Monta Ramen - From Vegas to Dallas
From the outside, the only thing you would expect from this place is a bad case of food poisoning, or maybe the chance to get 1-hour business cards. As unassuming as it looks (it's in a run-down strip center, after all), this has some of the best Ramen in Dallas. We showed up a few minutes before they opened and were greeted with a jovial “Kon’nichiwa!” Good thing we showed up early because within a half hour the place was PACKED. The staff is friendly and very knowledgeable. And they seem genuinely happy to have you, which is nice.
Monta plays to the younger crowd with hip décor including a giant chalk mural with a fire-breathing emperor stirring a giant bowl of ramen. One cool thing is that orders are taken on an iPad, and you review the order before it’s placed. So if you mess up your own order, that’s on you! The beverage choices could use some improvement (the only iced tea they serve comes from a can and there are maybe 3 beer options), but that’s not the reason to go there anyway. You’ll also need to ask for a fork unless you’re a chopstick ninja.
For starters, we ordered Gyoza (pork dumplings) and Karage, their version of fried chicken. The Gyoza was awesome, especially when dipped in a mixture of their chili-oil and infused soy/vinegar sauce. The Karage, on the other hand, was one of the worst things I’ve ever had. Think McDonald’s chicken nugget meets Church’s fried chicken, minus the seasoning, doused in liquid for so long that the skin got soggy and it tasted like a mushy sponge. One bite of that and we were done.
Now, on to the ramen--the real reason to come here. The ramen broth options are limited to soy (Shoyu), pork (Tonkotsu), or a combination of those two flavors. The standard ramen includes noodles, bamboo shoots, shredded green onions, and a small portion of meat. One suggestion would be to offer two size options – a regular and a large. Currently, the only option if you’re super hungry is to 1) order two entrees, or 2) leave some of your broth and ask for more noodles. Which would completely throw off the perfect ratio of noodles to broth! I ordered the Tonkotsu-Shoyu combo and added Kimchi and Nitamago (hard-boiled egg). It was delicious and was perfect for a cold, rainy afternoon.
We also ordered kimchi fried rice. Same suggestion as for the ramen – they need to offer two sizes. Ordering the fried rice as a side for one isn’t really an option, as the only portion they offer is the size of a freaking mountain. Way too much rice, and it wouldn't re-heat well, so no point taking it home as leftovers. But the flavors were perfectly balanced, nonetheless, and we climbed the fried rice mountain as high as we could before giving in to a food coma. All in all, this place is awesome and highly recommended, with the exception of a few tweaks here and there--and the fried chicken (gross).