Momofuku Noodle Bar (Toronto)

A good but uninspired offering

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 190 University Avenue
Website: http://momofuku.com/toronto/noodle-bar-to/
Time of visit: Dinner on a Sunday in November

The Momofuku ramen ($15) was good contrary to most reviews - chewy noodles and flavourful salty broth. Indeed it didn't taste that much better than what you can purchase at other ramen restaurants, but certainly wasn't bad. The egg was different, poached rather than hard boiled, however somewhat ruins the broth as it quickly mixes into it and I’d prefer the broth clear.
Momofuku ramen (1)
I wish the Toronto location would have the spicy chicken ramen being offered in NYC; I found the pork belly accompanying the noodles to be too similar to what you get with the pork bao. Perhaps, Momofuku should consider offering a plain version (no proteins) and allowing customers to customize their ramen by paying for additional "side" choices - essentially using the pork belly, chicken, chicken wings, kimchi, etc. that they already serve.

What I miss most is the shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder) that you normally get at Toronto and Japan restaurants that you can sprinkle into your bowl.  Something about that bright orange MSG powder screams ramen to me!

In my opinion, the pork bao ($10) is more original although not recommended to health obsessed individuals. Two slices of fatty pork belly wrapped in a soft sweet white bread smeared with sweet hoisin sauce, boiled cucumber slices and fresh scallions, undeniably a decadent bun. I’d like to see how the bao would taste if the pork belly skin was crispy - I think it'd provide a nice contrast to all the soft ingredients and also set the bao apart from the Momofuku ramen's pork belly. If you like Peking duck from Shanghainese restaurants you will likely enjoy these.


 



Pork bao (2)

I didn’t have it myself, but my husband advises the chicken bao ($9) was good.  Made with shredded chicken with pieces of crispy skin, likely what’s used in the chicken and rice dish, it’s similarly wrapped in the soft white bun and flavour with hoisin sauce. 

Chicken bao (3)
 

The chicken and egg rice ($15) sounds uninspiring but is still decent.  Sticky Japanese rice with teriyaki sauce and the same soft poached egg in the ramen, it’s a relatively safe option for those who may not like the fattiness of the other dishes.  I did like the poached egg in this dish as it breaks and mixes in to coat the rice. The chicken was tender and had a great flavourful crispy skin.

Chicken and rice (1)

Two items that was not on their website’s menu being offered that night included:
  • Very spicy noodles ($12) – unlike their chilled spicy noodles this is warm and vegetarian.  I had a bite and it was very spicy!  Luckily, it comes with cucumbers and scallions which help to calm down the heat.

  • Clams with vermicelli ($18) – very different from other dishes which is nice after having so many similar items.  The the vermicelli is pan fried so that the top part is crispy and becomes a noodle cake – similar to the crispy yellow Cantonese chow mein.  Compared to the ramen, the dish is a bit bland as the sauce covering the noodles isn’t flavourful enough.  If there was a bit more clam juices to soak into the vermicelli it should taste better.  But, there was a fair portion of clams that were cooked perfectly.

For sides we tried the smoked chicken wings ($12), glazed with teriyaki sauce, then baked (?) and finished off with a sprinkling of scallions. I like the freshness of scallion but other than that it’s nothing you couldn't make yourself quite easily.  The kimchi ($6) arrived in a mini mason jar and was actually a pretty decent sized portion.  The kimchi is fresh and crispy, not overly fermented, nonetheless not spicy enough for my taste.

Chicken wings (1)

To end the meal we tried their rice pudding ($6) which is very thick and not too sweet.  I love when you mix in the watery caramel sauce in the bottom of the jar into the mixture.  We also had the chocolate mousse ($7) with crispy rice; rich tasting and certainly meant to be shared. 


Overall, Momofuku is good and I'd say serves tasty Westernized versions of Japanese, Korean and Chinese dishes. There wasn't a dish I didn't like that meal.  At the same time, I didn't experience a excuse me while I close my eyes and drool moment, so if there's a line-up I'd go somewhere else.  One day will try the other two Momofuku restaurants; hopefully, these will be more inspiring.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

Like the post? Go to my main page for a complete listing by country.

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html


Photo Sources:
  1. Momofuku ramen, chicken & rice and chicken wings - The Urban Craze (http://theurbancraze.com/food/japanese/momofuku-noodle-bar/)
  2. Pork bao - Wes @ Foodspotting (http://www.foodspotting.com/15234-wes)
  3. Chicken bao - Teehee Lopez @ Foodspotting (http://www.foodspotting.com/people/70666-teehee-lopez?page=2)




Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon