I know, I don't live in Toronto anymore, but this is about the city you love getting a huge stamp of approval!
|Momofuku at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto|
Momofuku finally opened in August and occupies three floors of the Shangri-La Hotel with four separate restaurants. On the first floor is the casual, walk-in only Noodle Bar with communal seating, while Nikai, a bar/lounge, takes up the second floor. The third floor houses Daisho, featuring seated a la carte lunch and dinners as well as a large format menu that must be reserved in advance, and Shoto, a tasting-only spot where an approximately 10-course chef's special may be had for $150.
On my visit to Toronto, I tried to make a reservation for Daisho a few days ahead of my intended visit, but the earliest time available was 9:45 pm on a weeknight! Ah, maybe next time I will have to plan ahead. Still undeterred, I decided to swing by the Noodle Bar for a quick lunch one day. I had heard horror stories about long waits from the downtown lunch crowd, so I made sure to arrive by 11:45 am (Noodle Bar opens at 11:30 am), which worked out well as I was able to be seated right away...and by noon the place was packed!
|Menu of the Day|
My brother had recommended the famous Pork Buns, with scallion, cucumber, dressed in hoisin sauce, and wrapped in a slightly sweet bun. These sure came with a price tag fit for Shangri-La ($10 for two small buns), but the juicy, tender, melt-on-your-tongue meat makes it worth every penny. Famous pork buns are famous for a reason.
|Pork Buns ($10)|
I also ordered the Smoked Chicken Ramen, with very tasty, juicy local chicken, mushrooms, scallion, menma (a richly flavored sweet and salty condiment made from bamboo shoots), poached egg, in a garlicky miso broth. The noodles were perfectly al dente. Overall, I found the ramen quite enjoyable.
|Smoked Chicken Ramen ($14)|
Admittedly, despite my initial excitement about visiting Momofuku, I had read some harsh reviews online and also heard from various sources that it is just "all hype." Would Momofuku prove to be a disappointment after all? Now that I've eaten at Noodle Bar, I'm truly glad that I didn't listen to the naysayers. I thought the ramen was good. Could it be better and cheaper? Probably. But it was solid, and I found myself still thinking about it long after lunch that day. Besides, it's ramen, folks. Perhaps the extraordinarily lofty expectations are a little unfair?
And those pork buns! They absolutely wow'd me. I would come back just for those.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
190 University Ave, First Floor, Toronto, ON M5H 0A3
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