Monta Ramen & Kuma Snowcream
After binge-watching the entire first season of Mind of a Chef with David Chang, all I could think about was burying my face in a steaming bowl of ramen.
To properly satisfy my ramen cravings, I decided to pay a visit — friend in tow– to the best ramen shop in Vegas: Monta Ramen. In true Japanese fashion, the menu is extremely focused and specialized. Soup offerings come in just four varieties: Tonkotsu, Shoyu, Tonkotsu-Shoyu and Miso. All soups are served topped with thinly sliced green onions, two slices of tender pork (chashu), bamboo shoots and the Asian mushroom kikurage (super yummy, I feel like this is a hybrid between a shiitake mushroom and seaweed).
The Tonkotsu (pork bone) broth is the most rich of all the options; it’s cloudy with flavorful fatty deliciousness. Complex pork flavor is developed through several hours of boiling pork bones, fat and collagen until the broth is almost a milky-beige color. The chasu is cooked to perfection. With two soft and flavorful slices of pork gently floating in the broth, there’s not much more needed for a delicious soup. WAIT THERE’S MORE!
Catering to a diner’s creative side, Monta allows you to get personalize your toppings for a little extra flare. To top off my bowl of Tokotsu ramen, I added the flavored boiled egg—Nitamago, and corn! These additions cost a bit extra, but are so worth it. The Nitamago is an enigma. Absolutely divine and infused with a deep, savory flavor, it proved to be the best component of the entire dish. Through research, I found that after shelling a soft-boiling egg, it’s marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sake, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. I could eat buckets of these delightful eggs. The corn was a great textural addition, adding crunch and a slight sweetness to cut the fattiness of the broth.
To balance out the soup, my friend ordered the cold noodles. Sharing the two dishes allowed us to have the best of both worlds. The cold ramen was accentuated with an impressive array of toppings. I particularly enjoyed the thinly sliced egg, the bean sprouts and pickled ginger. The freshness of the veggies, the acidity from the ginger and the cold temperature established an entirely complementary experience to the hot, rich Tonkotsu ramen.
For desert (it’s insane that we still had stomach space!) we were compelled to stop at Kuma Snow Cream because of all the hype it’s getting around town. Snowcream, for the unfamiliar, is a frozen treat that is categorized as a hybrid between ice cream and shaved ice. Other names are: Fluffy Snow, Snow Ice, and other variations of those terms. The snowcream at Kuma was beautiful but not quite as yummy as we hoped. Texturally, it was oddly viscous and gummy. Perhaps it was our flavor choice, but the green tea flavor was hardly present. I did enjoy the fresh mango and strawberries along with the sweet milkiness of condensed milk. The colorful, dusty looking cubes on top are mochi–sweet dough made from rice–not my favorite. There are loads of snow ice places around town, I will feature a better one in the future :).
WINTER IS COMING. And I cannot wait to return to Monta.