Tuesday, October 12, 2010


As this is the first week we've been waking up to a slight chill in the air, I thought I would write about a place you'll love spending your Fall (and Winter) nights, Monta. This charming restaurant offering the best ramen in Vegas is located two doors down from Raku in the Seoul Plaza on Spring Mountain and is probably the smallest restaurant in the city. Monta is actually so pea-sized that if you come during peak times you'll almost certainly have to wait before you can sit down. Don't let this be a deterrant, just remember this before you go, and hurry up before even more people find out about it.

Half of the restaurant is an open kitchen, so dinner music consists of the clanking of woks and pans accompanied by the chatter of the waitresses, cooks, and other patrons. You can sit at the bar if you really want to be part of the action, or if none of the five tables are available. Though the vibe is nice and busy, the waitresses are sweet and won't rush you through your meal.

There are three types of ramen to choose from; Tonkatsu (rich, cloudy, almost creamy broth); Shoyu (light and delicate soy sauce based broth); and Miso (somewhere in the middle of the other consistencies and tastes like...miso). The Shoyu and Miso ramen come with chewy, thicker noodles which I much prefer in texture and taste to the thinner, less al dente noodles that come in the Tonkatsu (you can sub if you like). All three varieties of the ramen cost around $7 and come with chasu (tender, roasted, fatty pork), scallions, kikurage (mushroom), takenoko (bamboo shoots), and scallions. You can then customize your ramen with little extras that include perfectly coddled egg, butter, more pork, and my personal favorite, Takana, or pickled mustard leaf. These don't cost a lot, so customize away. Be sure to add some of the fantastic accoutrement residing in your condiment tray such as pickled ginger strips and minced garlic.

You won't find much other than ramen on the menu, just a handful of appetizers and sides. Of these I've had the gyoza ($5.95), which were excellent one time but not cooked correctly another, and fried rice with takana. The fried rice is almost as good as the ramen, so if you aren't in the mood for soup, get this instead. Another plus is cheap beer ($2.50 for domestic).

I can't think of any other meal I'd rather enjoy on a cold day than a steaming bowl of hearty home-made soup, so I plan on going to Monta frequently this winter. If it continues to get even busier, however, I may be taking it to go in a perfectly packed parcel. I brought ramen home for Ian once and was amazed at the care put into ensuring the soup would be just as good at home as it is in the restaurant. The noodles were wrapped in their own little pouch, waiting to be cooked until they reached our stove, and all the other ingredients were individually wrapped to keep them in their peak state. Attention to detail really separates the boys from the (ra)men.

5030 Spring Mountain, Ste. 6
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 367-4600

Food Ratings:
Miso Ramen: 9.5
Shoyu Ramen: 9
Tonkatsu Ramen: 8.5
Fried Rice: 9

Would I go back? OF COURSE

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