It began with an email subject line: Tomorrow – 1 a.m. Momofuku/Zahav pop-up. Are you free?  

Having no impending plans at 1 a.m. on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning?), I replied YES. And so, the planning and slight anxiety of how one stays up until 1 a.m. on a school night without alcohol or illegal substances ensued. My 1 a.m. dinner campaign motto was to  “keep it moving” (oh but it should have been “Don’t Stop” #Clinton92).

At 8:30 p.m., I popped by Bobwhite Lunch Counter near my apartment for a light dinner of fried chicken, fried okra — merely a vessel for hot sauce — a buffalo chicken sandwich (can I get a hell yea?), biscuits, mac and cheese and cheese grits. A normal pre-dinner, dinner.

It was 10 p.m. now and I had three more hours to go until my second meal. Naturally, I thought a sugar high would be a great way to stay up, and so we strolled to Fresco for two huge scoops of peanut butter gelato on a cone and proceeded to kill time by stooping it in the East Village and discussing “leg day” a.k.a.: the first warm day where ladies go bare legged.

After an hour of trying to eat my cone while simultaneously playing “do, dump or marry” while people watching (hey, I was doing what I could to keep mentally alert), my friend had pointed out I had not even come close to finishing my ice cream and I was oddly holding onto the cone and letting it melt all over my hand.

I may have been full, but I did my best to soldier on and went home at 12:30 a.m. drank a shot of espresso, said a couple of Hail Mary’s and met friends at the Momofuku / Zahav dinner where we dined on 16 different dishes and I tucked into bed at 4 a.m.  

Zahav is a seriously cool Philadelphia restaurant run by Michael Solomonov. Read our interview. Is this a hint at things to come in New York? It’s hard to tell. But here are some of the highlights from the Late Night Dinner Series featuring Zahav at Momofuku Ssam Bar:

Crispy haloumi with dates, walnuts, apples: I don’t love any of these ingredients individually but they came together in harmony and were a perfect blend of sweet and salty. 

Kibbe naya with sumac shallots, lettuce, crispy freekah: A refreshing lamb tartar wrapped in lettuce leaves with wonderful Middle Eastern flavors. A great departure from what we think is “traditional” beef tartar. 

Sable, challah, fried egg, poppy: It’s breakfast for dinner. Breaking into the runny egg and having it pour over the salty sable and then creating the perfect bite was a highlight of the meal. Also, why don’t people use poppy seeds more often?

Whole-roasted lamb shoulder: Inspired the question: which came first, the Bo Ssam or this dish? This is a Zahav signature and worth the 99 mile drive down to Philly from NYC alone. It also inspired various high fives, low fives and fist pumps. Never has such a large piece of meat been so tender and lamb-y. I’ll be going back to Philly for this dish.

Drinks served included Tiger Beer, a Lemonnana cocktail (bourbon, muddled mint, lemon, verbena) and a glass of 2010 Tzora (Israeli) wine with the lamb course. 

Not sure how I made it to dessert, but it included halvah mousse, hazelnut and date rugelach and an awesome parting gift: donuts from Federal Donuts in Philly.

Ok, Momofukuans, when’s the next Late Night Dinner Series???