Showing posts with label momofuku. Show all posts
Showing posts with label momofuku. Show all posts

CLOSED: Momofuku Daisho (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 190 University Avenue, 3rd floor
Type of Meal: Dinner

Looking up at Daisho from outside, it looks like you’re eating in a box in the sky.  Located on the third floor of the Momofuku complex I’d say it actually has the best view out of all three restaurants.  With floor to ceiling windows overlooking University Avenue and wooden tables it has a similar feel as Momofuku Noodle Bar except the tables have more space between them and those surrounding the windows actually have chairs rather than bench seating. However, the centre tables still have benches which makes balancing jackets and purses annoying.  A big feature bar separates Daisho from Shoto and kitchen, which is also located on the floor.

Not long after being seated, water arrives and once filled it’s never empty with their attentive service. Our waitress, although new, was knowledgeable about the menu and the wine list offering pairing suggestions which was impressive.  The young, laid back staff fits right into the attitude of Daisho – unfussy food with a bit of flare.  

After ordering wine, a complimentary dish of pickled cucumbers arrived.  Unlike the traditional kimchi cucumbers, they were more savoury rather than tart.  With a hint of spice from the Korean chili pepper the dish was a good starter to munch on while deciding what to order.


Daisho’s appetizers are a bit unconventional and a strange mix consisting of Asian inspired vegetables, pretzel bread, oysters and an array of starches (buns, noodles and rice cake).  We opted for maitaki mushrooms (really a side dish) and rice cakes which were a favourite of our waitress. 

Maitaki mushrooms ($15), also known as hen-of-the-woods, are more akin to a fungus than mushroom and almost has a leafy feel to it.  Topped with a sharp Monforte toscano (a local Ontario-made cheese) and bread crumbs, the au gratin was flavourful and not what I was expecting.  Drizzles of lemon basil (?) oil surrounded the mushrooms and calmed the richness of the dish.


Our spicy rice cakes ($15), meant to be an appetizer, didn’t arrive until after our main was served.  After seeing the size of the fried chicken, we decided to cancel the rice cakes.  But, our waitress wanted us to try them so much that she provided them on-the-house.  I loved the cubes of rice cakes which had a crispy crust and the right hint of spiciness to it.  The Chinese sausage ragu mixture, on the other hand, wasn’t as impressive and I felt too salty.  Nonetheless, the dish is worth a try, sort of like an Asian inspired crispy gnocchi.


Also arriving with the fried chicken was a complimentary order of ramps ($14).  Ramps are a wild leek and were much leafier than I expected.  Unlike the leeks in the supermarket which look like large green onions, ramps seem to have large leaves, that taste like Chinese broccoli, which Daisho chopped into slivers.  Topped with fried onion frizzles and a dash of lemon the dish was a great side to the heavy chicken.


Finally, for the main we shared the family style fried chicken ($125).  Sixteen pieces of tender, moist and crispy deliciousness arrived on a Chinese style platter. Served piping hot there were also a basket of thin scallion pancakes which were the thickness of a tortilla but had soft chewiness of a roti. The chicken shredded easily off the bone and the crusty layer of skin was seasoned but not overly salty or oily. Suggested for a group of 4-6, it's certainly a lot of food and easily satisfies six people.


Accompanying the chicken were a jar of pickled vegetables, bowls of sliced radishes and herbs, a plate of scallion and ginger paste, jalapeño soy sauce and Tabasco salt; all for allowing the patron to mix and match with or without the pancakes.  My favourite combination of the night was wrapping the chicken in the pancake with scallion and ginger paste, fresh herbs and a touch of Tabasco salt.


I enjoy the unhurried attitude at Daisho, with our waitress giving us plenty of time to peruse the menu and sit and chat.  Unlike the Noodle Bar, which depends on fast turnover, Daisho allows you to sit and relax – well as much as you can relax on a backless bench.  The fun family style dishes are a great excuse to grab a group of friends together and just enjoy.


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10




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____________________________
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



Momofuku Noodle Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 190 University Avenue
Website: http://momofuku.com/toronto/noodle-bar-to/
Type of Meal: Dinner

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
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

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

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

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

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


____________________________
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