japanese-restaurant-noren-montreal © Will Travel for Food

Okonomiyaki (top left), takoyaki (bottom left) and Japanese beef stew at Montreal’s Noren restaurant

If I have to pick a food trend that we have already seen some of and will continue to notice, it’s diminutive restaurants that specialize in one (or two) dishes. Montreal’s Japanese restaurant NOREN is such a place. The tiny Japanese establishment located on the west side of Rachel Street in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood only serves a handful of dishes.

The light-filled dining room holds 10 stools only, half of which wrap around the bar that spreads along one of the walls. Behind the counter is where the action is. Co-owners and partners in life Élyse Garand and Hidenori Tsuda share the cooking tasks while Élyse also takes care of the service. The menu is written on a floor to ceiling blackboard and the decor is minimalist yet punctuated by elements that hold the attention, such as the bright orange vintage TV.

japanese-takoyaki-noren-montreal © Will Travel for Food

Behind the bar at Noren is where the action happens

Japanese snacks

Noren specializes in Japanese street food and snacks. Two specialties have a permanent spot on the menu: takoyakis and okonomiyakis. Takoyakis are ball shaped pieces of dough cooked in a special pan and traditionally stuffed with a chunk of octopus. The serving of half a dozen balls is then topped with a couple of sauces and a handful of bonito flakes that dance on the plate as a reaction to the heat. It’s really quite mesmerizing and the takoyakis are delicious. I first tasted takoyakis at a food festival in Montreal a few years ago and fell in love with the delicious snack. They’re hard to find in Montreal so I was happy to see them on Noren’s menu which also serves a vegetarian version of the bites.

Okonomiyakis are savoury Japanese pancakes and the Noren version is topped with pork and shiitake mushrooms. It’s so satisfying and delicious and a tad addictive. You’ve been warned!

In addition to these two specialties, Noren also serves miso soup, a salad, edamame and a weekly dish which happened to be a hearty, dark and rich Japanese beef stew served with a side of white rice when I was there last.

noren-restaurant-montreal © Will Travel for Food

Noren’s minimal yet eclectic decor

The ambiance at Noren is as special as the food. The size of the restaurant and the friendly, laid-back service create a cozy ambiance that will make this spot your new favourite snack bar or lunch place. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll love it!

noren-japanese-restaurant-montreal © Will Travel for Food

Noren serves Japanese snacks and street food

77 Rachel West, Montreal
+1 514 397 1141

Opening hours:
Wednesday: 11:30am – 4pm
Thursday & Friday: 11:30am – 3pm & 5pm – 9pm
Saturday: 5:30pm – 9pm
Sunday: 12pm – 4pm

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