The Signature Dish David Chang Credits For His Restaurant Success

If David Chang is known for any one dish, it's arguably his signature pork buns — even though the chef himself never expected it. In an interview with NPR in 2009, Chef David Chang described his surprise at the success of his pork buns recipe, as the inclusion was a late addition to his menu at Momofuku. The following year, he admitted to The Guardian, "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for pork belly."

Inspired by a restaurant in New York City's Chinatown, Chang wanted to add something to his menu that could make use of the pork not included in his more commonly served bowls of ramen. Since then, steamed buns have become stars in their own right, evolving into such a sensation that Momofuku sends out 12-packs of the buns for cooks to prepare for themselves at home. "I didn't anticipate it ever being as wildly successful as it is, but they're sort of addictive," Chang told NPR.

Serving a lasting impression

Momofuku's pork buns have since spawned a pork buns craze, with restaurants placing similar pork buns on their own menus, with fluffy, soft pieces of bread stuffed with an assortment of meat and vegetables like mushrooms. At-home chefs have tried to make their own at home, with YouTube tutorials offering guidance on how the steamed recipe could be made using pickles, scallions, and juicy pieces of pork belly.

"It's soft. It's unctuous. It has a burst of fat flavor from the salty pork belly, and then it's got this cool, crunchy texture from the pickled cucumbers and the sweetness in the hoisin sauce," Chang explained to NPR. "They just are salty sweet and sandwiched between a soft, pillowy, steamed bread." With food writers wondering when they might get another taste of the addictively chewy buns, it is no wonder Chang's star dish has demonstrated true staying power.