Hmm…a plaza with a “Big Wong” next to a massage parlor featuring blacked out windows.
Ah, this brings back memories… I don’t usually frequent these kind of places, but this is Vegas. Though Go Ramen! gave it a somewhat lukewarm review, long-time reader “Peter” has been urging me to try this place.
Monta Japanese Noodle House is a tiny restaurant located in the back of a nondescript plaza past Las Vegas’ growing Chinatown. They specialize in kurume style tonkotsu ramen, but also offers shoyu and miso styles as well as a tonkotsu-shoyu ramen.
On a recent trip, I was able to get away from the Strip for a while and was eager to try it out. I was quickly seated at the counter by a friendly waitress who seemed amused at all the photos I was taking.
I started with an order of gyoza. The gyoza were meaty and large, and very tasty. The filling was finely minced and had just a bit of garlic. So far so good.
The fried rice was also good. Though the rice could’ve been a bit harder, it had a lot of flavor and fried rice plus fatty chunks of chashu equals deliciousness.
There’s something very wonderful going on in the outskirts of sin city. I have an affinity for small, local hole-in-the-walls, like Ichiza, with friendly service, a lively atmosphere, and of course, good food, and Monta fits that bill. When the ramen came out, it certainly looked good. There’s a nice sprinkling of green onion and kikurage in the center of the bowl, with some menma peeking out, and 2 glisteningly beautiful slices of chashu resting on top of the skinny, straight noodles.
Monta’s ramen had me at first slurp. The soup was deliciously creamy and rich, with a deep pork flavor. It was wonderful, and best of all, it stayed hot until the last drop. The flavors clung on and lingered on my tongue, and for a moment, I actually wondered whether or not I should brush my teeth that night. The kikurage, green onions, and menma all worked together to create a symphony of flavors and the sesame seeds I sprinkled in the soup added a bit of nuttiness to the taste. The slightly soft noodles were a bit of a distraction though. If only the noodles were just a bit harder…
I would’ve been extremely satisfied with my bowl even without the chashu. But let’s just stare at the picture of the chashu for a moment. Ah, the chashu…with a deeply marinated caramel-brown edge…and the curvaceously alternating bands of lean and fatty meat… Picking up the chashu slices with my chopsticks was a hard task. The delicately tender meat kept threatening to fall apart. I’ve had some excellent chashu where the lean and fat parts melt together into a subtle explosion of pork goodness. Monta’s chashu isn’t quite there and the lean and the fat doesn’t quite mix perfectly. But the marinated edge is their secret weapon and it adds a burst of flavor to make up for any shortcomings. If I could have a plate of just the edges of Monta’s chashu, I woud be in heaven.
Monta’s tonkotsu ramen is fantastically good for this side of the Pacific, and the friendly service is icing on the cake. For a ramen lover, it’s almost our civic duty to support places like this, and I plan on returning there to try the rest of their offerings.
Monta ramen gets a 8 out of 10.
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