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
Chef: Executive chef Paula Navarrete (Daishō, Sanagan’s, North 44)
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.
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.
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.