Unless you’ve been to a real Japanese ramen house, forget everything you think you know about ramen. This is nothing like the brick of dried, tasteless noodles with a packet of msg that you might have subsisted on while working your way through college. The ramen at Monta (5030 Spring Mountain) is as close to Maruchan Ramen as the fresh-made pasta at your favorite Italian restaurant is to Chef Boyardee. No, I take that back, it’s not even that close.
There is a perpetual line-up at Monta, and for three good reasons: The food is amazing, it’s very affordable, and the restaurant consists of only five tables and a ten seat bar. Service is quick and efficient, though, and most people don’t linger too long, so we only had to wait a few minutes for a table.We started by sharing an order of Gyoza ($5.15). These pan fried dumplings, filled with fine ground pork and vegetables were served golden brown. The outside of the dumpling comes out al dente, with just a touch of crunch, while the inside is warm, soft and flavorful. A pretty good start. I ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen ($6.95), with Nitamago ($1.50 add-on) which is Monta’s signature dish. The base for this soup is a strong, rich, silky smooth pork broth. This is one of those savory broths that is the result of hours of boiling bones and fat – transforming remnants into something decadent (much like oxtail soup).
Soaking up that broth are gobs of soft, thin, fresh house-made noodles and a pair of thin slices of chashu (pork belly). Some fresh chopped scallions serve as garnish. The soup is rich and flavorful, the noodles soft and there is hardly a hint of spice or salt. The meat is thoroughly cooked and a little firm, but flavorful. The egg is just shy of hard boiled, and it goes with this soup like a fried egg goes on a burger. This is comfort food, for sure.What surprised me most about the food at Monta was not the delicious ramen soup – that I had expected. My girlfriend went out on a limb and got something I never would have thought to order – Kimchi Fried Rice ($6.95). Boy am I glad she did. It’s… just… wow! Perfectly cooked rice with just a hint of kimchi flavor – not too spicy, not to oily or greasy. It’s my new favorite fried rice dish.
While I do recommend trying the fried rice and gyoza, most people come here for the ramen. And with good reason. If you want a hearty noodle soup that’s easy on the salt and spice and heavy on the flavor, Monta Ramen has you covered. Forget that shiny package in the Asian food aisle at the supermarket. This is what ramen is supposed to be.
- If you like it spicy, don’t fret. There are numerous options at your table to spice up your dish.
- Monta is in good company – other restaurants off the same parking lot include Aribura Raku, Kabuto, Big Wong and Trattoria Nakamura-Ya. More on these restaurants soon.
- Monta just opened a new location in Henderson at 9310 South Eastern Ave #116.
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