It was a foggy and wet day when I stepped into Momofuku Noodle Bar in Toronto for the first time, and I was craving something warm and comforting — ASAP. Not long after ordering, a helmet-sized bowl was placed in front of me with steaming noodles, neatly placed pork, and a soft-poached egg. My mouth watered as I readied my wooden chopsticks and a too-short spoon to dig in. The noodles in my Momofuku Ramen ($15) were perfectly al dente, with a savoury broth unmatched to any I'd had before and an easily shredded piece of pork that melted together in every spoonful. I came to learn that the pork was local too, from Kunan Farms in Ontario.
Surprisingly, this wasn't even the best dish of the night. Although the menu has a handful of noodles to choose from — chilled, extremely spicy, and ginger scallion – the always-changing menu offers more than just that. Momofuku has a selection of "snacks," like steamed buns ($10), hot & honey chicken wings ($12), and marinated cucumber ($6), but a changing menu means that just because you enjoyed your meal one day, doesn't mean it'll be there the next day.
I chose the beef pastrami reubens ($10), with meat that is brined for seven days, a sweet dressing (like thousand islands), mustard, and pickled mustard seeds inside a C-shaped and ghostly-pale steamed bun, which were the best I've ever had... ever. It was thanks to our server's suggestion that we got a chance to try these, because we were informed that it is a limited-quantity dish that sells out before anything else, so much so that they don't bother printing it on the menu. To go with this, I tried one of their specialty frozen drinks, the Seven Spice Sour ($5), which I shouldn't have underestimated — it was innovative but too spicy to drink comfortably.
Momofuku is a restaurant I had tried for years in New York, and I was ecstatic to see it come to Toronto on a grand scale. Toronto's location is on the ground floor of a three-story glass cube on University Avenue, with Momofuku Nikai, Daishō, Shōtō, and Milk Bar all on subsequent floors. A contemporary and simple decor fills the tall room, with long staple-shaped tables and rectangular stools to match. There are no backs on any of the seats, and there's no coat check except for a rack near the door to use at your own risk, so in the wintertime, the room feels even fuller with coats sprawled in between seats. The restaurant's concrete floors and wood-layered walls are appealing in their own way, but don't expect intimate conversation in the bustling space when you're sharing a full table and bench with other diners.
As far as getting good noodles (and in Toronto, there are plenty to choose from), Momofuku is a must-try. You're lured in by the noodles, hooked by the steamed buns, and left craving more when you finish your to-go package from the Milk Bar. Thank you, David Chang! I hope we've made you feel welcome here.