David Chang tries Turkish
His new place doesn’t call itself a kebab joint but it certainly offers a little Turkish flavour to New York
David Chang has never been one for respecting national borders. The Korean-American chef grew up in Maryland, trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York, worked for a while in Japan, before returning to America to make his name with his Momofuku restaurants, serving, among other dishes, Japanese ramen noodle bowls and gua bao-style Chinese buns.
When he visited Massimo Bottura in Italy for his Netflix series Ugly Delicious, Chang teased Bottura by saying his tortellini were really little wontons in disguise; Massimo took the joke in good faith, but it’s clear that for Chang, taste respects no boundaries.
So what should we make of Bāng Bar, his new Turkish-kebab style venture in Columbus Circle, New York? Chang has described the venture as “bread made to order and meats you can slice in the moment, inspired by Lebanon, Turkey, the Middle East, Japan, Korea, and Mexico.”
He trailed the place on Instagram, by posting a rotating vertical spit of chicken meat, basted in yakitori sauce, and the national identifiers “🇺🇸 🇯🇵 🇹🇷 🇱🇧” for the US, Japan, Turkey and Lebanon.
The debt to Turkey seems most pronounced, with kebab-style pork and chicken meat cooked on an upright, skewer style rotisserie served in a flat bread (bāng means 'bread' in Korean). However, the American flavour creeps in too. In the New York Times recent review, restaurant critic Pete Wells reviewed the place, writing that he respects Bāng Bar’s creators for “realizing that the proper garnish for caramelized mortadella shavings is a slice of yellow American cheese and hot mustard.”
It seems like the great melting pot of New York has the kebab shop it deserves. Want to know more about Turkish food? For a deeper dive into Turkish cuisine, including plenty of kebab house specials, order a copy of The Turkish Cookbook.