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Yokato Yokabai
Photograph: Yokato Yokabai / yoka.ca

Slurp's up: 17 bowls filled with the best ramen in Montreal

From milky tonkotsu and spicy karē to opaque shōyu and miso, thick to thin noodles, this is the best ramen in Montreal.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki
Contributor
Sebastien Helary
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UPDATE, December 2021: A few new and delicious names have appeared in the city that we'd be remiss to not include on our list of the best ramen in Montreal, including umami bombs, new ghost kitchens, and vegan options. 

Finding the best ramen in Montreal isn’t rocket science these days as just about every corner of the city core has its own claim to fame. A great bowl may be a couple bucks above the cost of the best cheap eats, but when you consider how loaded these one-shot meals are, it’s no wonder why locals and tourists alike gladly shell out for a taste. These are the places you can go for either a rapid-fire lunch or drawn-out dinner full of aromas and comfort; if that’s your idea of a good meal, you should also be looking into  plenty of other equally delicious soup-based delights found in the best Chinese restaurants in Montreal. And if you’re looking for more fantastic Japanese fare? Check out the best sushi in Montreal.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Montreal

Time Out Market Montreal
  • Restaurants
  • price 2 of 4

Consider this Time Out Market project to be the crossroads of two great Montreal culinary masterminds. It's where Hideyuki Imaizumi, whose hospitality savvy can be found inside the Plateau café Osmo x Marusan, meets Chinatown's smash hit Fleurs et Cadeaux and the work of its chef and co-owner Tetsuya Shimizu. Together, they're creating some of the best Japanese fare in town with bowls of savory ramen and curry donburi, silky onsen (‘hot spring’) eggs, and crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside karaage. One bite was all it took for us, and that’s all it will take to get you hooked, too.

Where to find the best ramen in Montreal

Truly one of the great Japanese restaurants in Montreal, Kazu’s known for serving amazingly delicious menus to long lines come dinner time. It’s their lunches, however, where their ramen can be found: A rich shoyu broth is filled with a choice of veggies, BBQ pork, chicken or tofu and coupled with a soy-marinated egg. Come winter, grabbing a stool in their tight dining space is both intimate and immaculate. As much as you might want to savor your bowl, don’t take too long; there’s going to be another line of hungry Montrealers greedily looking at you through the window.

Hotly contested as having the best in town, Yokato Yokabai’s ramen is ladled out on a first-come-first-served basis. That’s all the more precious when considering how they don’t take reservations here. Their small but mighty menu features tonkotsu, vegetarian and gomami—a soup base of soy milk and sesame paste—broths that come coupled with a small range of add-ons like karaage chicken, chasu BBQ pork or braised tofu. If you want the full gamut of izakaya fare, you go to its sibling restaurant Ichigo Ichie, but that’ll be an afterthought once you fill your belly with a bowl here.

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Proudly showcased in Ichifuku’s front window is their very own noodle machine imported straight from Japan, making them one of this city’s rare shops to truly make their bowls from scratch, noodles and all. On the menu are the traditional shoyu, miso, and tonkotsu varieties, as well as spicy tan tan men and curry flavors. However, the real standout for all the thrill seekers out there is their trademark volcano ramen which ranges from level 0 “not spicy” to level 3 “not recommended” and which will definitely get you through Montreal’s cold winters. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Even though Dalla Rose is among the shops serving the best ice cream in Montreal—and even though their frosty sales show no sign of stopping even in winter—owners Michael Dalla Libera and Nick Rosati decided to turn their frozen treat stop into a ramen joint once the temperature outside dropped. A pop-up of sorts that recurs annually in Saint-Henri, their small check-the-box menu was inspired by chef Libera’s trips to Kyoto and China: Miso-based soups with a vegan option of equal depth and deliciousness. Get it while the getting’s good in the colder months of the year (times vary).

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Find a whopping two-page menu full of choices at this ramen-forward restaurant, with their original location still open on St-Laurent in the Mile End and a more recent addition on Bishop street downtown. Tsukuyomi specializes in milky tonkotsu soups with six different takes, various toppings, and a menu that’s crowned with two vegan options (original and spicy miso). What’s more, their app selection is just as delicious as their soups, including the notable takoyakis and chasu don bowls.

Bringing soigné Japanese tapas to Verdun, the buoyant atmosphere at Kokochi is invigorating and the menu reaches far and wide, from katsu sandos to yakitori by way of chirashi dons and gyozas. As for ramen, their version of the dish is nothing to throw shade at: Picture a luxurious tonkotsu broth with thick noodles, a Nitamago egg, Enoki mushrooms, and a thick piece of fatty pork belly.

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Umami Ramen is the brainchild of chef and co-owner Cédric Charron, an ITHQ graduate, whose love for ramen brought him to stage in Japan to better learn the craft. But after adopting a vegan lifestyle, Charron was left unsatiated by most plant-based interpretations of the dish, so he created this 100% vegan Mile-Ex izakaya. The décor is posh, the ambiance is refined, the service is stellar, and you’d never know that no animals were harmed in the process. It's one of the city’s best bowls of ramen, and doubles as one of its best overall vegan dining experiences.

Doling out bowls since 1999, this restaurant’s Japanese name might throw you off some when looking at the soup section of their menu; Chinese wonton soup and Vietnamese pho are found right alongside their single option for ramen. What’s more, Tampopo’s also the name of a fantastic “ramen western” flick by Juzo Itami, so we’ll chance that this spot’s name is based on the pride they’ve got behind their own style. It’s a curious concoction of miso broth with tahini and coconut milk, and while that might scare off a puritan or two, you can rest assured that it’s good and worth the trip.

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The OG of Montreal izakayas known for its party atmosphere and lifetime supply of sake bombs, Imadake is also a serious ramen contender. Their selection has grown over the years and now includes a vegan miso ramen with oat milk broth for added creaminess as well as the tantalizing Kuromayu full of black garlic.

With twelve locations in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, and Kitchener, ramen-chain Sansotei is now testing the waters and dipping its toes in Montreal with an outpost on Ste-Catherine Ouest near Place-des-Arts. Their rich pork broth is made fresh daily, and their selection of bowls includes black garlic, spicy tantan, and tomato renditions sure to satisfy the most discerning of palates. Definitely a great spot to check out the next time you’re in the area getting your culture on.

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Originally located on Mackay downtown, the ramen shop formally known as Schlouppe Bistrot Nakamichi has uprooted to the Mile End and simplified their offering. Their new digs are cozy yet bright and welcoming, and their soups remain some of the best in the city. The menu is minimalist, with choice of white or red broth, to egg or not to egg, and extra meat for larger appetites. Also noteworthy are their vegan or vegetarian truffle shoyu bowls.

Honorable mention goes to this Japanese bistro in the Plateau. While it doesn’t make any ramen (save for the infrequent special), it is one of few—the only good one, by our count—that made space on its menu for mazemen, broth-less ramen. Their noodle dish is generally topped with uni and accompanied by a whole open bone full of silky marrow to scoop out over your meal. There’s an added crunch from fried shallots, freshness from sliced green onions, and it’s made even more lip-smackingly good with a drizzling of truffle oil.

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Sometimes we forget that ramen, with all its rich and delicious parts, is really a meal that’s meant to downed in solitude quickly during lunchtime. Kumamoto’s the only one in town that does this facet right, as the ‘dining room’ is a hall of booths you seat yourself at, place an order, and enjoy as the kitchen serves you through your own window into the action. It’s such a quiet and reserved experience that you’ll be holding back loud slurps of appreciation as you dig into a tonkotsu or tantan men with minced pork. Just remember, don’t be shy: Eating here is all about you.

The ramen counterpart to the Kurobata izakaya, the primary go-to choice here is their signature take on tonkotsu with slices of BBQ pork on top. There’s a gyu (beef) option as well that’s not found elsewhere in town and spices things up a bit, as well as a yasai vegan choice that uses a mushroom-based broth to go with its tofu on top. Ramen Ya’s small ramen menu keeps it simple, but a wide variety of options isn’t always the best indicator of quality.

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With 30+ locations around the world and a Michelin guide recommendation under its belt, Misoya has been a go-to spot for Concordia students ever since it first opened up on Bishop. Misoya is all about that miso, with declinations including the bolder Kome red miso, the more subtle Shiro white miso, as well as spicy Tonkotsu, Japanese curry, and Tantan variations. The toppings are expansive, ranging from kimchi to fried tofu and fully vegetarian options are also available. A second location has also been slinging bowls out of the Le Central food hall since it first opened.

This Toronto-based chain first touched down on Bishop street in 2016 and has since expanded to six franchises in the Greater Montreal Area as well as a seventh on the exotic island of Laval. Staffed with boisterously voiced servers and cooks who loudly welcome your arrival, Kinton does the usual suspects of ramen varieties in either chicken, pork or veg, with choice of thick or thin noodles. Also of particular interest are their ephemeral ramens of the month, as well as their three-course meals which includes your choice of ramen, gyoza, karaage or edamame, and a decadent cheesecake or matcha ice cream.

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Located near Concordia University, this Toronto-based chain from the people behind Kinton Ramen has a menu that's vast and relatively affordable. Ramen isn't a main focus here, but if you’re in the mood to slurp, their neo shoyu ramen with its unique mixed broth of fish and kombu and topped with BBQ pork, bamboo shoots and nori is always a solid go-to. It's cheap too, making its bowl-for-your-buck ratio out of this world.

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