Yadda Yadda, David Chang, Yadda Yadda, Momofuku, Yadda Yadda, Ramen Noodles, Yadda Yadda…
These were the wild snipits of online conversation my brain was processing on the week that Chef David’s Chang’s much lauded franchise opened in Toronto. Social Media was abuzz (I’m sure people talked about it in person too) about the cities excitement and anticipation for this world famous chef’s first Canadian enterprise. Momofuku Noodle Bar announced its opening just a few hours before the doors opened and without a doubt eager fans lined up down the block to get their first taste.
I wanted to give Chef Chang some space so to speak and had no intention on waiting in line with the rabid crowds (eyes like werewolves) desperate to be one of the first to share highly saturated instagram shots of steaming noodle bowls. I can’t even imagine the pressure Chef Chang has to endure when launching into a new city. I wanted to give his team a good amount of time to get themselves running like a well oiled machine before showing up for dinner.
I visited the Noodle Bar on two separate occasions so that I could order the majority of the menu without feeling bloated. On my first visit I was very impressed with the professional #powpowpow of service which just by observing from my seat seemed like a restaurant that had already been opened for several years. The space is open concept (really just one large room) with sky high ceilings.
This first visit took place shortly after the restaurant had opened in early October. I was joined by my good friend Sarah and chose Momofuku as a perfect spot to grab a quick dinner before reviewing Il Trovatore by The Canadian Opera Company just across the street at the Four Seasons Centre.
My second visit took place in late November with my friend Malcolm. Toronto had experienced its first “light dusting of snow,” and felt it was a perfect day to wrap myself in Canadian Goose and slurp down a bowl of piping hot ramen.
I have of course heard mixed reviews. People seem to really enjoy the simple menu and efficient service. I’ve heard a few comment that they felt the prices were steeper than the competition. I did a price comparison at a few of the other top ramen spots in the city and while I do agree that Momofuku’s bowls are a dollar or two more I think we can all appreciate the hefty rent Chef Chang is paying beside the Shangrila. So for me personally the price point is justified, the service is always smiling and efficient and the dishes are well presented and flavourful.
I have heard a few people complain that they feel as though they are being whisked through their meal. Some have expressed frusteration that they expected a nice leisurely dinner and ended up finshing in under an hour. Momofuku Noodle Bar is not a fine dining restaurant. Chef Chang has created an open concept restaurant where strangers grab chopsticks together and share their slurping and smiles at communal tables. Noodle Bars in Japan and Korea are most often situated in busy train stations where people can grab a quick bite before rushing home. Noodle Bar has created a perfect spot for those downtown to grab a quick dinner before the ballet or a late night bite before heading out in the Entertainment District. If you are looking for a more intimate experience please book yourself a table on the third floor at Daisho.
I am certain Momofuku Noodle Bar will become an institution in the city. A perfect spot to grab a quick yet nourishing bite with friends. Chef Chang has been recognized around the world for celebrating and innovating Japanese and Korean flavours and textures on his menus. Momofuku Noodle Bar elevates the ramen experience and Toronto is better for it. I was so pleased with both of my experiences that Momofuku Noodle Bar now appears on my Toronto’s Top Restaurant list.
I enjoyed (* note my favorites)
Chicken Bun *
hoisin, scallion, cucumber
Ginger Scallion Noodle Bowl
shiitakes, cucumber, cabbage
Roasted Rice Cakes *
red chilli, onion, sesame
Momofuku Ramen *
pork belly and shoulder, fish cake, egg
Chilled Spicy Noodles *
sichuan sausage, spinach, cashews, beans
Smoked Chicken Wings
pickled chili, garlic, scallion