When I was at chef school in New York, I often made my way to the East Village for a pork bun bite at Momofuku. At the time, there was a small line but nothing like the phenomenon it has become today. Pork belly, though certainly not invented by David Chang, has become a trendy menu item across a myriad of restaurants in North America. Since moving from NYC, I have often yearned for the two-bite pork buns made famous by the Momofuku brand. And now Torontonians can enjoy them at Toronto’s very own Momofuku, in the recently opened Shangri-La Hotel.
I usually don’t tend to wait in line for restaurants but I was ready to make the exception when I went for lunch at Momofuku today, the day after it opened.The restaurant is far bigger than its New York counterpart however, so we were seated as soon as the doors opened.
As I sat down, I couldn’t help but think about one of the lines from an old episode of 30 Rock that refers to Toronto as “just like New York but without all the stuff“. The line always makes me laugh, but I think somewhere deep down it kind of annoys me too. I’ve only lived here for a little over a year, but I strangely feel attached to this city and think its potential is far greater than most places I know. The fact that David Chang decided to open here, is, in my mind, a small token that shows just how much of a food and culture hub Toronto really is.
Back in 2009, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Chang as he was promoting the release of his Momofuku cookbook (you can read my review of his book here) and it seems that in the few years since he’s become that much bigger. With his Lucky Peach magazine, his Milk Bar success and now his Toronto expansion, Chang has achieved a level of success most chefs can’t begin to dream of.
As I was feasting on my ginger scallion noodles (another staple dish) I looked up and David Chang was there, on the second story of his restaurant, looking down at the bustling, feasting crowd. And for any skeptics out there, let me tell you, the food was amazingly flavourful, well-executed and true to the New York Chang meals I have enjoyed. The bill on the other hand? Still a little high for what you get on your plate – but still somehow worth it..!
Have you made your way to Momofuku yet?
Enjoy the read!