of Park’s celebrated hits at Kāwi, including dressed-up kimbap offerings such as a wagyu beef tartare preparation, and a selection of rice cakes including spicy pork sausage ragu and cacio e pepe.
Ssäm Bar’s reopening has been in the works for nearly a year. Momofuku announced last May that the company was shutting down nine-month-old Bar Wayō at South Street Seaport in order to uproot Ssäm Bar from its 15-year-old home in the East Village and transplant it into the downtown development. Momofuku restaurateur David Chang called Ssäm Bar an “incredibly profitable” restaurant at the time, but its East Village lease was up and it didn’t make sense to address all the costly repairs to the building in the middle of the pandemic.
During its boisterous East Village run, Ssäm Bar was a crowd-favorite spot frequented by industry regulars and food media types. It is credited in part with popularizing the large format, family-style feasts — including a trendy fried chicken dinner — that are now found in restaurants across Momofuku’s empire.
At the Seaport location, under Park’s leadership, Momofuku likely hopes to merge Ssäm Bar’s legacy with the momentum that Park was in the process of building at Kāwi, which closed to customers after ten months due to the pandemic. In its short run, Kāwi garnered critical acclaim for its modern Korean menu, including a three-star review from Eater New York critic Ryan Sutton, and a two-star review from Pete Wells at the New York Times. The company just announced last month that Kāwi had permanently shut down, along with its adjacent quick-service stall Peach Mart in Hudson Yards. Momofuku’s Chelsea restaurant Nishi permanently shut down last May. The original Noodle Bar and Ko remain open in the East Village, as well as the Columbus Circle location of Noodle Bar.
Update, 3:10 p.m.: A representative for Momofuku confirmed the Thursday opening with Eater New York.
Additional reporting by Bao Ong
Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.