The infamous Momofuku Noodle Bar has been opened for a several months now and seemed to be going strong on its presence among foodies. When it opened, the onslaught of social media reaction was overwhelming. The anticipation for its opening was too hard to miss. I kept myself in fair distance, waiting for initial craze to normalize. This prudence to wait meant shorter queues for seating and the kitchen sorting out kinks in their menu items. I walked in Canada Day lunch hour and I was seated right away.
It was easy enough to find street parking by Simcoe and Pearl St, just behind University Avenue. Don’t rely on that information on a regular day though. Today was a holiday and the usual traffic of people were not present. Do scout it. Who knows, you might just get lucky. An easy walk towards University Avenue, going north towards Richmond, there was a chill in the air. I came to Momofuku with the dishes I’d be ordering already selected. Through my walk, I considered dropping my choices for a ramen with hot soup. It would perfect comfort for a day like this.
I walked in the restaurant just 10 minutes before 2pm. The restaurant, still full of patrons, bustled and thrived with loud music on the background. I didn’t mind the volume though as the high ceilings diluted the noise and it was background noise I could live with. The person who received me by the door asked me whether I was okay to sit by the kitchen bar and I attempted to mask my giddiness with a nod. It was the perfect spot for a blogger like me. A raised chair by the bar meant getting a better perspective for the interiors of the restaurant and a closer view of the action behind the counter. It entertained me watching the organized chaos of the Momofuku noodle bar. Each crew attuned to their chores, worked fluidly, seamlessly passing big white bowls from one person to the other. I asked to be in one corner as I can capture a lot of the kitchen bustle without being intrusive.
I earlier said that I already came decided of what to eat. Because of two reviews I read online, I wanted to try Momofuku’s ginger scallion noodles and pork buns (kunan farm, on). Take note that the noodles does not have the soup. It was served cold but I was curious why one review recommended it over the ramen. The pork buns was just for me to pacify my love for tender pork.
There could be two reasons why my food came swift and fast: the efficient crew or the lunch hour was drawing to a close. Looking behind me and seeing that the restaurant was still 80% full, I would still say the first hypothesis might be more true. My bowl of noodles arrived first with a generous heaping of scallions, pickled cabbage, cucumber and shiitake mushrooms. I know! It’s totally vegetarian! Seeing the amount of mushrooms on the bowl though, I think that should be sufficient enough to make you forget about the absence of protein. The pork buns came next and just from the look, I can tell that the meat was tender. To most North Americans, it might seem pale, but to me it was just right. Filipino cooking never really sear meat before adding it to soup or most of our dishes. I must say he went out of the box to keep true to Asian sensibilities. I learned to love different kinds of texture to food but I don’t miss it when it was not present.
Digging in to the bowl of noodles, I tried to mix the carefully plated ginger scallion noodles. The best thing in that bowl was the shiitake mushrooms. It was marinated and its flavors shone through each bite. It was like a sponge of flavors. This was actually my last bite for this Momofuku experience. It also helped that the noodles was devoid of the alkaline taste that usually came with Japanese ramen. It had a clean finish and was comfortingly al dente. Turning my attention to the pork buns, making one huge bite, I appreciated the fluffiness of the bun. The hoisin, scallion on the cucumber cut through the richness of the tender meat. After tasting that steamed bun, I considered for a moment to also ask for the chicken one. But since I literally finished both dishes, I have no more room for it. Maybe I’d chose it when I return back here. I know at one point, I will dine here once again.
With a satisfied tummy, I left Momofuku with a feeling of satisfaction that I went out of the box and ordered the dishes low in the radar of most patrons. It was comfort food to me. I would be dreaming about that shiitake mushrooms when I go to bed tonight.