What an amazing meal and wonderful experience Momofuku Shoto is! David and I both think so… Even though we experienced it two weeks apart!
David Chang’s Toronto restaurant has three floors at 190 University Ave in the heart of downtown, and Momofuku Shoto is at the top. It shares the floor with Daisho, a more traditional upscale restaurant. Shoto is basically a smaller room off to the side, with seating around a shiny bar. It provides a tasting menu (8-10 courses) and an atmosphere where you watch and interact with the chefs preparing your food. Great fun. Great food.
As David and I went two weeks apart, I had an idea of what the tasting menu would be all about. In comparing menus, we had just three differences. I like to think I got the best meal… But David definitely got the best experience as David Chang was in town and sitting right beside him for a few minutes. That, I am jealous about.
The appetizers to start were a trio of snacks. Each wonderful little bites, paired with a Spanish blanco vermouth. Who knew I liked vermouth?! Chilled, not overly sweet or strong. The first snack was a custard type dish with a lovely heat that lingered, followed by a smoked mackerel fritter (my favourite of the trio) and an anchovy bite with parsley and lemon.
The first course was a beautiful Thai basil branzino with green tomato that was paired perfectly with a classic Sake with melon and pear notes. Light and refreshing!
The second course may have been my favourite of the entire night. One of the chefs told me it was the first night on the menu, after being served at a private function three nights earlier (so Dave did not get to experience this one). The chef laughed that he felt eyes on him and pressure, because it took him a long time to put it together. I told him that he could take all the time he wanted if it was that good every time! The dry-aged sirloin acted like nori in a sushi roll, wrapping in a sweet and pickled turnip. It was to die for! The pairing for this course was a German Pinot Noir. The spicy notes worked very well with the sirloin.
The third course was another difference between David and I. He had a red pepper soup of crab, lobster mushroom and paprika, while I was served a crab soup with potato and oyster and a great soft cracker to dip. The mushrooms were really amazing and came from BC (check out the big plate I got to see)! The soup was paired with a deeply aromatic and fruity Champagne.
The next course was one of David’s favourites, a tortellini with chicken sausage, eggplant and black sesame. The Tuscan Merlot was a great combination for such a warm and hearty dish.
The fifth course had the best aroma of the night, hands down! My version of the cod dish was served with wild rice (that was surprisingly crunchy in a great way), with deep ginger taste and smell. Quite heavenly with a white German Pinot that was light and didn’t compete with the ginger. David’s had his cod with artichoke, olive and coconut.
Heading towards the end of the meal, the fatty pork rib with summer bean, black bean and clam was likely David’s absolute favourite, with hints almost of a complex BBQ sauce. I was interested to see it was paired with a Reisling – not what I would pair with pork so that opened my eyes a bit.
At this point, David and I were each offered an additional foie gras course – and of course we said yes! It was a fascinating dessert-like dish with marinated tart blueberries and quince jelly at the bottom, with frozen foie gras grated over the top – very interesting and very rich! The sommelier told me this is the only David Chang recipe in the restaurant (as the rest of the menu is based on the creativity of the Momofuku Shoto team).
The second last course was a palatte referesher of a corn sherbet with peach and miso. Quite a lovely and light couple of bites.
I definitely got the best of the last dessert course! David wasn’t fond of his pistachio ice cream with strawberry (he thought it tasted more like avocado). I loved my thyme and buttermilk cake with a crab apple sorbet – wonderfully paired with a sparking rose wine from France.
What a spectacular restaurant Momofuku Shoto is! The service and ambience is impeccable and it was a great experience for a solo diner, as you have lots to look at and people to interact with around the bar. A fancy older European gentleman sat next to me for the last half of my meal and we chatted here and there about the food and ingredients. He thanked me for being good company and asked if I was in the business. I am pretty sure he meant the restaurant business 😉