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Report: Ramen-ya

  • d

Yes ramen! It is a small and sleek place, but the Japanese noodles are front and centre at Ramen-ya. In addition to the (requisite) sushi bar, they have tasty bowls of noodle soup with a choice of shoyu, miso, or curry broth. And shakers of dried onion and spice to put on top! I licked my lips through a hearty bowl (topped with tonkatsu) and left very satisfied - it was full of flavour, had nice textures, and it was real ramen in Montreal. After year-old posts turned up few answers, now you can eat ramen at 4274 St-Laurent, just above Rachel.
P.S. They have mochi and ice cream for dessert.

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  1. wow this is great news. will try it tonight. also looking forward to the mochi!!

      1. re: celfie

        I was there today early afternoon. The real Ramen noodles soup were going in the $8-$8.50 range from my memory(might start around $7). Had to try their ramen noodles soup with slices of panko breaded pork(I was already pretty full, from eating brunch just before). It was pretty good, but I have never tasted authentic ramen before to compare. There's also ramen soup with grilled chicken(& 2-3 more ramen soup options).

        1. re: mainsqueeze

          Sweet mochi for dessert. Black sesame, red bean, and green tea if I remember the flavours correctly.

          By the way, they mentioned that they are closed Sundays.

          1. re: Daiya

            yeah me and the boys were excited to try it sunday evening and it was closed despite it saying SUNDAY on the door. quite a disappointment!

        2. I haven't eaten there yet, though my japanese girlfriend and I popped our heads in when we saw it (oh man where we stoked when we saw the "ramen-ya" sign!).

          I spend about 3 months a year in Japan for the last few years, and my gf is a foodie so, not to sound like some windbag... we know ramen to some reasonable extent. Also I'm not an "authenticity nut" either; I'm quite reasonable. But here are some facts:

          1- The people who run that place just ain't japanese. Not the end of the world, but it makes for some hilarity... read on...

          2- Curry ramen broth is a very interesting innovation! We've never seen that one before!

          3- TonkAtsu ramen is something you can sometimes find in specialty shops, but is definitely not "a standard." The menu developer, not knowing japanese, may have gotten confused with tonkOtsu ramen, which is a thick fatty pork broth, common in Kyushu.

          4- chicken and vegetable ramen... commendable ideas, but also something a japanese customer would raise their eyebrows to and say "nani? honto? iiine!" (not negative... just.. surprised ;)

          5-"Crispy Pancake"? C'mon. Vietnam maybe...

          6- ramen shops don't sell sushi. Sure the local market prolly expects it, but that's a lame excuse: if you're gonna be a ramen shop, be a ramen shop! haha :)

          7- "Sasuki", the name of their maki-sushi assortment platter, is a made-up name. No such japanese word. Maybe they meant "Sasuke".. which is the name of a character in Naruto (a popular anime), or the game show... or a popular name for ninja-characters... ;)

          Judging from the menu, our guess is the owners are vietnamese. Think pho-joint, japan/ramen/montreal-ified.

          In fact the *only* things on Ramen-ya's menu in all but the most way-out ramen shops in Japan are: a plate of gyoza and a chashumen (shoyu flavor broth).

          So that said, I'm sure it's all very tasty and I look forward to trying it out (and probably being a repeat customer if it isn't bad tasting).

          There is a very good reason why it's so hard to find good ramen, like alot of other japanese things, outside of japan: it's an art form that few people are willing to really learn. The right noodle for the right broth type, the right mix of toppings, etc etc... Some enterprising foreigners who want to capitalize on a hole in the market can't and won't make the effort. (Even though they charge $8 for a bowl of something that most likely is not at all very different from what their cousins sell as Pho (Tonkinoise) around the corner for $6... )

          where's the green onion option? the softboiled egg? the extra pork? the slice of white and pink swirl fishcake? and perhaps most importantly... the ticket vending machine! hahaha :)

          Just saying! :)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen#Soup
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen#Re...

          Enjoy!

          15 Replies
          1. re: bopuc

            We tried it last night. I can't speak for it's authenticity but to be honest I don't really care. It was mighty tasty, the staff are friendly, and I enjoyed myself.

            It's not like Pho at all.

                1. re: bomobob

                  Not in the second sentence, it ain't. :)

              1. re: mainsqueeze

                I am very glad to hear this. To be clear, I wasn't trying to slander or put em down, just pointing out the things we noticed that were telltale signs of "this is not japanese"... not that it matters, but you should know. :)

                I'm looking forward to going. Chashumen is a big fav. :)

                1. re: bopuc

                  A little correction here.

                  >2- Curry ramen broth is a very interesting innovation! We've never seen that one >before!

                  Actually many ramenyas in Hokkaido are reported to make this dish, so I think you are giving too much credit to this shop for "innovating" it.

                  And in fact the link you had provided says the exact same thing, stating Hokkaido type ramen getting mainstream in the recent years.

                  Regardless of that, as a clueless gaijin, I really enjoyed the food

                  and yeah, it was nothing like pho.

                  1. re: emerilcantcook

                    glad you liked it. ramen is treat. this one too.
                    to clarify:
                    yeah i misspoke about the curry thing. the GF said it's findable but not very common, at least not in Tokyo (and she is from Aomori which up north, near Hokkaido)

                    I never said it's like pho: I said that if these folks aren't japanese (which they aren't), there is a risk the product will be more of an adaption of their style of soup-meal rather than a "real" ramen. :)

                    anyways. i'm sure everyone's tired of me flogging this! haha :)

                    enjoy. I'll certainly go back every now and then :)

                  2. re: bopuc

                    So just for consistencies' sake, cause someone else asked...
                    We finally made it there and ordered the chashumen, shoyu flavored broth. it was very tasty, but not quite right. here's my take:

                    ----

                    it's tricky. the "issues" are on several levels, and none of them are "wrong" or "bad" per se... little things that make a japanese person go "hmmm?" (at least the japanese person who was with me ;)

                    again, it *was* very tasty. the broth and its flavoring were good, the noodles' taste and texture were good, the pork was juicy and tender. BUT.

                    NB: broth + flavoring = soup in this case

                    the soup was too cloudy for a shoyu flavored ramen. ramen stock is clear. miso and other flavors may cloud it, but adding soy sauce to clear stock does not make it cloudy. so the (nonetheless yummy pork bone) stock was not properly prepared.

                    the noodles, while chewy and tasty, were the wrong sort for this kind of soup. Too thick and straight, they are meant for a thicker soup, like the miso flavored one, which was on offer. For a clear, thin soup, you need a thinner and more crinkly noodle.

                    there were bean sprouts added. Again, for a thick ramen soup that is fine, but not a thin one. Also, the sprouts were dropped in raw. Normally they'd be flash boiled first. (nitpick!)

                    the pork was very tasty, but tasted like chinese BBQ pork. It was interesting and yummy, but not japanese style.

                    Wakame is at home in miso, but a bit funny in ramen. Not unauthentic per se, but sorta weird. Notice the lack of a sheet of nori...

                    chopped "judas ear" or "wood ear" mushrooms are a basic topping for tonkotsu (another thing on the menu, though it is confused with tonkAtsu), but not on chashumen. Notice they seem to replace the pickled bamboo...

                    the ingredients were sort of thrown together in the bowl, not carefully layered. There ended up being quite a bit of pork in this soup, but you couldn't tell from looking at it. A bit less soup and a proper layering of the pork would have been "the way to go"

                    Other niggles:
                    - no white pepper on offer. instead, dried garlic flakes and chili powder.
                    - no offer of popular toppings such as soft-boiled egg, green onions, sweet corn, nori, naruto

                    voila. I am by far not an authenticity freak. they touch on the core elements of a ramen, got some parts of it wrong, neglect others entirely, and end up with something that is yes very tasty and interesting, but not a ramen.

                    also, it should be said, this soup cost $8.50CND. Tokyo is a damn expensive place but you won't find a 900¥ ramen this oddly assembled.

                    1. re: bopuc

                      Very excellent and informative summary Bopuc! Thanks for taking the time to explain to us ramen-newbies.

                      I unfortunately have never had "authentic" ramen. Grew up on those instant ramen packages, doctored to have a Korean taste, and served with kimchi. Highly dubious.

                      I totally buy your argument about this not being real ramen. Still, it is a tasty product.

                      I do have a question, where in North America can you get an "authentic" ramen? Form other discussions on this site, it would appear that the only place to get "authentic" ramen like they make it in Japan is in Japan!

                      1. re: moh

                        I had very good ramen in NYC last year and the broth was so dark and rich and interesting, not a flavourful chicken broth as you'd find here. As I mentioned in another post, we did head to Ramen-ya for lunch today. I had the soya broth soup with breaded pork cutlet and it was nice but nothing remotely like my NY ramen. It would be nice if they offered two sizes for the soups too as it was a really big portion. I liked the crisp sesame pancake but the gyoza had too much of a sausage flavour for my taste. All in all, if I was wandering nearby and craved noodle soup I'd probably go back .. but then again, they are so close to Supermarche Andes with all their excellent tacos and pupusas, hmmm ... and the noodle soups at Wok 'n' Roll are cheaper and have all that fresh Thai basil .. I also like the udon soup I've had at Higuma if I'm looking for that Japanese flavour (even if they do have some Javanese in their kitchen instead of Japanese).

                        1. re: moh

                          Not a connoisseur by any stretch but I would say that, unsurprisingly, Vancouver is your best bet for Japanese cuisine in Canada. I certainly had sushi and sashimi that uniformly knocked the socks off places in Toronto and Montreal. And very affordable too. Here are some threads from the Western Canada forum:

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/504786
                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/502967
                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/490365
                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/516949

                          1. re: moh

                            Glad to hear people thought my ramen rambles are informative. Was starting to feel like some kinda pedant, haha. :)

                            yeah, no, instant noodle soups marketed as "ramen" in the world have nothing to do with japanese ramen. Interesting to read up on the history of Instant Noodles and how the generic name for "noodle soup", which is literally "ramen" (la mien, ra mien, etc. the kanji for noodle is recognized all over asia and has various pronunciations, but most seem to sound like "men" or "mien")

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_...

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen

                            As for where to get good ramen in NA? Easy, anywhere with a substantial japanese population. Montreal's japanese community is *tiny* (last I heard, a few years ago, 6000 japanese are full time residence of the province of quebec. we see alot of tourists and students, but few stick around). I have had decent ramen in New York City, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles (prolly the best) and Vancouver. (Yes, sushi in Vancouver and LA kick ass. They are by teh water... all sushi in Mtl was frozen at some point.) Osaka on Bleury, years years years ago used to offer ramen on their lunch menu, but the ownership changed and it's no longer on the menu (by the way Osaka is probably the best "home cooking" japanese in the city.

                            )

                            man, i talk too much... ;)

                            SO, when will we see onigiri in dépanneurs? :D

                          2. re: bopuc

                            Thanks from me too, Bopuc! Thoroughly enjoyed reading what you've posted here.

                            (You sound a bit like my Texan husband did after I dragged him to Mesquite and Bofinger...) :-) Always educational to hear how something tastes to someone who's experienced the real thing.

                          3. re: bopuc

                            I went here recently and I heard vietnamese being spoken. The whole atmostphere feels fake. I had the pork gyoza which was very good for the skin but not so good for the inside. I then had a pork slice shoyu ramen which was ok. The broth is a bit bland however so I used the fried onion shaker a lot.

                            Are the fried onions normal condiment for ramen cos it's also very vietnamese.

                          4. I wanted to mention also that we ordered the fried mochi dessert. It was three tiny mochi dumplings. One with red bean, one with peanut butter, and one with black sesame. The assortment was served with a tiny scoop of ice cream (we chose green tea but they also have red bean and ginger). It was okay but not worth $5, and we probably won't order it again.

                            1. tried it yesterday.. thought it was pretty good.
                              the noodles and broth were great but i found the quality of the chicken only ok.
                              the best part was the crispy sesame pancake. it was grilled and delicious.

                              1. Finally tried the place, and I am happily rubbing my belly.

                                We stepped in a minimalist room. A long counter with stools, a few more tables with more stools; not the most comfortable seating but good exercise for agility. I was half- full from some late afternoon snacking, but couldn't resist the sesame pancake. There came a pancake, a little small for 4 bucks, nicely charred in places, studded with some sesame bits. There was a simple sauce and a few bits of scallion scattered on top. My biggest complaint was that it didn't have enough sesame, and yes it was a little bit overpriced for the size. We also ordered some green tea, and were presented with cups of genmai cha with its wonderful nuttiness.

                                For mains, companion ordered tonkatsu with rice; mine was a curry-ramen with tonkatsu. The curry broth was buttery and subtle, but not a bit boring. The noodles were the right amount for one person, leaving enough room for the broth. The soup was topped with some soy sprouts (am I the only one person that dislikes these crunchy things?), wakame, some other type of seaweed (perhaps arame?), scallions and a glorious sliced tonkatsu. It was a pleasure to eat it, and the remaining broth was good enough to pass the Tampopo broth finishing test. Companion also liked his tonkatsu dinner, which came with some rice, curry/gravy and ubiquitous baby greens.

                                We also ordered a mochi dessert; couldn't resist because partner is on a black sesame withdrawal. The fried mochi (different than the soft ones sold at grocery stores) were good, but tiny and the fillings didn't stand up for the strength of the fried coating; we didn't get enough peanut, enough black sesame or enough red bean. The ginger confit ice cream that came with it, however, was pretty decent, and let the dish be worth its 5 bucks.

                                Service was measly, but very friendly. There were at least 4 people working that evening; and all of them were involved in some type of cooking which left some of the tables unattended. I think eventually they will realize that they need an all-dining-room person. But they were gracious and pleasant and the woman working the tables and the kitchen (perhaps the owner) was genuinely interested in how we liked our food.

                                One appetizer, two teas, two mains and a dessert cost 36 and change (before tip, after taxes). They seemed to have lunch specials too. There also is a currently non-functioning web site address on their business card: http://www.ramen-ya.ca/

                                The place was reasonably full for a new kid on the block (with some Japanese clientele), and there were a lot of people stopping by to check the menu posted on the window. I hope they will survive the curse of the Main, because I think, this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship...

                                1. I finally had a chance to eat here, and I was quite pleased. I ordered the edamame (yeah I know, not a good bargain given how easy it is to prepare at home, but I really like them and I was in the mood...) which were fresh and delicious, and the portion was generous. We also shared the Gyoza, which were expertly pan-fried with a flavourful pork based filling and a balanced, nuanced dipping sauce, portion was again generous and fairly priced. I had the tonkatsu ramen in soy broth. The broth was clean and bright, good umami. The noodles had an excellent texture, and the pork cutlet was delicious. I liked the addition of mung bean sprouts, dried mushroom and seaweed. The portion was huge and filling, and very reasonable at $8 a bowl. The dried garlic flakes added a very nice touch, as did the spices of sesame seed and chile powder. Very high QPR in my book. It may not be the equivalent of ramen served in the semi-mythical shops of Tokyo, but for the price, it is a good addition to the Montreal food scene.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: moh

                                    So the blackish things in the soup, that I thought were perhaps arame?... were they wood ears? I started to think that they were.

                                    1. re: emerilcantcook

                                      Yes, I think they are some kind of dried chinese mushroom, wood ears sound right.

                                    2. re: moh

                                      I didn't know they offered a soy broth for ramen, until seeing you mentioned here & in today's restaurant review in Hour paper by Joshua Karpati, Eaten there twice, & I don't see this broth listed on their menu(see curry & miso broth as the options). Wonder who supplies them their fresh ramen noodles?

                                      1. re: BLM

                                        We went one week after they opened, and they definitely had a shoyu broth option.

                                        1. re: BLM

                                          I talked to the woman that I assume is the owner/manager yesterday during a quick bite. My understanding was that the supplier specially makes the noodles for them. I'll try to get more details next time I drop by.

                                          1. re: emerilcantcook

                                            According to Joshua Karpati in his Ramen-ya review, Ramen-ya have tried different type of noodles from their suppliers(more than one supplier they have tried). People are talking about this establishment, & it has opened only about 3 weeks ago.

                                      2. Sarah Musgrave reviews Ramen-Ya in today's Montreal Gazette. Fairly positive review(although she only give them a 'Fair to good bet' rating). Ramen-ya now has a vegetarian broth(4 choices now). As stated here before their noodles are not made in-house, but Sarah adds they outsourced a recipe of their choosing.

                                        http://snipurl.com/2mfsu

                                        1. Had a late supper at RamenYa today. The spring roll and green salad were standard, nothing special. The goyza were quite tasty though the meat filling I found meager and lacking in something (spring onions perhaps??--there was too much of a peppery meaty taste). We had the sushi (ridiculous given the name of the joint but t it was too humid for soup). The salmon lovers sushi was great...fresh fish, well seasoned rice...not much "spicy" going on but much better than say, sushi shop. In sum the place is cute, cheap and has decent sushi. Does anyone know of better sushi (for the price) in the Mile end?? I'd be curious to compare...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: daimon4

                                            sushi 111 on mt royal is alright and decently priced. last time i went, it wasn't so hot but usually it's good. i checked out ramen ya last week and i didn't think it was so hot and a little pricey.

                                          2. I went by for lunch today. I had the pork gyoza which were ordinary and not worth their price; I think I could do better at home with some frozen dumplings from Marche Hawaii. I tried the shoyu ramen with tonkatsu and it was delicious although not authentic on several points as bopuc mentionned; I have been to Japan and had the real deal too. Anyhow, beggars can't be choosers and we are definitely beggars in Mtl where ramen is concerned. It is a welcome addition to the city's noodle scene and I will keep it as an option when I am in the neighborhood.

                                            1. Stopped at Ramen Ya yesterday, late afternoon for a pre-class bowl of noddles with Mr Snowpea. We ended up both ordering the ramen soup with sliced pork roast, except he had the shoyu broth and I went for the miso.

                                              Miso broth was good but a bit cloying, sweetish; maybe not the best thing to order in the summer. Shoyu broth tasted very nice. Pork was... ok, I guess? Didn't seem particularly remarkable.

                                              Both soups came garnished with some nori shreds and what I think was a kind of thinly sliced chewy mushroom (or brown seaweed?), along with an excessive amount of fresh bean sprouts. Basically, the garnishes were disappointing.

                                              But the biggest issue I had was the noodles themselves, which were on the wrong side of al dente. Somehow they were just a bit too tough and chewy to be an enjoyable slurp. I could have forgiven the poor garnishes had the noodles been top notch.

                                              So, not going back, that much is clear.

                                              Pleasant service however.

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                Next time try Sumo in Chinatown or, especially (tho' for lunch only), Kazu downtown.

                                                1. re: carswell

                                                  Still wanting to try Kazu (was such a lineup last time, we gave up and went to Maison du Nord). I wasn't sure about Sumo, but sure, we'll give them a whirl too. Can't be worse than this bowl of noodles.

                                                  Ramen Ya was basically a target of opportunity: we'd gone to Le Canard Libéré to pick up a giant pack of duck legs for this weekend's dinner party, wandered around the Plateau, and coming back from Névé, we spotted Ramen Ya and decided to give it a try.

                                                  1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                    Wouldn't consider Sumo worth a detour -- among other things, the noodles are machine made -- but it's a far sight better than Ramen-ya and a decent option when you're in the area and in the mood.

                                                    Kazu, on the other hand, I go out of my way for.

                                                    1. re: carswell

                                                      i have found with Kazu if you are there by 5:30 and 6 u are ok...after u are on ur own...is it possible it gets better each time I go? I am thinking of putting in a bed there; wonder if it will be okay with chef?

                                                      1. re: blondee_47

                                                        Ramen-Ya is not the place for sushi I have discovered after today's lunch. Ramen I cannot comment on - but don't go for the sushi. I am not sure the chef knows how to prepare the rice nor how to make a nigiri sushi without having it crumble as you pick it up

                                                      2. re: carswell

                                                        If you miss a true Japanese style ramen in Montreal, Sumo is it. Machine made noodle is not a bad thing, and I don't think there are any restaurants in Montreal makes hand made noodles for ramen. If there are any let me know. I am from Japan and I love ramen noodles. The best part about Sumo ramen is its broth. Sumo ramen's pepper soup is where you should put your money in. Not too thick or too oily, very flavorful gentle soup that resembles very humble bowl of ramen I had in Tokyo. Kazu is in its own league and completely different genre of restaurant IMHO. For example, if you take a look at porc or chashu, one at sumo is the most generous and tasteful. Recent trend in tokyo ramen scene is "aburi" (lightly charred porc), and I don't think other "ramen" place does. Chef at Sumo actually worked in ramen restaurant for couple of years, so no wonder. I was very impressed with the overall production, given that they don't have any competition in Montreal but they are true to the ramen in japan as much as they can. Gyoza tastes just as good. I wish people realize how lucky they are to have a place like this in montreal and don't have to travel to NY or Toronto. I went to a brand-new, Gazette raved restaurant the other day and their miso ramen was anywhere near Sumo ramen. the Chashu was flat and thin and had no fat in it. (yes, porc fat is where the flavor is, and trimming the porc fat may be healthy but we don't do that often in Japan). The noodle was crumbled and had chunks stuck so when I pick them up, it was not strings, it was crumbles. Anyways, ramen in Japan is not considered fancy, but rather it's a stable which you can be sure to feed your hunger and satisfy your taste bud with clean execution and nice flavors. I don't live near Sumo but I go there often, it's the only place I feel very happy eating ramen without being disturbed by their differences from ramen or gyoza in Japan. However a restaurant business needs to cater to its customers so I worry that its authenticity to its homeland (not those fried food, but ramen and gyoza) may backfires. Perhaps putting french fries and making a gravy soup broth may put them in the top of the chart? Joke aside, I really hope that sumo ramen survives or move somewhere near Guy-Concordia where Asian restaurants row is getting fierce (and where some current restaurant has not lived up to its potential)

                                                        -----
                                                        Kazu
                                                        1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                        1. re: chiyodamachimontreal

                                                          I'll give Sumo another try based on your words but the first time I went it wasn't remarkable.

                                                          Kazuo makes his noodles by hand but it's a small operation and only available for lunch.

                                                          Imadake makes a decent Ramen but it doesn't compare to the joints in Manhattan. I'll have to try more.

                                                          1. re: marblebag

                                                            try yuki ramen in the faubourg
                                                            you wont be disappointed

                                                            1. re: celfie

                                                              Yuki rules!

                                                              It's my favourite cheap eat in the downtown area.

                                                              I tried Sumo in Chinatown earlier this week and wasn't impressed with the quality of their seafood. Nothing tasted very fresh. I'd probably give it another shot and order something with pork next time. I think for the value, Yuki beats this place out though.

                                                              Haven't been to Ramen-Ya since they first opened, and while I liked some of their starters (grilled octopus, etc) I wasn't crazy about the ramen. Didn't enjoy it at Kazu either, which is a first so far.

                                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                                yuki is really hit or miss
                                                                it was better the last time i went, but the time before the broth was so salty that i gagged and couldn't get the wretched taste out of my mouth all day. they also refused to give me a refund. clearly someone screwed up - it was inedible.

                                                                sometimes they put romaine lettuce in the soup which is a bit bitter and becomes too soggy. it's disgusting.

                                                                I also preferred when they used braised bbq pork. now they're using a cold roasted pork which cools down the broth.

                                                                i don't know what their deal is but i wish they'd pick it up.

                                                                1. re: BarackHObama

                                                                  My coworker who favors Yuki over Kazu says the quality changes between weekday and weekend. Maybe they have someone new to train.

                                                          2. re: chiyodamachimontreal

                                                            I agree whole-heartedly with chiyodamachimontreal. I became a big fan of ramen after visiting Japan a few years ago... when I got back to Montreal, Ramen-ya was the first place I went to and what a disappointment! Didn't taste anything like what I had. Sumo is much better and much more authentic.

                                                            1. re: chiyodamachimontreal

                                                              Are there other Japanese restuarants in town that you feel good about?

                                                    2. I LOOOOOOOVE their Seafood Udon Noodle Soup! The best I've had in Montreal!