2065 Bishop St, Montreal
I was, within the past 3 months, focusing on the ramen in Montreal. The general level of ramen here is obviously not to be compared to what you can get in Vancouver or in the US given that there’s currently no real competition and the demand is not that demanding neither. Of course, it will be ridiculous to start any comparison to ramen in China or Japan. So, I’ll stick the comparison local, which means between Montreal ramenyas.
I am familiar with the ramenyas in Montreal (there are no tons of them, and it’s relatively not that pricey…although I can understand the dissenting voices about bowls of ramen in Montreal that are pricier than the finest ones abroad), but for this round up, I re-paid a visit to them to get a fresher opinion of their works. I won’t start a comparative exercise of ramenyas in Montreal since you have plenty of blog reviews that will let you do that. Instead, I’ll just tell you which ramenyas I believe stood as the finest of this roundup.
Two of them are what I believe to be Montreal finest ramenyas at this moment:
-Ramen Misoya (for the Japanese-style ramen)
-Yuki Ramen (chinese-style ramen)
***Ramen Misoya is a branch of New York’s Ramen Misoya. For what it worths, ramen fans in Montreal do consider it as one of the rare authentically Japanese ramen shops in town.What’s authentic? What’s real Japanese ramen? I’ll let that to the debate that awaits you over the tons of various examples of ramen out there in Japan, each promoted as being more authentic than the other, but good luck in explaining authenticity when it is that varied, Lol!. Something is sure, at Ramen Misoya they are clear about the ramen they are doing (which is not the case of many ramenyas in Montreal where simple question to the staff ..about the style and origin location of the ramen they are serving…was met with vague answers…it’s not as if I am asking you whether your noodles were handmade or not, which I never ask since I do believe only in what I see……..). They focus on ramen only, and on one style of ramen, which is miso ramen (hence their name), and that’s already a sign of a serious ramenya (avoiding the ‘Jack of all trades’ syndrome ensures greater focus/mastery in what you do). Even from people who loved RM in Montreal, I heard about possibility of the meat being either inconsistent or the broth too salty, so I went there at least 3 times with several weeks apart, to find out:
(1)On my first visit, I picked the Mame Miso, which my waitress described as having a taste a bit reminiscent of beef bourguignon. It has a salty kick that’s less expressive than on usual Miso based ramen, so the choice to go for those who are sensitive to salt, a medium body texture which, by Montreal ramen standard, is simply the most perfected and concentrated ramen broth you’ll get at this moment in this city. Its flavor simply superior to any other ramen found in Montreal. Then there were the pork morsels themselves: packed with great flavor, boasting perfect meat to fat ratio, balanced between ideal firm to tender consistency, the noodle thin and wavy providing the right bite to chew on. Again, the pork morsels I had were ones that the other ramenyas in town do not get close to. Even the fried shrimp tempura laid atop had fresh deep shrimp flavor, its texture great, a successful piece of tempura.
(2)On my two subsequent visits I focused on the Kome miso ramen, with 4 weeks between the two Kome miso soups. As expected from most miso-based ramen, the salt concentration is the highest of all ramen. My only concern, based on reading some reviews prior to visiting them, was that the salty-ness was overwhelming which to me would have been a big disappointment . Well, after sampling this ramen twice, I can tell that anyone who has cooked seriously for a while will quickly realize that this is not overwhelming salty-ness at all. Let me explain: you can’t get to such flavorful miso flavor full of character by trying to trim down the level of salt. Of course, you can lower the level of the salty-ness, but you’ll end up with a miso ramen that has no depth (it’s exactly why most of the other miso based ramen in Montreal taste like broths with no personality!! ). So Salty, Yes, indeed, as expected from a Miso ramen that has depth. Over-salted? Nope, not for a miso with this level of flavor concentration and great work of its texture. Any lack of consistency with the Pork morsels? Nope, to the contrary the texture, flavor, cooking of the morsels of pork were as balanced and well done as on any of the 3 visits. Noodles? Same thing: well timed cooking of the noodles, with a balanced chew (never too hard, never limpy neither). If you have been seriously cooking since a long time and have developed a sense of detail for such things as perfecting flavor combinations and textures, you’ll admire the level of the cooking here, a level that is simply strong for the current level of local ramenyas.
My impression: I was impressed by Ramen Misoya (in regard to what can be found in Montreal). For sure if you are the kind of bragging about having seen it all with ramen, that you have known the best of them in Japan, etc then NO…stay where you are, Lol…you won’t understand why I am impressed. But if you keep your expectations realistic, which means comparing the comparable (Montreal ramenyas to Montreal ramenyas), then YES, you’ll get what I mean. You boot with a huge advantage when you can clearly express what you are trying to achieve with your ramen, when the customer clearly understands the style, the origin, the story behind that ramen. It’s right there half of the fun and appreciation of what you are doing. They’ve covered that part without problem. Then my years of cooking switched to their other side, the technique, the work of flavors, the work of textures and here again, they continued to shine leaving all current competition in town, far behind.
My verdict, by the finest Montreal ramenya standards (Benchmark>Strong>Good>Fair>Weak): Strong.
***Yuki Ramen (Chinese style ramen): the only place of which you can obviously say that the ramen is indeed made from scratch since there’s no place to hide, they are doing it right before your eyes and it’s spectacular. This, right there, gives YR a huge advantage in my books. As someone who has cooked since his tender childhood, part of the appreciation of my food are elements that I can see, efforts that I can really talk for. Of course your food should be also tasty. On the aspect of tasty-ness, it’s important to understand that Chinese style ramen seem to have less daring flavors compared to most Japanese ramen, which could appear less tasty to someone not used to that kind of more classic ramen flavor profile. But their broth, toppings, work of the texture and flavors (picked their Pork ramen, they serve it with some hanjuku egg) at Yuki Ramen are as good as you’ll get from a Chinese ramenya shop in Montreal presently.
Verdict: Strong by Montreal ramen standards (of course, not to compare with Japanese style ramen places…it’s obviously not the same thing at all).