Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Toronto: Momofuku (Noodle Bar)

oh fuk!
:Adelaide + University:

I had a love affair with David Chang. In my head.

He’s a Korean-American chef who, as portrayed on television and the media, appears hilarious. I’m a sucker for laughs. His life revolves around pork. I’m a sucker for pigs. He’s won three James Beard awards. I’m a sucker for over-achievers.

Now I say had for two reasons: Obviously I’m a grown woman and don’t really have fantasy relationships with chefs I love. Secondly, I liked his mission – to bring quality food to middle-class public – but I'm not sure that's happening in Toronto.

I always thought he was largely responsible for bringing the no-frills/my-way-or-the highway attitude back to the city of NYC. In fact, his many restaurants are a testament to the fact the public doesn’t mind his attitude, if he’s serving good grub. Then he opened Momofuku Noodle Bar at the Shangri-La? Really? It’s so not middle-class. But I suppose given the fact the restaurant’s menu is still reasonably priced, I shouldn’t judge where, and only the what. So I will, but I am no longer crushing. 

My dinner date is my lucky peach - Aerie.  Momofuku is lucky that Aerie and I didn't mind waiting.  It gave us one-and-a-half hours to walk down memory lane.  We partied like we did in 1999...

As we were finishing up, I got a text from Momofuku telling us out table was ready and it would be held for ten minutes.  No one likes to wait.  But knowing that you can leave your number and get a text is efficient.  You can use that time to wait aimlessly, or you can use that time.  Your choice, not Chang's.

We got seated - and it's cute.  The little wooden stools were fine for me and Aerie, but we're petite, I wonder how comfortable they are for anyone bigger.  Service was friendly, fun, and SO efficient.
Full disclosure dictates that I tell you I love Chang’s pork buns. So yes, they are just as loveable here north of the border. Everything else? Well, it’s good. Aerie and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal (but could have done without the sake slush cocktail...). 

I’ve heard all the complaints, and there are many momofukuhaters: “for a $16 bowl of noodles, it was sh*t”, “I hated it”, “it’s alright, nothing to wait in line for”, the rice was okay”…

I have nothing to say to those people. We are all entitled to our own opinions. I mean I just threw down a big one about the fact it’s in a haughty hotel. But at the end of the day, I always eat in CONTEXT. Chang’s signature dish is perfect:

If you don't know. Get.to.know.

His lobster buns were also stellar:

Fresh, flavourful and a nice change from the pork.
The ramen was neither heavy nor rich, but flavourful. And the egg – PERFECTLY cooked – it ooooozedddd.

The special rice with crispy chicken skin:

Tasty with a kick.

His food is good and it’s moderately priced. That’s exactly what he wanted to do. In context, it all makes sense so I’m not going to knit-pick. And trust me, if there was no context I would.  During my last visit to NYC I was sorely disappoitned with some of the food at momofuku.  I was annoyed, but far from hating.  His pork buns never let me down. They are like my family. Unconditional.

Momofuku on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 24, 2012

Toronto: Weslodge

:King West:

O GG, GG, wherefore art thou GG?
Deny thy readers and refuse thy posts…

My apologies readers – friends, family and strangers – I forgot to say I was going on a hiatus.  I’ve been travelling. And I can’t wait to share those food adventures…one day.

For now…I have only a few weeks left in Toronto and wanted to share the things that make my heart sing.

Seeing my favourite duo – Cracker and The Scotsman – makes my heart sing. Even though I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love them when they’re not making fun of me. I hate them otherwise.

Last Friday I bee-lined down to King Street to crash their dinner date at a “hype” new place called Weslodge. I was so excited. The yellow doors are such a statement and the reviews were pretty good.

I was sadly, disappointed. The biggest factor was the pretentious air. We didn’t have a reservation but the tone in which we were told we could “borrow” the table and “give it back” in an hour was too too much. It’s just a table. In a restaurant. You want the seats filled, right? Am I wrong? In fact we filled them for a full two hours until they gave us a ten minute warning.

Regardless of the attitude of the hostess, the wait staff was friendly and informative. They all seemed to be having a good time in their kitschy saloon uniforms, which leads me to the décor – think hunter meets prince. Love it.

All that said, I was unimpressed with the food. I got 21 french fries. I counted because they looked so sparse when they came to the table. The menu itself is pricier than what it should be so I would have at least wanted 25 fries. The rest of the food was underwhelming, save and except the Scotch Egg. Cracker gave it her stamp of approval.

I’m blogging about it still because the desserts and cocktails were banging. And I only use banging when I hands-up like something. My niece told me that people say “legit”. So using her vocabulary, yes, these desserts are legit.

The instant cake:

I’m not a fan of chocolate, but I’m a fan of wonder – INSTANT CAKE? Wondrous.
The cheesecake:

The Scotsman and Cracker were fighting over the last bite, but oh-so-politely, until Cracker just ate it.

All in all, I would go again – with a reservation, with an attitude, and just for drinks.

Weslodge on Urbanspoon