What’s on the menu at Kojin, Momofuku’s new Toronto restaurant

What’s on the menu at Kojin, Momofuku’s new Toronto restaurant

Name: Momofuku Kōjin
Contact: 190 University Ave., 2nd floor, 647-253-8000, kojin.momofuku.com
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Previously: Momofuku Daishō and Shōtō
Owners: Momofuku
Chef: Executive chef Paula Navarrete (Daishō, Sanagan’s, North 44)

The food

Kōjin is the Japanese god of the hearth, and this new Momofuku concept takes its name to heart. “This is our take on a steakhouse,” says Navarrete. “Just about everything on the menu touches the fire.” Even dishes that don’t appear to be fire-singed are exposed to the hearth in sneaky ways. A hot sauce, for instance, is made from peppers buried under still-burning coals, while another dish is finished with smoked salt. As it was at Daishō, the focus is on shareable plates, but there’s been a shift from Asian to Latin American food, highlighting seasonal Ontario ingredients. Navarrete is quick to stress that although the menu reflects her Colombian upbringing, the food’s equally informed by her six years at Momofuku. Kimchi and XO sauce are still found in the odd dish, but the starch du jour is now potatoes, not noodles, and there are six different types of tubers on Kōjin’s menu.

Every table is served a plate of seasonal pickles as an amuse bouche. This particular plate is made up of charred corn, peaches and green tomatoes, pickled in a white kimchi juice.

 

It took Navarrete months to perfect this corn flatbread recipe, a riff on the bing that Momofuku CCDC and Majordomo serve. It tastes like a cross between an English muffin and an arepa. It’s pictured here with a spiced honey (chili, coriander, star anise) and some grass-fed butter. $6.

 

The flat bread also comes with a plate of Niagara ham dotted with pickled sour cherries. $17.

 

“If all greens tasted like this I would eat a lot more salad,” says Navarrete about the greens from New Farm. This mix of arugula, mustard greens and mizuna is topped with aged gouda and some ground Niagara ham. The salad is simply dressed in a canola vinaigrette. $15.

 

This side stripe shrimp ceviche is topped with cold-pressed canola oil, chive oil and a hit of lime juice. $21.

 

This steak is served with fries and a charred green chili. The Ontario-raised cattle are a Hereford-Angus cross raised on grass and finished on barley. The animals are butchered in-house with the off cuts turned into sausages. $35.

 

Mmmmmeat.

 

The drinks

Old World bottles dominate the lengthy wine list, which focuses on natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Of the half-dozen sakes on offer most are imported from Japan, and other than Singapore’s Tiger, all of the beer is from Ontario brewers. The cocktail card includes a few classics (caipirinha, pisco sour) alongside signature creations like the Smoke and Mirrors, which mixes tequila with yuzu, chamomile and togarashi agave.

Smoke and Mirrors mixes tequila with yuzu, chamomile and togarashi agave. $15.

 

The Martinez is made with gin, vermouth maraschino and orange bitters. $18.

 

The Highball is made with Japanese whisky, pecan-cedar bitters and soda. $18.

 

The space

A new campfire smell permeates the Momofuku complex. Shōtō and Daishō’s former spaces have been combined into a 98-seat room. A white marble bar now separates the room, previously divided by a wall, and what was once Shōtō is now moodier, with deep U-shaped oxblood booths illuminated by the flickering fire.

Navarrete brought many of the tchotchkes decorating the space from home. She spray painted Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head gold to match the restaurant’s gold accents.

 

Navarrete is plant-obsessed. She sourced these from Crown Flora.

 

This is the kanji character for fire.