Open to Interpretation: Momofuku, Ramen & Lucky Peach

Written by in Profiles

Z Dee-fi-nysheon of “Momofuku”:
In New York: “Delicious Cheap Noodle Place”
In Tokyo: “Instant Ramen Noodle”

Lucky Peach is a new gourmet and [very good!] graphics print journal that nobody asked for, but apparently we need.

{By Katelyn Bottoms of Atlanta} David Chang, the editor and chef-restaurateur of the Big Apple’s Momofuku, doesn’t call Lucky Peach a magazine. It’s an “issue slash episode”.  It began as an idea for television, but after a few crazy left turns, it wound up in print. The app has been “coming soon” for months. Who knows exactly what it is, or what it might become? And that’s where the medium and the Lucky Peach message meet.



Too often, Chang says throughout Lucky Peach, we get comfortable. It starts with predictable days at work, fueled by the same-old, same-old for breakfast. And for lunch. And for…well, you get the idea. Where will the splash of cold water come from, just when we need it?

The humble ramen noodle seems an unlikely candidate. Yet Chang and his culinary, opinionated sidekick Anthony Bourdain certainly make the case, devoting the 176-page inaugural issue to something college students consider an entire food group. At five for a buck, wrapped in plastic, it’s cheap and quick  – hardly the cuisine Chang and Bourdain are known for.


But, as we voracious voyeurs learn, delicious and no-frills has its advantages. During WWII, the Japanese fed their population on ramen. America, on the other hand, settled for SPAM. Guess who won that culinary battle?

Ramen served the purpose of sustaining people through disaster. Now, through Lucky Peach, Chang is simply renewing the noodle’s mission in a different era, for a different problem. Today, adversity comes in many forms, but nobody says it has to be self-imposed on the dinner plate.

It’s a simple fact we can’t exist without food. But why allow necessity to suck the adventure out of us? Lucky Peach challenges us to stretch ourselves beyond the cultural comfort zones. If we accept, we’ll feel what we’ve really been hungry for – a life-affirming pulse.



Momofuku Ando gave us instant ramen. Chang gave us perfect ramen.
That floaty thing most uncommon?
Don’t ask, just eat and say “Amen.”

The revolution may not be televised. Just initially conceived as something televised – and revealed, thankfully, on pages we can read while savoring a bowl of instant ramen gnocchi parisienne.


David Chang in one of his numerous NYC kitchens
photo by Gabriele Stablie from


[click me, to see Chang’s side of the story.]

*The debate rages on Wikipedia:  David Chang’s Noodle Bar, Momofuku, means “lucky peach”.

It’s also a nod to Momofuku Ando, the Japanese inventor who gave us instant noodles.

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  1. 09
    Neenah Paper said:

    Man can live on ramen alone. Agree?

  2. 09

    […] wrote this piece for Neenah Paper’s blog, Against the Grain. TagsAnthony Bourdain, David Chang, Lucky Peach, Momofuku, […]