Six things we learned from the Star’s interview with Momofuku chef David Chang

Six things we learned from the Star’s interview with Momofuku chef David Chang

Momofuku chef David Chang (Image: David Shankbone)

Last week saw a flurry of excitement over the rumours and then confirmation that David Chang, chef and owner of New York’s Momofuku empire, would be setting up shop here in Toronto. But the e-mail Chang’s PR chief sent out was pretty short on specifics about the two new restaurants. Yesterday, the Toronto Star ran a piece by food editor Jennifer Bain with some additional details, straight from the horse’s mouth. After the jump, six things we learned:

1. We’re getting first dibs
Chang revealed that he’s received numerous requests to expand, but his first choices have been Canada and Australia. While Sydney’s Seiobo is slated for October, the two Toronto projects will open in late summer of 2012.

2. It’s not two restaurants. It’s two restaurants and a bar.
As we reported late last Friday, Chang’s two restaurants will be in a building beside the Shangri-La hotel and condos at University and Adelaide. Expect to find “some type of rendition of Noodle Bar” on the first floor; however, Chang is quick to note that he doesn’t want to “make anything a facsimile, and I think Toronto deserves more than just throwing something there.” On the second floor will be a bar, and on the third, a restaurant called Momofuku Daishō.

3. Daishō is samurai related, sort of
Although daishō is the Japanese term referring to the pair of swords that samurais wear in Japan, Chang picked it for its literal meaning: “Big and small.”

4. Chang was attracted to Toronto because of space.
“In New York, we’re always confined with spaces,” he told Bain. “Our restaurants are difficult to navigate as cooks and to operate. We fight against the buildings we run in New York.” So Chang jumped on the opportunity when Vancouver’s Westbank and Peterson Group, which will manage the Shangri-La, offered Momofuku free reign and generous space. Chang is not sure of the exact square footage or the layouts, but apparently the third floor will be much more spacious than the first. In total, the two restaurants will offer 150 to 160 seats.

5. Momofuku’s pork buns and fried chicken are coming
All those wondering if Momofuku’s famous pork belly buns and fried chicken will appear on Toronto’s menu can relax—they will. However, Chang states that he isn’t interested in simply assimilating Toronto palates to those in New York. Instead, he wants “to be very respectful to the food community that’s already there.” He also showed he knows how to flatter: “You guys already have a sophisticated dining scene.”

6. Susur’s not scared
In the Star piece, Bains went on to interview Susur Lee, who said that he feels no pressure by the potential rivalry, and welcomes Chang’s impending arrival. “I really wish him all the best and hope Toronto makes him a great success. Our city is such a great international city. I think it’s great to make the city bigger.” And tastier, we’d say.

Momofuku chef reveals details of Toronto expansion [Toronto Star]