Bad “Ra”-mance: The Quest for The Perfect Bowl of Ramen in Montreal

Kazu
Kazu

Article and photography by: Clare Li

 

 

We’ve been waiting for Ramen joints to explode in Montreal for at least the last five years, and finally it has! As self-professed Japanese noodle-broth-egg-enthusiasts, we have scoured the city for a piping hot bowl of delicious, rich, umami-packed lunch or dinner, which is pretty much what our souls crave when the weather is less than ideal.

 

When I eat ramen, I want to be brought back to that slightly breezy Tokyo day back when I was 17 years old, still amused by the plastic food displays, and then plunking yen into a ticket dispenser that not only notifies the chef of what to make, but also limits the unnecessary chit-chat to getting your dreamy, creamy tonkotsu bowl of goodness. Fast forward a few years, of returning back to Japan and having one of your good friends bring you to this steamy, tiny restaurant 6 blocks away from Akihabara (Electric town), and tasting what I consider, the best ramen I’ve had in years. It’s hard to forget the first bowl, and the bowl that made you wonder if you could indeed marry a bowl of wheat noodles, pork broth and the marinated egg with that insanely creamy yolk that no other egg would ever hold a light to.

 

Ramen in Montreal hasn’t quite reached that level yet, but I can assure you that with time, love and patience, it has all the potential in the world to. So we decided to go on a ramen tour and give you our thoughts. *Note: some restaurants we went twice, visits were a month or two apart to give it good thought.

 

Misoya & Ramen-Ya

We went to both of these restaurants, but truth be told, we weren’t too impressed. We decided though it wouldn’t be fair to break them down like the other places because aside from them being lackluster, we don’t remember the experiences enough and didn’t care to go back twice.

Misoya Ramen Misoya Spicy Ramen

 

Ikazaya Iwashi

They may have the best chicken karaage and sardine dishes around, but this story is about ramen, and unfortunately we didn’t love it. Choice of spicy, tonkotsu and vegetable, we tried spicy and tonkotsu.

 

Broth: In our first visit, the spicy ramen had sliced jalapenos in it, and the hotness and broth just didn’t sit well. The broth was bland. During the second visit, the spiciness was overpowering anything the broth had to offer.

 

Iwashi Ramen

 

Noodles: Good noodle texture in the second visit, they were springy.

 

Egg: Really enjoyed the egg both times! Loving the full egg offering.

 

Extras: Wow their donuts are just too, too good!

 

Saka-Ba!

 

No ramen love here and I wanted so badly to love it, because Jun-I is the bomb! The ramen needs some serious love and attention here. We had the choice of Shoyu and Ebi Ramen in our first visit, and then in the second visit offered Tori Shio. We tried Shoyu and Ebi first, then second Tori Shio and Ebi.

 

Saka Ba Ebi Ramen Saka-Ba Tori Shio Ramen

Broth: Shoyu broth was very bland, Ebi Broth stood up much better in comparison, but still as lobster broth, I expected it to be delicate, rich and flavourful, and it really was not. Shio broth is generally milder in taste when up against counterparts like tonkotsu, but in this case, it provided no comfort to my ramen soul. The seasoned ramen noodles overpowered the lacking broths in our opinion. There was also a distinct oiliness in the broths that didn’t settle well for us, this might be from the chashu.

 

Noodles: Noodles served to us were too overcooked, and it’s hard to slurp back noodles that are too chewy. They were also more seasoned than the broth.

 

Egg: The eggs in our second visit were ever so slightly over cooked.

 

Extras: The Corn Cari donuts were exceptional!

 

Biiru

 

Super cute Izakaya, the décor was lovely, and with only one kind of ramen to choose from, the ramen was ok.

 

Broth: Miso was the name of the game, but I wished for another dimension to the taste. At first, I appreciated the fuller flavour of the miso compared to some of the other joints in the city, but it fell flat as far as having more flavor combinations.

Biiru Ramen Biiru restaurant

 

Noodles: The noodles were tender, and cooked well.

 

Egg: was a pretty darn delicious half egg, wish there was more.

 

Extras: The chashu came on two sticks, and was more similar to Chinese-styled BBQ pork, I could have done with a few less bean sprouts personally. The ambience was pretty and it looks like a great place to have after work drinks.

 

Imadake

 

Coming in a distant second, Imadake puts out a decent bowl. They have choice between original or miso broth and 5 different kinds. I’m a pretty huge Butter Corn ramen fan, and my ramen partner in crime opted for their house special Imadake Ramen (with pork belly) also miso broth. We gave them two tries because our expectations on the first go were probably unrealistic (I had just got back from Vancouver after stellar ramen service).

 

Imadake Ramen Imadake Ramen Imadake Butter Corn Ramen

Broth: Pretty good, more complex than many, it had layers of taste. It did indeed give me a warm hug.

 

Noodles: The second time around the noodles were much better than the first. We had overcooked noodles the first time.

 

Egg: The egg could definitely use a bit of work. It was soft and not overcooked, but it lacked flavour and was a bit cold. Perhaps though, they don’t marinate the eggs here.

 

Extras: Big fans of their ebi-mayo!

 

 

Kazu

 

Hands down the best Japanese ramen this city has to offer, the only problem is that it’s only offered for lunch, so decidedly it’s our weekend joint. We had the choice of two: curry and regular ramen, so we decided to go with a bowl each.

 

Broth: Easily the tastiest, rich and most complex broth in the city. You can feel the love. The curry broth was tasty, mildly spicy, and the regular broth was like a gentle hug.

 

Kazu Curry – Regular Ramen Kazu Ramen

Noodles: Loving the al dente noodle, definitely not overcooked, and perfect for slurping.

 

Egg: Soft and delicious, only thing I could want more, is more than just half an egg.

 

Extras: Why not top off your lunch with their homemade ice cream? Many flavours available including: Sake, Plum, Green Tea and Maple Chip.

 

Kazu Green Tea Ice Cream
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