November 6, 2014

Toronto Eats: Bar Buca and Momofuku

I recently spent some time in Toronto. While I was there "working," I did find the time to eat some good food. Toronto is huge, like the third largest city in North America behind NYC and LA, and it feels distinctly like Manhattan in many parts of the city. As such, I was in decision-making-overload trying to decide where to eat with the countless options. By chance, the first night in town I happened to walk upon Momofuku Toronto, and since I have been meaning to eat at one of David Chang's restaurants, this sounded like a good option. Plus, it was freezing, and ramen sounded good. I was dining solo, and I ordered a lot of food at Momofuku, prompting my server to say, "That's a lot of food, is that ok with you?" The Momofuku ramen was as I had hoped it would be, a very good bowl of ramen. Not life-changing, but a rich, almost-too-salty (as Chang says it should be), with a pork broth with a background sweetness. The fatty pork belly melted as it should, and there was a few pieces of tasty bok choy that I think was pickled. A good bowl, and perfect on a cold night.
This was a fun and addictive dish at Momofuku: Noodle-like roasted rice cakes with a crispy exterior tossed in a spicy chili and garlic sauce, topped with the ubiquitous scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. Popped almost all of those in my mouth.
I also tried the Momofuku spicy-grilled chicken wings and the brisket buns pictured above. The brisket buns weren't really anything to write home about, but that didn't dampen the experience too much. I'd definitely go back to Momofuku if I was a local, and the local appear to come out as the place was packed from 5:30 on.
The next day for lunch I took a tip from Bill Addison and tried Bar Buca, tucked back on a side street just outside the Fashion District. Baby octopus at Bar Buca. I'm glad I did. Bar Buca is open 7am-2am every day and features everything from an espresso bar to lunch, dinner, and a comprehensive wine program. The food menu mostly features small tapas-like plates. The dish above was a skewer of baby octopus and soppressata over whipped potatoes that were creamy and thinned to point of being sauce-like. Just a killer little dish if you are an octopus fan.
Another hit from Bar Buca: Involtini di molanze: rolled eggplant stuffed with ricotta and prosicuttio, with stracciatella and red gravy. A wow dish. Not unlike the flavors might find in eggplant parrmesan, but even richer. Of the five restaurants I visited in my 48 hours in Toronto, Bar Buca was an easy favorite. I left wishing there was something like it in Decatur or Atlanta. More from Toronto later.

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