Through the good shots and sometimes the not-so-good ones, our restaurant critics tell you about their experience, introducing you to the team in the dining room and in the kitchen, while explaining what motivated your choice of restaurant. This week: Tsukuyomi ramen.
Why talk about it?
In October, the first Ramen Ramen festival was held in the metropolis. Some twenty speeches took part, highlighting this popular Japanese dish. While the abnormally mild weather of the past few weeks is less conducive to trying this comforting dish, this event made us want to sit down at a restaurant where we’ve ordered many times during the pandemic: Tsukuyomi.
Who are they ?
Originally from Montreal, Devin Chen fell in love with Japanese cuisine after a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. In 2012 he opened, on rue Saint-Denis, Kinoya Izakaya, a Japanese bistro that did not survive the pandemic. At the same time, he cherished the dream of creating a place where bowls of steaming noodles would be the center of attention. He fulfilled his wish in 2017, at Mile End, with Tsukuyomi’s first counter. For the past two years, another address has been delighting students and workers downtown, near Concordia University. Since the beginning of Tsukuyomi’s adventure, Devin has had the support of his partner and manager, Jackie Lieu.
It was at the original Tsukuyomi, boulevard Saint-Laurent, that we landed on a beautiful Sunday. It’s pretty early, so we skip the wait (a long line has formed on the sidewalk on our way out) and sit at a table in the back of the crowded room, full of customers. Like many establishments of its kind, Tsukuyomi doesn’t take reservations (at least, at its Mile End address), but don’t let the wait put you off, service is quick and blazing fast.
The short menu offers accompaniments that izakaya patrons will recognize: karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken), takoyaki (crispy octopus balls), edamame, seaweed salad, donburi (rice bowl with garnish)… For starters, we bit into our teeth in the fried chicken, which was tender and juicy despite its very crispy exterior. The fried pork gyozas, while tasty, could also have been a bit more chewy. The rubbery salmon, raw and marinated in sesame soy sauce, that garnished our little bowl of donburi (rice simply seasoned with soy sauce), was silky and delicate.
But let’s be honest, the main draw of a visit to Tsukuyomi is the delicious ramen.
Personally, we always take the original Tonkotsu Chatsu. There is a concentrate of happiness there, the kind of dish you eat without ever getting tired. The secret is in the homemade pork bone broth, simmered for several hours, which gives it its milky appearance and strong flavor. The place prides itself on adding no additives and using organic, non-GMO ingredients.
The ramen comes with various toppings: thinly sliced braised pork, soy-marinated egg (absolutely divine, with its shiny and runny yolk, but not too much), delicate kikurage (Japanese black mushrooms), nori seaweed, and green shallots, not to mention the Signature thin noodles that are slow-cooked daily by a third party for the restaurant. For those who want more heat, choose the version with a spicy miso garnish. Together, all of these elements make a tasty ramen soup.
Those who want to explore can order the Tonkotsu Chicken or Tofu, or the version with vegan noodles and soy broth, topped with vegetables (corn, tomatoes, shiitakes, spinach…) and tofu. But our hearts will always belong to Chatsu!
in our glass
The Mile End branch is a high turnover counter. You don’t necessarily come here for a long dinner accompanied by a bottle of wine. There’s no wine here either, but there are a few choices of bottled sake, hot draft sake, and the essential Japanese Sapporo beer, served in pints or mugs. There are also three very simple vodka-based cocktails on offer: we had the Yuzu Shu, very spicy, but with a slightly diluted taste. Kids will love popping the Ramune ball, a Japanese soft drink, and of course there’s a small selection of Japanese tea (kocha, matcha or sencha). At Bishop, the cocktail selection is more substantial and the place transforms into a bar at night.
Good to know
While the original Mile End address operates on a first-come, first-served basis, however, reservations are possible at the downtown branch.
Tsukuyomi Mile End is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and on weekends from 12:00 p.m. p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
5207 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal
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