Located in a three-story glass building adjacent to the newly built Shangri-La hotel, David Chang’s famous Momofuku chain arrives in Toronto at last. The building houses Momofuku Noodle Bar, Nikai (the bar and lounge), Daishö which features “large format meals” meant for parties of four to ten and Shōtō which only serves a $150 tasting menu.
Momofuku Noodle Bar was the first to open and shortly after doing so, it wasn’t unusual to see a long line snaking out the door. However, since then the crowds have certainly died down. I visited the Noodle Bar a second time on a Friday evening and didn’t wait longer than 5 minutes.
The Noodle Bar is located on the ground floor of the glass building and only has communal and bar seating. It’s not very comfortable and since you’re sitting on stools there isn’t very much storage (you ladies who also have large purses and big coats can certainly relate), it’s best to get in and out quickly. The service is prompt and the food is served fast which makes it easy to do so.
We started with the ever so famous Pork Buns – with hoisin, scallion & cucumber ($10). One order came with two white buns sandwiching pieces of juicy pork belly. The hoisin sauce provided the bun with a little sweetness and the cucumber gave it all a nice crunch. Similar to my sentiments in New York (see my New York post here), I thought they tasted fine… but nothing mind blowing. If you’re not feeling the pork, other bun options include chicken and shiitake.
On my first visit to the Toronto location, I gave the Momofuku Ramen – pork belly & shoulder, fish cake, egg ($15) a try. I’m not sure what I was thinking…I must’ve been suffering from memory loss since I didn’t like the Momofuku ramen in New York either.
The noodles and meat were fine and the egg was perfectly cooked. But the broth was simply disappointing and couldn’t be overlooked. With so many other ramen options in the city (with many more to come), I wouldn’t come to Momofuku for ramen.
On a second visit, I opted for the Chilled Spicy Noodles – Sichuan sausage, black bean, cashews ($14) instead of the ramen. There was another dish called the “very spicy noodles” but seeing as I don’t have a high spice tolerance, I just settled on the “spicy” noodles.
It was a substantial portion of noodles which was composed like a salad. The chilled ramen noodles were sitting underneath chunks of sausage, spinach leaves and candied cashews. The components were tossed in a spicy black bean sauce and overall I found it to be a solid dish but nothing special.
For something a little snacky, we tried the Smoked Chicken Wings – pickled chili, garlic, scallions ($12). They were crispy, juicy and glazed in a sticky soy sauce. They were just okay… not something I’d order again.
The last dish I tried from Momofuku Noodle Bar was the Roasted Rice Cakes – red chili, onions and sesame ($11). Sure, the value of this dish isn’t great but the rice cakes were damn good! I liked that some of them were a little crisp on the outside while they were perfectly chewy on the inside. The sauce was the a little sweet and spicy and the addition of the caramelized onions were a nice touch.
Overall, I can’t say it disappointed me…but that’s only because of my less-than-stellar experience at the Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a good bowl of ramen, I don’t think you’d leave Momofuku satisfied.
At a glance:
• Located in a three-story glass building next to the Shangri-La
• One of four Momofuku restaurants in the building
• If you’re looking for a good bowl of ramen, there are better options in the city
• Crowded, communal seating
• Food is served quickly
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 2 stars