momofuku noodle bar
190 University Avenue
(University, just north of Adelaide)
Toronto, ON M5H 0A3
Ah, momofuku. Beloved by New Yorkers, food lovers, and hipsters and Koreans (and hipster Koreans). I met up with a friend for lunch at its new noodle bar in Toronto which opened in September after a late launch and with much anticipation. The noodle bar is amongst a total of four momofuku restaurants residing beside the new Shangri-La Hotel on University Avenue, including daishō, shōtō, and nikai.
daishō, meaning “pair of swords”, is located on the third floor of the momofuku complex and serves large-format meals and sharing plates. This means that parties of four to ten guests share dishes meant for multiple consumers that are similar to that of momofuku’s ssäm bar in New York. Menu items in NYC’s Ssäm Bar includes whole roasted pork (“bo ssäm”) and “raw bar” items such as Santa Barbara Uni. Shōtō, which translates as “short sword”, is similar to momofuku’s ko in NYC with tasting menus. nikai, which translates into “second floor”, is indeed above the Noodle Bar on the second floor, and is a bar and a lounge.
The noodle bar is located on the ground floor of the momofuku complex and is quite a casual affair, though you can see that the restaurant is a tightly run ship. Service was excellent with the servers and food runners coordinating perfectly with frequent visits to the table to refill water and ask if we required assistance. The crowd on the Friday lunch hour were mostly of the business type, though of the less formal breed. My friend and I ordered three items to share: The Shiitake Buns, the Ginger Scallion Noodle Bowl, and the Roasted Rice Cakes which is a take on the popular Korean street food ddeokbokki. These items were sent to our table as they were prepared, and we enjoyed all the dishes, which looked exactly like how they do in the momofuku cookbooks. However, our three items of choice ended up being a joint attack of copious amounts shiitake mushrooms and sesame oil to the mouth. Not that we were complaining.
I also appreciated the design of the complex. As momofuku is a Korean-Japanese fusion initiative — David Chang, the owner, chef and founder is Korean-American, while “momofuku” means “lucky peach” in Japanese — the building is correspondingly contemporary and Asian-inspired. A beautiful sculpture by Chinese sculptor Zhang Huan adorns the exterior of the building, which is mainly constructed of glass panels, and the interior has an open kitchen and seating bar with pine and metal elements. I also loved the postcards that they attached to the bill with the momofuku peach symbol (photo at top of the post).
The Toronto location of the momofuku empire is the only second international location of momofuku, the other being in Sydney, Australia. So if you cannot make it to the New York City locations or make the journey Down Under, the Toronto momofuku is a sure bet. Only thing missing would be the dessert outpost, momofuku milk bar, only located in New York. For such specialities as soft serve cereal milk and blueberry bagel bomb, you will need to make the trek to the Big Apple.
Update: See photos of some of the dishes on a second visit on our Twitter account @flashbracket.