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Momofuku Toronto


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#1 Broken English

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 11:56 PM

Noodle Bar finally opened on Wednesday, with Shoto opening tomorrow, and Daisho and Nikai opening soon after.

I managed to get to Noodle Bar last night with a friend I used to work with. We ate almost half the menu between the two of us.

I was really impressed, it is definately up to the standards of the NYC original, especially when you consider it's in its opening week. I'll be brief, because it's late and I've just come off a 12 hour shift.

Enough has been written about the pork buns, so I'll just say they're just as good.

The smoked chicken wings glazed in a fish sauce and chilli spiked caramel were sweet, rich and spicy, with a nice tang from the fish sauce ensuring they never became too rich.

Roasted rice cakes with chilli, onion and sesame were amazing, and a great lighter version of the pork sausage and crispy rice cakes on offer at Ssam Bar in NYC.

The Momofuku Ramen was on par with Noodle Bar NYC, good without being exceptional. The noodles, pork belly, sous vide egg and pulled pork were all cooked well, but the broth could have been hotter and the flavour of seaweed came on a little strong for me, masking the other flavours of the broth slightly.

The Chilled Spicy Noodles with pork sausage and honey roasted cashews and spinach was the dish of the night, the combinaton of the spicy cold noodles with the warm sausage and the sweetness and nuttiness from the cashews was unbelievably good. It'll be the first thing I order next time.

We were getting a little full by the time the Kimchi stew with pork shoulder and rice cakes came out, which was entirely our own fault. When we ordered, the waitress did warn us that it was a lot of food. It was also probably a little too hearty for the weather at the moment. Solid delicious though, the crunch of the kimchi and the tender strands of pulled pork proving a great partnership.

With a few beers each, the bill came to $115 before tip, which is pretty reasonable, and the pace at which the kitchen is pushing out food is impressive. If the keep up that level of quality, I can see them being packed for a long time to come.

Also nice to see David Chang observing service from the second floor balcony.

I actually have been talking to one of their executive sous chefs over the last month, he said as soon as the behind-the-scenes mania dies down, he'll get me in for an interview, so fingers crossed I'll be working there in a month or two.

Can't wait to see what you fellow eGulleters think when you check it out.

Edited by Broken English, 22 September 2012 - 12:09 AM.


#2 Kerry Beal

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 06:14 AM

Thanks for the heads up. Hope you get the job.

Wonder if they do lunch!

#3 Broken English

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 01:21 AM

Noodle Bar does lunch from 11.30 until 3 or 3.30 I'm pretty sure. Daisho, which just opened with Matt Blondin (Colborne Lane, Acadia) in charge only does dinner as far as I know.

Thanks, fingers crossed it happens soon.

#4 limitedtimeoffer

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:47 AM

This review was originally posted on another board chating about the same. It was removed since apparently the context about Japan was irrelevant. Therefore, I thought I would post it here and if the moderators do not think the same is also relevant by all means remove it. Some were also rather critical of the same but that was removed but hey, if you like it, you do, if not, so be it.

It was relating to how many were making comments about the noodles at Noodle Bar tending to equate style preference with quality in terms of review of Noodle Bar…

I have been to the Noodle Bar twice since it has been open, including, on the first day (sadly, I am in a picture or two on the Internets), and in my view, it is top top quality. Is it my most favorite style or ramen, no. Would I go back, absolutely. I will be at Shoto later this week (actually, tonight… ;-))

I rarely post on any food boards any longer but thought I would offer my 2 cents…sorry, but this also involves a little note about Kinton…probably relevant given many seem to compare the two…

I used to eat ramen a lot, it tapered off, but now I have been more interested in it. Probably the several recent trips to Japan has been the cause – a few months back most recently although I have been trying to figure out how to route via Japan for a business trip in India…it is probably not going to work out…

I was recently at this Ichiran location located in Hakata – http://www.ichiran.c...l/q_nakasu.html Those who know will know this the place with multiple levels where you sit by yourself in a booth and order by hand from behind a curtain after you have paid with your ticket and enjoy your ramen in privacy. Sort of feels like you are in a bad strip joint (well perhaps peep show as one poster corrected) from the 80s near Time Square where you put your quarters in and the window goes up….but I digress…except when you ring your bell here, some more noodles are swiftly brought by.

Also, went to the Nishidori location of Ippudo in Hakata http://www.ippudo.co.../nishidori.html I honestly tried to line up to the location in Times Square on my way home from Japan via HKG to compare a branch location with one actually in Hakata, but no way that was going to happen with the volume of people…it was kind of stupid, actually, how many people were waiting for Ramen…oh well, that is just my view…

Also, a few months ago, I was also at this place just outside of Kyoto station on Hachijo Dori that BLEW Ippudo and Ichiran away in terms of the style that I like…but I digress http://www.kyoto-raken.jp/index.html Kyoto Ramen Kenkyuujo (laboratory) for your reference – it’s nice to have Japanese friends that can translate for you and find out where you have been after the fact.

Also, went to Menya Kookai in Venus Fort, Odaiba in Tokyo…why I was there was cuz I was at Toyota MegaWeb…broth is pork and chicken bone based.

I also went to a few other places on my trip. I am sure a few have been to these places (they are on the tourist track)… two places at Kyoto ramen alley, namely Sumire (miso based from Sapporo and uses solid cubes of pork fat as chashu - http://www.sumireya.com/ ) and Ramen Todai from Tokushima (of course, eggs free on tables to crack and counter balance the richness of the broth) - http://ramen-todai.com/ . On a prior trip, we were at Komurasaki (Kumamoto – boy do I love cooked garlic as a topping and so characteristically Kumamoto) http://www.komurasaki.com/ and Eki http://www.junren.co.jp/ (Sapporo - http://www.raumen.co...e/shop/eki.html ) , both at the ShinYokohama Ramen museum. I think Eki was the mother of the two brothers, one of which started Sumire – I cannot tell but from here, it is that http://www.raumen.co...shop/eki01.html Eki and Sumire are related and the Ramen certainly is very similar. I have finally convinced my wife that Miso ramen is the best… Finally, I was at this place called Shiodome Ramen a few years back but on my most recent trip, it appeared to be closed this time… All in all, I would say in the last 5 years, I have probably been to about 25 ramen places in Japan.

In any case, I had walked by the Shangrila on the 15th and noticed they must have had something going on and were close to opening. I had read they had come to town but I had not been stalking their every moment. I knew that I would be there more than a few times in the next few months as it became the it place to be…and it will be, the hotel also…in fact, many companies have started having receptions there and the patio that overlooks University is great.

I had been 4 times to Kinton since it opened…in fact, yesterday (sorry, this was on Sunday Sept 23) also so I will thrown a review of it also with my Noodle Bar one below first.…arrived at Kinton just after it opened and went right in. I wonder if places will ever just get the vending machines like in Japan – was surprised at no line on a Sunday but perhaps that was just because they had just opened... That would be more efficient for a place like this but might take a while for people here to get used to. I doubt it, however. Probably never. I really hate having to wait to order ramen. Seems like a waste of time. But I digress…I might add the yelling is just plain silly and if people think that goes on in Japan, they need to get their heads examined. Please god, stop it…even at Guu…please god stop all the yelling…!! At least it was toned down from the first week it was open.

I always go with Kinton Pork Ramen – double meat both belly and shoulder – regular, miso flavored. I am always glad they do not bother with specific lean meat either by just giving you two choices of cut (although the shoulder is pretty lean and in fact, the belly is also lean as the layer of fat is pretty thin if you ask me – certainly not Sumireya). In fact, I am convinced the shoulder is fattier than the belly….and richer too in flavor.

That said, make no mistake about it, I have rarely had anything that remotely looked “light” in Japan (and Ramen is most certainly, at least in my view, regarded as a “healthy” dish), probably since I have always just ordered the regular but I found the regular broth at Kinton on the lighter side. Not a good thing or a bad thing..just a style preference. The broth was rich but I think it could have had a little more fat based on the style I like. The miso was light in flavor although it might be a market/style choice. Personally, I like my miso a little stronger but again, a style choice. The corn was nice very sweet. I am not sure if was fresh Ontario corn as I could not see any cream kernals, just more yellow (certainly not two colours)… However, everything was nice and fresh. I found both types of pork nice and rich in flavor and preferred the belly over the shoulder although the shoulder was very nice – I think I will stick with the belly only next time. I noticed a little carmalization on the outside of the meat and could taste the same. It was very nice. Noodles were cooked very well. All in all, this was a very nice bowl of ramen. Comparable in quality to places I have been in Japan. The style is not exactly the style of ramen I prefer for my Miso ramen, but great ramen – I think it is the absence of akamiso… (this is my theory at least) Top quality and great taste…my style…no, will I be back, regularly.

Now on to Momofuko, as noted went on the first day of opening and another time a few days later…I guess that means I went twice in one week….as with Kinton, I like to order the same thing a few times before moving on to other items….for me, it was momofuku ramen and shiitake buns. I must say, the shiitake buns are to die for. So fresh, nice contrast between the rich mushrooms, still wondering if they are residual from the ramen broth…probably not…and the cucumber and the nice and fluffy bun. Top notch and top quality. I could come here and just each three orders of these and be happy…

As to the ramen, the broth is very rich. I think that comes from the chicken base versus pork bone based ramen although you could really tell there was some serious bacon flavor. I also enjoyed the mushroom based broth and for the life of me, I do not recall having a single broth with mushroom as such a predominant base in Japan. Chicken, yes, but chicken and mushroom, no.

I was sort of surprised that a person made reference to instant noodle…hey, if some prefer cup o noodles of what ever to this, fine by me. This ramen is top notch. Even though they have only been open a short time, it is great. I love it. The broth is smoky and is nice and rich to the point where you have a stickiness on your lips after you have some. I love the way the egg is cooked…my personal preference is the tokoshima way of starting from raw at the table (one or two depending on your preference), but I think the broth temperature, which I like, would not be particularly conducive to the same (but I was able to break the soft yolk open and mix it into my broth). Having not been to locations in NYC, I am not sure if the cooler broth is the style. Did not matter to me. The two types of pork were nice and I actually liked the shredded pork. The belly pieces were not too large but good enough and not too fatty for my liking. As to the nori, I am not sure if it goes that great with the type of broth personally…I would expect it to go better for the broth that is more based on the styles you see in Kyushu. To be honest, it tasted like…well, nori…the noodles were great also. I liked thickness…although at times I like them a little thicker but good level of firmness. I think they went very well with the style…All in all, is this quality product, yes, absolutely. Is it my preferred style of ramen, no, but my preference is for the Kumamoto style or the stuff you get up in Sapporo…, will I go back, repeatedly!

Edited by limitedtimeoffer, 27 September 2012 - 07:49 AM.

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