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Introducing: Momofuku Noodle Bar, the Toronto outpost of David Chang’s New York original

Introducing: Momofuku Noodle Bar

(Image: Renée Suen)

New York’s Momofuku Noodle Bar was the restaurant that started it all for David Chang’s mini-empire, so it’s only fitting that the Toronto version was the first to open. The least expensive of the four Toronto concepts, it takes up the complex’s entire ground level, with entrances along University Avenue and through the Shangri-La. The room itself is wrapped in textured white oak walls and bordered by blackened steel bridges and a wooden staircase. Echoing the vibe of its American sibling, the 70-seat space has an open kitchen bar along its west wall, rows of communal white oak benches and a Steve Keene painting called Rust Never Sleeps that depicts Neil Young and Crazy Horse playing Madison Square Garden in 1978 (not to mention a carefully crafted playlist).

Sharing Noodle Bar kitchen responsibilities with executive chef Sam Gelman is executive sous chef Hans Vogels (Turf Lounge, Spoke Club); below, in the building’s basement, executive sous chef Teruya Kobayashi heads the commissary kitchen (whose team of 14 assists with the high-volume demands of Noodle Bar and slogs through the basic prep for the other restaurants). Fans of the original East Village location will recognize some favourites on the menu, although the Toronto dishes have their own spins. For example, Toronto’s version of chilled spicy noodles ($14) comes with Szechuan sausage, spinach and cashew, and is dressed with a black bean sauce. The main attractions, of course, are the ramen ($16) and Chang’s oft-imitated steamed pork buns ($10 for two). The short menu also features rice bowls, including one with smoked chicken and a 66°C slow-cooked egg ($15), and a hearty kimchi stew ($16) with fresh sliced rice cakes and pork shoulder. Noodle Bar is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner, and, like Guu, is walk-in only (i.e., prepare for a lineup).

Introducing Momofuku Toronto Introducing Momofuku Toronto: Noodle Bar Introducing Momofuku Toronto: Nikai Introducing Momofuku Toronto: Daisho Introducing Momofuku Toronto: Shoto

Momofuku Toronto, 190 University Ave., momofuku.com, @momofuku

Our Introducing series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops throughout the GTA
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  • F

    Having eaten very well several times at the NYC Momofuku restos I was eager to try our own Toronto outpost of the noodle bar. I was surprised and disappointed to find that my bowl of ramen was lacking in inspiration and depth of flavor. The stock tasted burnt and bitter rather than smokey and rich. Quite one note. The accompaniments were a bit grey and flat. The pork belly was flaccid and tasteless. The soft poached egg was not the perfectly custardy translucent orb that I had experienced in NYC but rather a nearly raw blob of clear egg whites and watery yolk. I also felt that the staff were just phoning it in, assembling the mise en place like robots. Toronto’s ramen joints are pretty good,and getting better, and unfortunately there are many I would go to before revisiting this new Momofuku joint. I am a big fan of David Chang’s, and won’t hesitate to go back to his NYC locations where I have always had a great and memorable meal. Hopefully this isn’t franchise syndrome where the original genius gets watered down. That said, I only had one meal there, will try again. Could have been an off night, I hope so. For a $15 bowl of ramen, ending up at $20 with tip and tax, this should have been a big bowl of love.

 

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