Ramen

I have no idea what real, authentic Japanese Ramen tastes like so keep that in mind when reading my opinions below.

Ramen Misoya (Cash only with bank machine inside)
2065A Bishop (closest metro: guy concordia)
Last Visit: Jul 2016, # of visits: 6

Misoya is a Japanese chain of Ramen shops with many locations in Japan and a handful outside of it which now includes Montreal (their first location in Canada). Besides ramen they do offer some appetizers which include karaage (fried chicken), tofu, gyoza (pan fried dumplings), takoyaki and a few other sides. They’ve adjusted their menu over time but they categorize their ramen by different broths and they offer different topping combinations for each broth at different prices ranging from about $9 to $13. You can also add additional toppings at extra cost. Price-wise, it can be more expensive than other ramen shops but at least you get a bit more food for the slightly higher cost and pretty good taste.

Having tried most of the ramens in Montreal, I feel Misoya offers the most flavorful broth and gives a decent amount of toppings for the price. Most of their broths include miso and you have about 5 meat based broth choices and 2 vegetable broth choices. A $12.40-$13 ramen will generally include 3 pieces of BBQed pork belly, which is more meat than what you’ll get at any other ramen place for the same price. Plus in my opinon, they do the best BBQ pork because it’s grilled, which adds a bit of caramelization that makes the pork very tasty. It also has a good ratio of meat to fat in each piece. Even at that price I don’t mind getting an add-on sometimes because they’re usually worth it. My favorite is the miso soft boiled egg, which has lots of flavor. I also liked their fried tofu topping. Generally you’ll already get a decent amount of veggies in the ramen including menma (bamboo shoots), cabbage, bean sprouts and green onions. Although I feel they could be more generous with the cabbage. Minced pork is also included in many of the base bowls. The yellow squiggly noodles also have a good bite to them. This was the first time I was actually impressed by Japanese ramen noodles. It made previous ones I tried seem limp by comparison.

My preferred broth is the Tonkotsu one. I used to like Mamemiso but find it too strong in recent times. I would suggest trying the Shiro broth on a first visit because it’s the lightest tasting broth. Misoya still remains my top ramen choice. Many online reviewers find their broth too salty but that has not been the case for me at least for the broths I prefer.

The most recent appetizer I tried their was their takoyaki, they place the takoyaki balls in a broth, which is something new. I personally prefer them outside of broth because they quickly get soggy in broth.

Cocoro
5407 Parc
Last Visit: Sep 2017, # of visits: 1

This place doesn’t specialize only in ramen as they have other dishes but their Tokyo ramen is very good and a serious contender for one of the best bowls in Montreal. It comes with two pieces of bbqed pork and a whole soft boiled egg with runny yolk. It’s also topped with thinly sliced leek (the white part, apparently this is called shiraga negi), apparently something unique to it, I can say that they do add a nice flavor to the ramen. The broth is a tonkotsu one, maybe not as thick as other but flavorful. The noodles were fine. It could use some more veggie toppings though. This one is $13. This place opened in August 2017. I’m more curious about their other dishes.

Schlouppe Bistrot Nakamichi
2159 Mackay (closest metro: guy concordia)
Last Visit: Feb 2016, # of visits: 2

They offer a Toripaitan ramen, which literally translates to chicken white soup. It’s very creamy and a first for Montreal and not that common elsewhere in North America. The “nouveau classique” had two pieces of chicken breast and diced red bell peppers. The sweetness of them went quite well with the broth. It had some other veggies including western mushrooms. The taste and preparation of this ramen is more refined and clean than other places. At $12.50 the portion is decent but not very filling like most ramens. Overall, it’s definitely very promising. The setting is casual, and brightly lit. It’s not a large space. They also plan on offering Tsukemen where ramen and broth are served in separate bowls and you dip the former into the latter. Nakamichi opened in January 2016.

Tsukuyomi
5207 St. Laurent
Last visit: Sep 2017, # of visits: 1

This one opened in August 2017 and offers a tonkotsu broth, that is not as salty as others but still tasty. The one piece of braised pork belly is not bad, comes with spinach & bean sprouts. Two choices of noodles, either thin or wider flat noodles.  The half egg had a runny yolk. A ramen bowl costs $13. Chicken is also available as a protein. Their gomaae (spinach with sesame paste dressing) appetizer is really good. Skip the takowasa. The matcha green tea with honey is a nice drink. They also offer optional condiments like chili oil, garlic oil and pickles which are all good and add a bit of a different flavor to the broth. Overall one of the better ramens in Montreal. They also have a vegan ramen bowl.

Yokato Yokabai
4185 Drolet
Last visit: Jan 2016, # of visits: 3

This is another shop that only specializes in ramen, namely Hakata style. It’s run by the same people who own Imadake. The tonkotsu broth (pork based) is their main offering and has been much improved since they first opened. It went from  being okay to in my opinion one of the better broths in Montreal. It’s a light color (off white or very light brown) and does a nice job of coating the noodles. The broth is a bit viscous and I felt the texture of the soup in my mouth for some time after I had already finished the soup the soup. They also have condiments on the side like garlic oil and pickled red ginger that you can add to mix up the flavor a bit. They also offer nice customization options like level of saltiness. You fill out all your choices on a piece of paper so there’s little room for any mixup. But for $13 the portion is small. Your vegetable toppings consists black mushrooms and some green onions, which I consider more of a garnish. The pork belly is not bad but the two pieces are small and it’s not grilled so it does not have that nice grilled flavor that Misoya’s version has. The chicken option gives you several pieces of tasty dark meat and is much more substantial than the pork. The half soft boiled egg is done well with the orange colored yolk. The noodles are thin, straight and white, which is apparently the Hakata style of ramen. They actually hold up well in the soup and have a good bite to them. It’s not my favorite type of noodle but it’s good. The Kara-age fried chicken side is crisp and the batter is spiced nicely. The Gobo fries are also good, not sure what sort of vegetable they are but the fries are a bit chewier than a potato. The spicy mayo sauce is a nice complement.  They also offer a vegetarian broth and a couple other sides. I initially was not impressed by this place at first but it’s improved to the point that I would return occasionally. It’s not the best value but taste-wise it’s one of the better ramens in Montreal. It’s a pretty small and casual place with medium lighting.

Kinton Ramen
1211 Bishop (closest metro: Guy Concordia)
Last visit: Jul 2016, # of visits: 3

This place opened in May 2016 and is the first location outside of Toronto where there are 5 locations. They are owned by the same group as Kinka Izakaya. A standard ramen is $13 which is okay. Likewise the portion is only okay for the price. They offer vegetarian, chicken or beef broth and variations on the latter two like shoyu, spicy and miso. There is also a choice of thin or thick noodles and gluten free noodles ($2 extra) so it’s good for those who have dietary restrictions. I tried the Chicken one and it was not bad. The broth was thick and the chicken breast tasted good and was not dry. At least they give you a whole soft boiled, seasoned egg. I forget what veggies came with it but like most ramen, it was not much. The pork broth is also pretty good and not too salty either. The BBQ pork belly is not bad but even though you see them torch the meat the final BBQ pork lacks a bit of caramelized crust. If you order extra bbq pork, you don’t get pork belly but pork shoulder. This is good but it comes straight from the refrigerator so it’s cool, it’s not bad but I would prefer it warm. I’d go back whenever I’m in the mood because their ramen is quite good but not if I was very hungry.

Kazu
1862 St. Catherine O (closest metro: Guy Concordia)
Last visit: Mar 2017, # of visits: 4

Ramen is apparently only served at lunch time. It’s a pork based broth with seaweed, bean sprouts, a sizeable slice of pork belly, nori sheets and a half marinated soft boiled egg. The slight disappointing thing is that the pork belly is not BBQed like it was before. The egg was good. Broth was flavorful and the noodles were yellow and curly and not too soft or too al dente. However, I must say that I actually liked this ramen more than the first time I had it several years ago. Is it the best? No but it’s a solid choice at $12. Thankfully, we have more specialized ramen shops in Montreal now than in years past. There are other dishes at Kazu more worth lining up for than the ramen.

Ramen Plaza
6553 St. Hubert (closest metro: Beaubien)
Last visit: Mar 2017, # of visits: 1

This one opened sometime in December 2016. They offer various ramen. I tried the Tonkotsu one for $14. The price is a bit elevated compared to other places. I found it a bit disappointing mainly because the broth is kind of bland. It’s also somewhat thinner than other tonkotsu broths that I’ve tried. The bowl comes with a half egg, a good sized piece of pork belly, pulled pork and some veggies. The variety of veggies is nice but the egg didn’t seem to have much flavour. The pulled pork was actually the tastiest topping. If they can adjust the broth, it would be much better but still a bit overpriced. I also tried their gyoza which were interesting. They mixed smoked meat with pork in the filling. The smoke meat flavour is relatively subtle and it actually works. Again it’s overpriced at $8 for 5 dumplings. The complementary cup of hojicha (roasted green tea) was very nice.

Sumi Dojo
3479 St. Laurent
Last visit: Feb 2016, # of visits: 5

I liked their tonkotsu ramen. They also offer shoyu and shio which I haven’t tried. Their ramen may not be the best but for the price the portions are better than other places and it handles most parts well. Unlike other ramens, their bowl has a pretty good variety of veggies in it (bamboo shoots, leafy greens, bean sprouts) and comes with two good sized slices of bbq pork belly. The meat was pretty good with a nice depth to the flavor (I’m guessing it was grilled a bit). The half soft boiled egg was done well. It used to come with fried garlic chips on the side but that wasn’t given in my last visit. Too bad because they were a nice complement the soup but not a big deal. The soup broth is fine, there’s a bit of a bbq pork taste in it. It’s rather light and not thick or viscous. The noodles are adequate, nothing special. They’re the curly ones but not very yellow. At $12.50, the price is decent matches many other places. I have also tried a kara-age side, which was made of dark chicken meat. There were quite a few pieces so it could be shared easily with two people. Some pieces were a bit fatty but otherwise quite tasty. Not my favorite version but well done nonetheless. The non-ramen dishes I think are more interesting here. This place opened in Feb 2015. The lighting is generally toward the dimmer side and looks a bit nicer than casual but it’s not upscale decor or anything. There is quite a bit of space and also individual seats at the bar. If there are a lot of people in the evening it can be pretty loud.

Izakaya Kabocha
3627 St. Laurent
Last visit: Mar 2016, # of visits: 5

The ramen here is not bad. The most distinguishing topping is their sous-vide egg that has a liquidy egg white but I don’t believe it’s marinated. Nothing else about it was particularly notable but it was a solid bowl of ramen with good noodles for $12. It had two good sized pieces of pork belly (not grilled) and some veggies that included bamboo, sliced mushrooms, and green onions. Broths offered are spicy Miso and Shio. I’m not sure what the meat base is for the miso one. They offer a lot of distinct dishes when compared to other izakayas so I feel the main appeal here is not their ramen although they offer another type of ramen called TanTan which is the Japanese take on SiChuan DanDan noodles. Kabocha opened in Feb 2015 and is part of a chain with locations in Japan. The setting is casual in a somewhat small area with medium lighting usually.

Kinka Izakaya
1624 St. Catherine O (nearest metro: Guy Concordia)
Last visit: Summer 2015, # of visits: 4

Their Neo Shoyu Ramen used to be a special menu item but appears to have been added to their regular menu. It has a complex tasting broth, which the menu says is made of chicken, pork and fish. Noodles were the yellow curly type and were adequate. There were not much veggies, a bit of bamboo shoots and green onions. There was no egg. Two slices of bbq pork (not belly but maybe shoulder) were not bad. For about $10 it’s one of the more inexpensive ramens although the portion still feels slightly skimpy even at that price. I think their sashimi and pressed sushi are usually the best dishes to get. The setting here is casual with a fair amount of space at tables or the bar but they do play the background music too loud for my liking.

Imadake
4006 St. Catherine O (closest metro: Atwater)
Last visit: Mar 2016, # of visits: 3

The Imadake ramen is $12 and comes with a single slice of BBQ pork, half of a soft boiled egg and veggies (some unknown greens and bamboo). Surprisingly unlike most other bowls there was little to no green onions, which I don’t mind.They offer different meat options that all range around the same price. Original and miso broths are available. I had the original broth, which had a nice if subtle meaty flavor without being too salty. There were a decent amount of noodles that were firm and a bit chewy. They also seemed thicker than the usual ramen noodles and were not yellow or curly. The portions of everything else was small. Ramen is already a dish does not offer the greatest value but their ramen offers even less value compared to the competition. But taste-wise it was solid. They offer a lot of other dishes. It can get pretty loud and is definitely very busy at peak times.

Thazard
5329 St. Laurent
Last visit: Summer 2015, # of visits: 2

They probably had one of the best broths with charred leak oil in it but everything else about the bowl was barely average with a couple small pieces of pork shoulder (supposedly koji marinated but I couldn’t tell because the seasoning was so weak) and noodles that were not properly cooked with some parts of the noodle actually being super hard. A very small amount of greens, possibly spinach with green onions. It was a pretty small portion for $12. Other broths offered were spicy and vegetarian. I feel like their other menu items are more interesting.

IchiFuku
1925 St. Catherine O (Closest metro: Guy Concordia)
Last visit: Jul 2016, # of visits: 2

This place opened in December 2015 and is run by the owners of Kabocha. Their ramen is one of the cheapest with ramens around $10 (more or less) but I find it just passable. They offer shio, miso with chicken broth, tonkotsu and tonkotsu with garlic oil and a spicy volcano one. I tried tonkotsu and the broth was just okay (others do it better) and the pork shoulder was also okay. The noodles are freshly made by a special noodle making machine, they’re the thinner type and hold up well. Vegetables are sparse, slices of mushroom and green onions in the tonkotsu one. Also had some pork gyoza, which were under-cooked.

 

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