Oh, Canada! You have provided me with such great material that I can’t wait to tell everyone about day two of our adventures in Toronto. Today’s post mainly revolves around our trip to Niagara Falls and to an extremely popular restaurant with a unique and fun to say name.
We woke up to a wonderfully gray sky that quickly developed into a legitimate downpour. That combined with the speedy Canadian drivers made the trip all the more hazardous.
Luckily, we made it to the famous falls in one piece, but there was no sign of the rain abating. We ran through the drops and around the hordes of tourists to the visitors’ center to get our adventure passes, and what an adventure we had. First, there was the cutesy video they showed us that was pure edutainment explaining how the falls were formed via an anthropomorphic beaver and owl. That then led to a large chamber that highlighted Niagara’s Fury which amounted to a 360 degree screen that went along with a 4-D movie complete with rain which meant we had to wear ponchos through the entire film. The only time I felt scared/disturbed was afterward in the gift shop that the movie chamber was connected to, naturally. The main reason why I was scared was due to the demonic looking beaver plushes. However, not all was disturbing since we had fun and made some friends along the way. We quickly moved on to the fun nature walk that went along the Niagara river, and it was weird to think that we were in another country even though the USA was literally a stone’s throw away in the form of New York State. Due to the rain, there also weren’t a lot of tourists on this part of the tour, so we were delighted with that development while soaking in the beautiful surroundings. My socks also soaked up the river when a huge wave crashed against the rocks right where we were standing. After all of that walking, we worked up an appetite, so we decided to try another Canadian tradition that Aaron recommended: Pizza Pizza. When Janice and I first heard him say it, we thought it was Little Caesar’s due to the mascot’s signature catchphrase. We were wrong! Turns out it is a Canadian institution that apparently also claims to have done a lot of pizza firsts like putting pineapple on a pizza, using delivery bags, and using virtual advertising. It’s their go-to for fast food pizza; it’s not amazing but not terrible, as Aaron put it. We agreed with his assessment. We both got slices of veggie pizza that was fresh and covered with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. We also split a side of fries that were well made, and I spiced it up with this lemon pepper seasoning they offered on the side. ‘Twas a nice sour and spicy kick to the delicious fries. I’d recommend trying this Canadian culinary staple. Once we were fueled up, we got on the Hornblower ship to see the falls. It was cool, wet, and wild as the wind was blowing up our ponchos a la Marilyn Monroe. After taking a ton of pictures while looking like sea hobos wearing trash bags, we left Niagara for Toronto. We had a delicious dinner date planned at David Chang’s Momofuku. It was another restaurant that was participating in Toronto’s Summerlicious restaurant week, so we were excited to finally be able to try this high end establishment. The head chef who created Momofuku, David Chang, is one of the biggest names in the cooking game.
He has tons of accolades, experience, and a personality/temper that is larger than life that also reflects his passion for finding and creating good food with simple ingredients. This outlook on cooking has resulted in Momofuku expanding to a ton of other franchises like Ma Peche, Ssam Bar, and Milk Bar in NYC. The Toronto location we were at was relatively new and consisted of five different mini-restaurant areas: Shoto, Daisho, Milk Bar, Nikai, and Noodle Bar. Clearly, there is a lot of Asian influence in his menus based on the names of the restaurants. The interior was super busy but modern in design.Noodle Bar was at the bottom with communal seating while the other areas were more traditional in nature. I’d highly recommend making reservations at Momofuku before you go. If you’re wondering, Momofuku actually means “lucky peach” in Japanese, and I think a bit of that luck rubbed off on us since they put us right at the bar in front of the open kitchen. It was all hustle bustle in the narrow corridor as we watched these artists whip together bowls of ramen, appetizers, and boil noodles like their lives depended on it. We were ready to eat with the same gusto. The menus were handed out to us, and we had a lot of tough decisions to make in a first world problems sort of way. In the end, we made our choices which consisted of four courses for 25 bucks, and they came out very quickly based on how the chefs were working. The first course took the form of a fancy fried jalapeno pepper for me. It was stuffed with cream cheese and sturgeon, apparently and had a side of ssam sauce. It was ok, and I didn’t even taste the sturgeon. The ssam sauce pepped up the tiny pepper a bit with a sweet hint, but I’ve had better ones at your average bar. Janice’s slightly larger hot and honey chicken wing was a better choice. It lived up to its name with a garlic, sriracha, and scallion glaze that was both savory and sweet with a subtle spiciness. After those tidbits, we got our bun course. They were clearly inspired by the Chinese buns used for Peking duck, and they were hearty little buggers. I’d recommend these menu items for appetizers. My spicy lamb bun was very interesting. The fluffy light bun encased a hunk of spiced lamb, bean sprouts, lettuce, and spicy mayo. Biting into it, it tasted just like an Asian inspired gyro sans tzatziki sauce. Janice’s pork bun was average. Yeah, the ingredients were fresh, and it was well made. It was just a bit blander compared to my vivacious lamb bun. Then our entrees finally came out. My
very extremely spicy noodle bowl was vibrant in terms of presentation and flavor. Our waiter was pretty skittish when I said I wanted it spicy and even described it as “stupid spicy”, but I was skeptical of his assessment given my previous tussles with fiery meals. He brought it out with a side of soy milk just to make sure the white boy didn’t lose his mind and taste buds, but I think I lost them a long time ago when I discovered ghost pepper sauce. It was spicy but with plenty of savory, smoky flavor. It could have been a bit better if there was some sort of meat in it, but I was still happy with my choice. If you like spicy food and have a tolerance for habanero or higher fire, then get this dish.
My girlfriend tried a bit, but immediately ran to her glass of water. Janice’s Momofuku ramen was more savory than spicy. It looked exactly like the ramen I tried in Japan, and it was just as tasty. The fish cake, eggs, and melt in your mouth pork all were bobbing in a rich beef based broth. The pork was exceptional with clear layers of succulent meat and juicy fat.
The noodles were plentiful and slurp-worthy,
so it was much more of a solid choice if you appreciate good ramen and less brash flavors compared to my spicy noodles. Rounding out the meal were our desserts. I decided to try Milk Bar’s cereal soft serve. It looked like a run of the mill vanilla cup of ice cream, but its taste was unique. It literally tasted like milk and cereal! It was a cool concept, and I’d recommend it. Janice was less satisfied with the crispy coffee panna cotta or “cooked cream” in Italian. She was entertained with the chocolate balls on top that looked like rabbit poop and the coffee layer was delicious, but the custard wasn’t up to snuff. We left the restaurant greatly satisfied, and it was a pleasing end to a very eventful day. If you’re into Asian cuisine or comfort food or both, head on down to Momofuku if you have a chance.