I just had dinner with a friend at the Momofuku Noodle Bar in Toronto. I did not have patience to wait in line for the noodle bar in New York, but I did have dinner at Momofuku Tsam and a little dessert at the Milk Bar while I was there last year. My friend was recently at the Momofuku in New York and we were both interested to see what it was like in Toronto.
It’s a loud, bustling atmosphere with a modern dining room in Toronto. Momofuku noodle bar is very well executed fast food. We really saw that in action while sitting at the bar in front of where the food was being assembled. The shrimp fried rice looked pretty enticing as it was being put together. We did not get to try it, as our server forgot to tell us about the specials, because I distracted him with my questions about the short menu. Service was quite attentive and informed throughout the restaurant, which I really appreciated. Apparently they serve only Tito’s vodka here and in New York and the bartender handled my grumbling with grace. It was a pleasant experience to wait in the upstairs bar area and overlook the busy restaurant below.
The brilliance of the noodle bar is in its small menu. David Chang has created a great formula for flavourful asian food and trained the staff well to execute on a focused list of food. The famous pork buns are assembled in volume and are the same as they are in New York. These buns are a great fast food take on Peking duck with its combination of tasty animal fat, sweet sauce, scallion and cucumber in a bun. The ramen comes in a broth that has flavour depth and an egg that is specially slow poached in the combi oven. Special egg poaching technique seems to be a current food trend. We tried a sous vide ‘poached’ duck egg at Peller Estates this summer where the egg texture was the same throughout the white and yolk.
The Momofuku brand has a lot of potential to expand further with its fun atmosphere and tasty food that can be replicated. The food here is more exciting than the UK chain Wagamama. However, my favourite asian influenced restaurants remain Mission Chinese in San Francisco for its amazingly spiced food and Foxley in Toronto for its bold and unique flavours.