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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Monta Ramen

Dallas, it's time to rejoice! We now have a good ramen shop. Yaaaaassss!! Just last week, the Las Vegas ramen shop, Monta Ramen, has officially opened. Now, I've never been to Monta in Vegas, but I've always heard good things about it. Plus, I've had Japanese food in Vegas (off the strip) and they have some legit Japanese food. I was very excited when I found out they were opening a location here.

Monta Ramen
800 North Coit Rd, Ste 2550B
Richardson, TX 75080
(469) 333-7777
www.montaramen.com
Price: $$

We went on Saturday, 2 days after they opened, for a late lunch. We arrived at 1:30PM and there was a fairly long line out front. I wrote our names down on the list and counted 7 groups ahead of us. On the wait list, you can indicate if you want to sit at a table or at the bar. I put both so we can potentially get in faster. The wait wasn't super long.. I'd guess about 20-25 minutes, but their waiting room had no AC... only a small fan. It was pretty damn hot.

Finally, it was our turn. Our group of 3 were seated at the bar. It was a pretty small space. Maybe 7-8 seats at the bar and about 10 or so tables of 2 in the entire space. It looked like there was a small section of the dining area not yet being utilized... maybe they'll open that up in the future. It can probably fit another 2 tables of four.

We've already been studying the menu while waiting. I wanted to try everything. This is the first time I see a menu at the ramen place in Dallas that reminded me of the restaurants in LA. They offered the same items as many LA ramen shops. Several different types of ramen broth, fried rice, and various appetizers. And guess what, the prices match LA as well! All the ramen were under $10. Now that's what I'm talking about. Ramen is NOT supposed to be ridiculously expensive. But it seems like the trend it's been taking since it's considered a "novelty" in Dallas?! Places like Ten Ramen and Wabi House where, after you add a few toppings, becomes like a $18 bowl of noodles. That's just crazy to me. You don't even need to pay over $10 for a bowl of amazing ramen in Japan!

Anyways, we decided to order a whole bunch of stuff. Whatever we don't finish is going to be leftovers for dinner. :P

Gyoza (handmade pan-fried pork and vegetable dumplings) $5.95~ 
These looked good. They had a nice sear on the bottom. Unfortunately, the meat inside was quite dry. I could see that it was dry when I look at it too. Flavor is not bad. They might wanna tweak their filling recipe a little.

Takana Fried Rice (mustard leaf, onions, green onions, egg, chopped chashu pork with rice) $6.95~ 
This is one of my favorites when I go to a ramen place in LA. Shin-Sen-Gumi makes a great takana fried rice. I like their fried rice better than their ramen. haha. Monta's was pretty good. Not LA caliber but a good fried rice still. The chunks of chashu was a little dry but overall I enjoyed it.

Chashu Bowl (slices of grilled chashu prok served over rice with green onions) Reg. $5.75~ 
First of all, TOTALLY did NOT look like the picture on their menu. hahaha. :( The slices were no where as impressive looking. However, the pork we did get was super tender and moist. The flavors were good too. The rice texture was nice and chewy. Maybe just a bit more pork on top would make this a good side dish, or even main dish.

Chashu Buns (steamed buns filled with chashu pork, served with Monta's original spicy bun sauce) $5.95~ 
 
My fiance really wanted these, I was on the fence since I saw a pic of them and it looked pretty sad. And they were kinda pathetic looking... Kinda flat, with a piece of iceberg lettuce sticking out. But guess what? This was the best appetizer we got. The buns were steamed perfectly fluffy. The pork was super tender and the flavors were just right. I mean... they could've put more pork, but the amount that was in there was definitely enough for the buns to meat ratio. And the lettuce added a touch of freshness. Thumbs up.

Hiyashi Chuka Cold Noodle (pork chashu, egg, cucumber, bean sprout, kikurage (woodear mushroom), and tomato. Choice of sesame or yuzu sauce) $9.50~ 
I got this. I've had cold ramen in the past and I've always loved it. I've always preferred dry noodles to broth since I'm not much of a soup person in general. And cold noodles are so refreshing on a hot day. This was loaded with toppings. They certainly didn't skimp on anything. The sesame sauce was good. It had a slight tang to it. It wasn't as good as the one I had in Taiwan...but then again, nothing is as good here as in Taiwan. :P The noodle texture was spot on, nice and chewy. I liked it a lot. And my fiance loved it. haha.

Kuro Ramen Black Garlic (pork broth, two slices of pork chashu, kikurage (woodear mushrooms), bamboo shoots, green onion) $8.95~ 
 
I told my fiance to get this. I also told him to get it with the thicker noodles. It normally comes with thin. He loved it. He couldn't decide if he liked this or the cold noodles better. hehe. This is the first time I've seen black garlic ramen in Dallas. I liked it a lot when I had it in NYC and Japan. This was delicious! The broth had a ton of flavor, but it wasn't too salty. We did notice half way through that it didn't come with an egg. But to add an egg is $1.50, cheaper than all the other ramen places. It does have TWO pieces of chashu though, and the meat was super tender. The thicker noodles were the same as in my cold noodles. Cooked perfectly chewy, it makes all the difference. I find the thin ones don't have enough texture and usually ruins the whole bowl for me. Personal preference... but try the thick noodles vs the thin and decide for yourself. So the ramen is good!! Definitely closest thing to ramen I've had in LA. Will definitely be back to have this again!

My friend got the Tonkotsu Ramen (pork broth, two slices of pork chashu, kikurage (woodear mushrooms), bamboo shoots, green onion) $7.95~ 
Normally comes with thin noodles, my friend requested thick noodles. She loved it. The broth also had a lot of flavor without being overly salty. Which seems to be a struggle for most other places in Dallas. Salt does NOT equal flavor, people!

Great first experience. They have a few kinks they need to work out with the appetizers. So I'll be back in a few weeks to test them out again. The waitresses were all very nice. And I noticed the majority, if not all, of the staff were Japanese, which is a very good sign. I also heard that they are under the same owners as Mr. Max in Irving, which is a fantastic hidden gem for Japanese food. The only big complaint was the AC... remember how I said the waiting area was too hot? The dining room barely had AC at all too. I was so glad I got cold noodles. haha.

Soooo happy the Dallas ramen scene is finally on the map now, with a place that has good ramen and reasonable prices. :) AND a great location! Yay!

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