On Friday we posted our Where to Eat This Weekend and suggested driving up the QEW and hanging out in Toronto for your foodie fix. We took our own advice and did some adventuring around Toronto; we managed to grab lunch at the newly opened and much hyped Momofuku Noodle Bar, checked out the St. Lawrence Market, ordered some poutine and even had room for dessert.
Momofuku Noodle Bar. David Chang is taking over the world. He’s a regular on Jimmy Fallon, has some killer NYC restaurants, started Lucky Peach (the coolest food magazine around) and has a new show debuting in November on PBS. Just a couple weeks ago David Chang’s restaurant group Momofuku opened 4 new locations in the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto. There is a bar/lounge Nikai, Daisho (large plate/group dining), Shoto (22 seat tasting menu only) and Noodle Bar, a near replica of the popular east village ramen joint. Since Alli and I aren’t ballers, we decided to visit Noodle Bar (the most affordable option by far and only restaurant that doesn’t take/need reservations).
We walked into the restaurant on a Friday shortly after they opened, the host took my cell phone number and told me I’d get a text when my table was ready and that I could wait upstairs in the lounge. The restaurant’s dining room was pretty crowded; most of the seating is on large, long tables that offer a communal dining experience. The service staff seems to be by committee, we had different servers taking our orders, bringing over food, getting our check and cashing out our bill. It was a little confusing but the restaurant is run like a well oiled machine, we waited about 20 minutes for a table then ordered, ate and paid our bill within 30 minutes.
We ordered the notorious pork buns (above), the Momofuku Ramen (gallery) and their own take on eggs benedict (above), which was the special of the day. The pork buns were pretty great; the fatty pork melted into the soft/fluffy bun and the sweet hoison was a great compliment. I would have loved more sauce, but otherwise they were great. The eggs benedict special was fantastic and I’d order it every day for breakfast if I could, poached eggs on top of a bun, tiny potatoes and covered in pieces of peameal bacon and hollandaise sauce. It was awesome. The ramen was good, but not amazing. It definitely didn’t match the mind blowing experience that we had at Ippudo but still better than anything we can get in Buffalo (now that NoNoo is gone, there are no ramen options at all sadly). The tonkotsu broth wasn’t as thick and creamy as we’ve had before and after our friend James mentioned his broth was burnt on his visit, we noticed that ours had a burnt flavor to it as well.
It’s cramped and a little expensive, but Alli and I still enjoyed our meal. At the moment it’s definitely over hyped and restaurant attendees shouldn’t expect the best meal of their lives (at least not yet). But any reverse hype isn’t deserved either, the buns and special were great and I trust the restaurant to improve over the following months.
Smoke’s Poutinerie. On our last trip to Toronto we didn’t have time or stomach space to get poutine, so when we realized we were visiting again we decided it was very important we eat at Smoke’s. Smoke’s is a very popular and quickly growing national chain, with over 9 locations in Toronto alone (plus a food truck!). My last experience with Smoke’s was when I was unfortunately really drunk at 2 am in a crappy hotel room, the night ultimately didn’t end well. This experience was much better. Their hand cut fries are fantastic, the gravy wasn’t too thick but had a great flavor and the curds had a great texture that still held up with the heat. I can’t think of too many foods that should be eaten in cold weather and since we visited on a particularly windy and chilly day, it was a perfect match.
La Bamboche Patisserie. Shopping for French Macarons is now our newest “thing” to do when in other cities (since we sadly can no longer get them in Buffalo), so far this year we’ve ordered them in NYC, Chicago and Toronto. In the evening hours of Friday, Alli and I made it to La Bamboche’s North Toronto location on 4 Manor Road just before they closed. Their macaron selection was pretty slim but we still managed to order yuzu (asian lemon), strawberry champagne, a mystery flavor, black sesame, violet, pumpkin and lavender. Not as good as Sarah Walley’s, but still a great treat. We were not disappointed.
Carousel Bakery. I’ve been hearing about peameal bacon sandwiches for years so when Alli and I finally visited the St Lawrence Market, I decided it was time to finally try one. Carousel apparently has a pretty good version, at least that’s what their dozens of signs, awards and celebrity endorsements will lead you to believe. Turns out it was pretty awesome and shockingly simple. Simple slices of peameal bacon that had been either pan fried or deep fried and then put on a fresh white roll. That’s it. If you don’t like bacon, the countless rows of fresh food vendors in this gorgeous historic building is still worth a trip.
Crepes a Gogo. We finished our day of food with a visit to Crepes a Gogo which was recommended by our friend and trusted foodie Alan Bedenko. The restaurant is a pretty authentic French crepery with a small menu and limited seating. We visited their location in The Annex on Bloor/Spandina only 30 minutes before they closed. At this point of our Friday we were in the mood for something sweet, so we ordered their Tartinade (essentially their version of nutella) with slices of banana. The crepe was served folded into itself, then wrapped in wax paper and was incredibly hot. The thin crepe was cooked perfectly, was nearly paper thin and had just the right combination of crunch and chewiness. Outside of France, it was probably one of the better crepes I’ve ever had. As the final meal of the night, it was a pretty damn good choice and I’d definitely go back again.
Considering we only had 1 day to spend in Toronto, I’d say it was a pretty successful trip. Its been fun getting more comfortable with the surrounding neighborhoods of Toronto. I’m looking forward to cross more restaurants off our wish list and hopefully we can cross a couple more off before the snow hits. If you’d like to see more pictures from our Toronto adventures, check out our gallery on our facebook page.