A decade after Torontonians first lined up hours for bowls of ramen, platters of bossam and pork belly baos, New York-based chef David Chang’s restaurant company Momofuku announced that it is ceasing operations in the city on Dec. 23.
BlogTO first broke the news Thursday about company’s exit from the city, quoting an anonymous former employee. The Star reached out to a representative for Momofuku and was sent the following statement on Friday afternoon as Toronto employees were informed of the impending closure:
“After 10 incredible years at 190 University Avenue, momofuku Toronto is closing on December 23. We have decided not to renew our lease at the location,” the statement said. “We are deeply grateful to the Toronto community for the support over the past decade. Thanks to the teams past and present and the guests who joined us over the years for making momofuku Toronto such a special part of the Momoverse. Toronto will always feel like home to us.”
Momofuku is also offering employees of the Toronto operations who stay through the closure a $2,000 retention bonus, said Monica Narula, a spokesperson for company.
Momofuku opened to much fanfare in Toronto in September 2012 inside a stand-alone three-story glass building at 190 University Ave. Each of the building’s floors had a different restaurant concept. On the first floor is a ramen restaurant Noodle Bar, followed by second floor bar Nikai and third floor restaurants Shoto, which served tasting menus, and Daisho, which did family-style platters.
The following year, Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi opened a retail outpost of her dessert concept Milk Bar inside the building, selling its famous Compost Cookies, Cereal Milk and Milk Bar Pies (formerly known as Crack Pies).
In 2018, the third floor Shoto and Daisho made way for Kojin, first helmed by chef Paula Navarrete who brought a Colombian influence to the menu and later chef Eva Chin (now at east-end brewery The Avling) was recruited from Vancouver to be in charge of the Kojin’s kitchen just before the pandemic.
Kojin recently reopened this past March for dine-in with a new menu and chef, Eric Seto, and was a restaurant recommended by the Michelin guide last week.
In addition to restaurants, Chang founded the now defunct-Lucky Peach magazine, created and starred in the Netflix series Ugly Delicious for two seasons; wrote cookbooks; and in 2020, released a memoir, which prompted a former New York employee to write an essay that calls out Chang for fostering an abusive work environment.
Chang responded in the essay saying that he didn’t remember the specific events detailed in the piece, but says it was consistent with his behavior at the time and apologized.
Outside of Toronto, Momofuku currently has restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In the last two years Momofuku has closed some of its other restaurants: CCDC in Washington, DC; Nishi in New York City; Momofuku Seibo in Sydney, Australia; and Moon Palace and Majordomo Meat & Fish on the Las Vegas strip.
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