Momofuku Noodle Bar Review, Is It Worth The Hype?

The Momofuku brand is one of the most recognizable names in the restaurant industry. You don’t even have to be living in North America to have heard about it. I was giddy with excitement to have a chance to visit the Momofuku Noodle Bar in a recent trip to Toronto.

The ramen craze has swept the world by storm and I was really excited to see how the pork ramen in Momofuku measures up to others that I have had in Japan and elsewhere in the world.

The place was predictably very busy so we made a reservation for a very early dinner. we were seated quite quickly despite a busy dining room. The service staff was very polite and accommodating despite the constant air of urgency that is floating around the room.

Busy cafeteria-style dining room

The dining room was tastefully decorated but very casual. People often have to share tables with strangers so that the space is maximized.

The menu was also very simple. A small menu is typical in many ramen bars and the selection here can even be considered extensive if you compare it to more traditional joints in Japan.

The one-page menu

My friends and I went for the basic pork ramen. I tend to go for the basic offering whenever I’m trying out a new ramen place so that I can compare it with others that I have tried elsewhere.

The pork ramen here goes for CAD$14 a pop. That’s more expensive than the very best places in Japan or anywhere else in the world really. After you add tax and tip, it’s really just atrocious. I’m only speaking about ramen places so don’t go complaining that many other restaurants charge more for their food.

Nevertheless, the serving was good. It was a decent sized bowl and they didn’t scrimp on the noodles and toppings.

Pork Ramen and Pork Buns

They top their pork ramen with a massive amount of pulled pork and two thick slices of chashu. There is also an egg that’s more poached than soft-boiled. I would have preferred the egg to be more firm but that wasn’t really a big issue. The chashu slices were very tender and juicy but they needed some char on the outside. It just became too fatty and cloying without the caramelization.

The pulled pork shoulder was substantial but I’m not sure if it added to the ramen’s overall taste. The dollop of what I assume to be miso paste was a lame attempt to make the broth taste good.

Simply put, the broth was clear, thin and bland. I didn’t taste any love go into this. It didn’t reflect hours upon hours of layering flavors through boiling pork bones, fat and cartilage.  There was no lip-smacking stickiness characteristic of rich, labor-intensive ramen.

The disappointing ramen broth

The ramen was also served lukewarm so it didn’t really excite my tastebuds. Luckily, they used really good noodles. These came to the table still firm and chewy, just the way I like it. Despite that saving grace, I wasn’t able to finish the bowl since the taste really just wasn’t there.

Luckily, we had the sense to also order some pork buns. The buns use the same thick, juicy chashu slices as the ramen. The hoisin sauce really worked well to cut through all the layers of fat. Again, a bit more caramelization would have gone a long way here. Nevertheless, the buns tasted good. After a disappointing bowl of noodles, our meal was redeemed in some way.

Pork Buns

Overall, I find this place to be another case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Just because everyone’s raving about it, people seem to immediately think this is the best out there. that’s not true people, I’ve found hole-in-the-wall ramen joints that are better than this.

I give an overall rating of only 2/5 mostly because they call themselves a noodle bar and the basic ramen wasn’t good. I went to New York City the following week and frankly, my friends could not even convince me to try the ramen at their flagship location for comparison. I decided to reserve tummy space for something else and I was glad.

Momofuku Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato