Posted on | June 29, 2010 | 2 Comments
I was pretty excited to hear that a new ramen-ya (ramen shop) had opened in Vegas, a few doors down from one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, Raku, no less! As far as I know, there have only been two true ramen-yas in Vegas. One is still open, but on the opposite side of town from me. The other closed last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t find either to be particularly good. My favorite ramen in town has been at Shuseki, and it’s about comparable to what you can get at a slightly below average place in Los Angeles’ southbay area. Then again, that’s probably an unfair comparison, as the Gardena/Torrance area of LA have arguably the best ramen outside of Japan.
A friend brought Monta to our attention, coincidentally right before we were leaving on a brief weekend trip to LA. As is my usual habit, I went to one of my favorite little ramen-yas in LA, and as usual, it was delicious. This was fresh in my mind as we returned to Vegas two days later, and stopped in at Monta.
First, some good things to report. It is a dedicated ramen-ya, with a limited menu (a good thing). It’s clean, contemporary, and quite small (another good thing). And they are the only place I know of in Vegas serving Hakata style ramen- my personal favorite.
As for the ramen? We both had the tonkatsu ramen, and it was good. Not great, not anywhere near as good as the best in LA, but good, and probably the best I’ve had in Vegas.
The reasons I don’t think it’s great? Here’s where I get nit picky, and risk sounding like a food snob- which I’m not, I swear! I just love, LOVE ramen, and I happen to have eaten a ton of it in my lifetime.
The broth was warm, not hot. Even though it was 100+ degrees outside, this is a big negative for me. Also, the noodles were not as al dente as I like.
The broth, however, was milky, smooth, with plenty of pork flavor. Likely it had been simmering for hours, if not days. In fact, it was a bit too ‘porky’ for me, but this is how tonkatsu broth is supposed to taste. The chashu (pork slices) were quite tasty, very tender, and had just about the right amount of fat layered in them. The additional seasoned egg we both ordered was good, although a bit cold in the middle.
We also shared an order of potstickers, which were okay, but a tad overpriced at $4.50.
All in all? A good experience, and short of driving 4 hours to LA, I’ll be going back when my next ramen craving hits. I’m glad to finally have decent ramen available here in Vegas. My true hope? That the small negatives will be worked out once this restaurant has time to establish itself a bit, and Monta will be able to stand up to my perception of truly great ramen. We’ll see…