Last week, all four of chef David Chang’s new Momofukus in Toronto, Ontario opened for business in a modern three-floor cube adjacent the luxury hotel Shangri-La. Designed by architect James K.M. Cheng with interior design work by The Design Agency, the Momofuku Toronto complex includes three restaurants: Noodle Bar, an adaptation of the East Village original, Daishō, an eighty-seat space with an emphasis on large format meals, and Shōtō, a 22-seat tasting menu restaurant. There’s also Nikai, a swanky bar and lounge. Here’s the first complete look at all of them:
The Toronto outpost of Noodle Bar is located on the ground floor of the structure and seats about 70 people. There’s a big open kitchen, communal seating (they only take walk-ins), white oak walls, and “Rust Never Sleeps,” an original commission from artist Steve Keene that depicts a 1978 Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. As previously reported, this is an adaptation of the East Village original with a smaller menu that sticks to buns, noodles, and classics like the rice cakes and chicken wings; from the moment it opened, lines to get in have been out of control.
Nikai is the bar and lounge on the second floor of the building. It’s the place where you can drop in specifically for a drink, or chill out while you wait for your table. It has space for 30 seated guests and 50 standing. And it’s got plenty of vibe, thanks in great part to the vintage furniture they’ve outfitted the space with — all of it locally sourced in Toronto, team Momo assures. There’s also Uminoff stools and custom-designed tufted leather sofas. The menu consists of cocktails, beer, wine, and sake.
On the third floor is the largest operation in the building, Daishō (approximately 80 seats). If one were to compare it to an established Momofuku restaurant, it might be Ssam Bar in New York. In fact, classic dishes from that restaurant, like the apple kimchi and brussels sprouts with puffed rice, have been pulled from the vault for Daishō’s debut menu. But here the emphasis really is on family-style dining: there are more large format meals at Daishō than at any other Momofuku restaurant (bo ssam, fried chicken, short ribs, and ribeye, all in one place), but perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the emphasis extends to the beverage program: there are mini-kegs, gallon growlers, and family-style sakes. There’s also some communal seating, including a 10-seat, Chinese-style roundtable.
The space’s main design features include lots of white and black oak, handcrafted Maruni “Hiroshima” chairs, and “Excel” floor lamps and chandeliers from Rich Brilliant Willing. Oh, and those massive windows. Unlike Ssam, Daishō takes reservations for à la carte.
In the back of Daishō is Shōtō, the third tasting-menu-only restaurant from Chang (Seiobo in Sydney and Ko in New York are the others). The black granite bar seats 22, only by online reservations, for a degustation menu that’s made up of about ten courses. See photos of Shoto dishes here and here. The open kitchen was designed by Mark Stech-Novak, who did all the other kitchen work at Momofuku Toronto, as well.
Photos: Gizelle Lau