Momofuku Noodle Bar – East Village, New York

Due to the recent visit to momofuku (to), I decided to dig up my photos of when I went to momofuku (ny)’s noodle bar.

It was for a New Years trip with some of my university friends, and was definitely one of the times I ventured out of my comfort zone, did things without firm plans and just let my friends take me around.

However one place we did make a good effort to visit was the famous momofuku noodle bar. We promptly arrived at 4:45pm as the noodle bar opened at 5:00pm. There was a small line, about 5 people in front of us, so we were seated at the bar right away when they opened their doors. Tfung had visited just a couple months before me and had highly recommended me the pork buns, so me and my good friend ordered one order to share between the two of us, as it came with two buns.

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Their buns are actually Chinese styled buns, with the white flour type bread as the bun. They’ve simply folded it in half to fit the fatty pork, hoisin sauce, green onion and cucumbers. The flavour of the pork with the hoisin sauce was pretty much explosive. The fat with the meat contrasted by the crunch of the cucumber and green onion was the perfect pairing. The hoisin sauce enhanced the flavour of the pork in the best way possible. Obviously the bun offered a more substantial mouthful without adding much flavour, save for a slight sweetness. Overall, I thought this bun was out of this world. Although it’s priced at $9 per order (at least when I went), I didn’t mind paying for it. In fact, the gentleman next to us at the bar just ordered that and then left.

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I also ordered the momofuku ramen, which comes with pork shoulder, pork belly and an egg, along with the usual ramen goodies. At first bite, I did not like the ramen at all. The soup base had a woody, smokey flavour to it which I do not enjoy. I like my ramen broths to be tonkotsu-based, and this was definitely not. Furthermore, the noodles weren’t cooked well, and I could still taste the uncooked flour taste. The bowl was fairly small, which was just as well since I didn’t like eating it. The egg was okay, not as soft-boiled as I would have liked but definitely still had a golden centre. Overall I thought the execution of the ramen just isn’t what I look for in ramen. Maybe others enjoy the smokey flavour, but the flour-taste in the noodles is definitely a fail for me.

I thought that the hype for this restaurant was way too high and I was pretty disappointed in their ramen. I always recommend my friends to get their pork buns though, since I do think they are extremely well balanced, full of flavour, and a nice twist to “pork buns” as you would see at a dim sum place. I do believe that is where the chef had originally thought of the idea, as he is Chinese.

There wasn’t anything remarkable about the service, and they were fairly efficient. The price is a little on the more expensive side, but it is New York, and rated quite high as a restaurant.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.4/10 (saved by the pork buns)
Atmosphere: modern, asian,
Price: $15-20

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

 

~ kehwon

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Momofuku (Daisho and Nikai) – Entertainment District

As me and tfung are united once more, we ventured out to the very talked about momofuku located right beside the new Shangri-La hotel in Toronto. We had reservations for 7 at Momofuku Daisho, which is on the third floor of Momofuku TO, and serves mainly meats.

We arrived first, which was great since we were able to get some photos before our party arrived. We headed straight up the stairs, as the first floor was packed with patrons there for the ramen. I found that the design was poor, as everyone was already stuffed at the entrance, and it seemed that they didn’t have a wireless card machine, resulting in another crowd of people bunched up at the entrance to pay. They should have either put the machine elsewhere, or invested in some wireless devices. It kind of confused me even more as Daisho had wireless machines.

When we arrived on the third floor, we were informed that the table was not ready. The hostess gestured us down to the second floor (Nikai) to have a drink while we wait. We had originally planned to head to Nikai after dinner with our friends for drinks but headed down there anyway just to have a sit.

Tfung and I both ordered drinks. He had the herbaceous, which he substituted with gin instead of tequila, -lime,  lychee, elderflower, bitters and cucumber. I had the Vosay – vodka, yuzu, orange blossom, and tonic. I didn’t like mine (which I think was due to orange blossom, making it taste like cough syrup), so I took tfung’s. I thought it was absolutely delicious, while he thought it could have gone without the lime. Either way, we agreed that their cocktails were probably hit or miss. They were pretty expensive as well, ringing in at $12 and $13 respectively.

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I really love how the building includes different “pseudo-restaurants”. The lounge in the middle is genius. The decor was very modern and totally my style. On the top floor, it overlooks University Ave, reminding me of Suits and other more personal events.

Slowly our party began arriving, and each time we asked if the table was ready and it wasn’t. We ended up waiting a total of 40 minutes before we were seated. Tfung was highly disappointed, and to be honest, it should have been the hostess’s job to inform the patrons ahead of us that there is a second party waiting on their table as soon as they seemed to be going over time. Otherwise, they shouldn’t have booked us in for that time.

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We had reserved the bo ssäm (pork butt) in advance, which is meant for 6-10 people. 6 of us were in on the deal, as one was a vegetarian. The bo ssäm was $240, and comes with lettuce, dipping sauces and 12 raw oysters. Tonight, we had oysters from Green Gables, PEI. The oysters were quite fresh and sand-free. I thought it was quite well done, even though it wasn’t the star of the night.

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The sauces and the bo ssäm was served in Chinese bowls and plates. Although they were trying to go for the Asian fusion theme, the sauces they chose were very rudimentary to those accustomed with Chinese and Korean cuisine. The top left: ginger and onion sauce (typically served with chicken). To the right: Kimchi Paste. Bottom left: Kimchi. Bottom Right: bo ssäm sauce.

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We ordered 3 sides, the brussel sprouts (with fish sauce, puffed rice and mint). These were perhaps the best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had. They used baby sprouts, eliminating the bitter taste some people dislike. The flavour was bold and buttery with a slightly acidic aftertaste. It was very pungent due to the added fish sauce. The flavour is extremely addicting, and everyone thought this was the best tasting side, holding true to what the server told us; that it’s one of the most popular sides. After a while though, it gets to be too salty and too flavourful for my taste.

The other side we got was cauliflower with egg, anchovies and capers. I didn’t get any of the anchovies or capers in my spoonful, but thought that the egg was an interesting touch. That and the fact that I love egg. This side was not too salty, but still had a nice flavour. I didn’t find anything to extraordinary with this dish as I did with the brussel sprouts.

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Let’s talk about the meat first. When I eat it alone, it was incredibly tender, juicy, and flavourful. The skin was slightly crispy, but not too much so. It was so tender that you could pull the meat apart with just tongs. Amazing!

With condiments, my favourite was definitely the kimchi. The kimchi flavour adds an interesting sour yet spicy twist to the meat, making it more interesting, and the crunchiness of the cabbage contrasted the meat perfectly. Tfung liked the kimchi paste the most. There was also a shallot/green onion/oil mixture (which to chinese people is not very exotic as it is pretty much a staple for whole chicken), which I didn’t enjoy at all. Due to the fact that there was already some oil and grease from the meat platter, mixed with the shallot/oil mixture leaves a pretty disgusting feeling in the mouth. The last condiment was the bo ssäm sauce which is a little on the sour side, and has a medium viscosity. I didn’t think it worked as well as the kimchi did with the meat.

The meat is meant to be eaten like a taco with lettuce leaves and the condiments. You can also choose to put some steamed white rice in it, which tfung did. It added a sweetness to the taco wrap and gave it more filling.

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(We thought we could finish…we were wrong.)

Overall I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavour of the food. The service was pretty average, and to be honest, for the price we’re paying, the service should have been better. Thus it was reflected in their tip. The actual waiter wasn’t too bad, but the two hostesses totally ruined it for us. They also had a wine specialist on the floor who recommended us an amazing Riesling to go with the pork. It paired perfectly with the bo ssäm. It was actually a semi-sweet Riesling which helped to bring out the flavours of the pork. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the Riesling, but if you do go to Momofuku, be sure to ask for wine recommendations if they have their wine specialist in house (usually should be okay if you go on the weekend). The bo ssäm and the sides were really great. My only recommendation would be to bring a larger group (~10 people) to be able to enjoy a variety of both the bo ssäm and other dishes that Daisho had to offer.

Service: 3/5
Food: 8.6/10
Atmosphere: Modern, Fusion, Asian, Sophisticated
Price: $50-60 per person

Momofuku Daishō on Urbanspoon