Tag Archives: mind of a chef

Confession: I didn’t know what “Momofuku” was until recently

19 Jan

This resident foodie has a confession: I didn’t know what “Momofuku” was until recently. Late to the party? I know. I love food but I don’t worship “celebrity chefs.” Also, like Bourdain, I have an aversion to hipsters … and I’ve only ever heard the word uttered by people who experience life ironically. I didn’t know that David Chang had revolutionized food.

But, like everyone who has Netflix, I’ve been watching Mind of a Chef on a loop. I have all of the ingredients to make a proper dashi and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna bake with a bandana à la Cristina Tosi. It was only natural that I had to try a bowl of ramen as interpreted by the master. I grew up in Richmond Hill/ Markham. So, noodles in broth aren’t a foreign experience. It’s “fast food.” It’s cheap but delicious. I needed to know what was so special about these noodles so I studied and even consulted Ivan Orkin‘s book!

With a reservation for 5:45 on Saturday, we were seated promptly. It must not be pleasant to be a hostess here – they have to manage an unwieldy velvet curtain (to protect diners from the cold) as they seat guests and process payments for Milk Bar products in a tiny space. The seating is communal for the most part, along with some stools and smaller tables. It seems they still haven’t really resolved the issue regarding winter coats as most guests just sat on their coats and scarves while scarfing their delicious hot noodles.

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The menu is carefully curated and we noticed immediately the range of local farmers and food producers who provide the resto with ingredients. There’s nothing like a chef who sources local food rather than parachute in products created by his friends. Thomas Lavers (Kensington Market) supplies their ginger beer!

We ordered the Kimchi and Pork Buns to start. The kimchi was packed tightly in a mason jar. It’s too much for two people … or so you think … I can’t get over the freshness and balance of flavours. The pork belly melted in your mouth and the cucumber and hoisin sauce reminded me of special dinners as a kid when we got peking duck.

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Momofuku Ramen

The Momofuku ramen is heaven. The broth is so well rounded and savoury. The noodles have snap (they are “toothsome”). The pork, similar to the pork belly in the pork buns but somehow richer, offers comfort and warmth. The Clam Noodle was served with less broth … more of a gravy. It had a healthy kick and the clams added the depth of the sea.

The service was abrupt but perfunctory. I don’t need my server to be my friend … though it wouldn’t kill some of the serving staff (the men in particular) to pretend like they enjoy working there. I was annoyed that this still seemed like a place “to be seen” — there was a table of three obnoxious hipsters drinking a tall can each and sharing a small soft serve. They split their bill three ways. WHY ARE YOU AT A NOODLE BAR?!?

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A visit is not complete without a visit to Milk Bar on the second floor. You can get everything you’ve ever read about: the corn cookie, mixes for all of their different cakes, and merch (because we all need another tote bag). Our haul: Compost Cookie, Corn Cookie (2), Blueberry & Cream, Maple, Pecan & Coconut, Cornflake Marshmallow, Birthday Truffles. The Corn cookies taste like corn. It’s a wild experience. The Birthday Truffles smell like happiness. These cookies each have unique textural qualities, are on the chewy (under-baked) side, and are incredibly rich so you should plan to share with only your favourite people.

I refuse to be a Momofuku “fan” – Chang doesn’t need another “cult follower.” But, I don’t get the hate-on some bloggers have for the guy. I love that he’s elevated the food I grew up on. I strongly believe that he gets good noodles and has crafted each element of this experience with love and care. This is the closest thing to a genuine bowl of ramen without getting yourself a ticket to Tokyo.

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon