Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do the wave! Do the wavy burger? - TKrestobar

Apparently two big food things happened this past summer while I was toiling away in the boonies. One, the invention of the cronut, and two, the ramen burger. The former I couldn't quite wrap my head around, and the second I pretty much thought was a joke. Until I actually found it at a restaurant. In Montreal. Yes, folks, you'll get your chance to try to (in?)famous ramen burger right here in la belle ville, at a certain TKresto.

I first came across the ramen burger on Shut up and eat, where its writer had posted a do-it-yourself-recipe for the ramen burger. My first reaction was 'wtfrak?' and my second reaction was 'SODIUM OVERLOAD' and my third was 'If I eat this, I'm going to die'. Lo and behold, a few weeks later, my friend messaged me asking me if I have heard of TKresto and their ramen burger, to which I replied 'God no', to which she said 'Let's go!'. And that, folks, is the story of how I met your mother.

...Wait, what?

Accessibility - Grade: A
TKresto is a two minute walk away from Plamondon metro, located on Victoria street. It's rather inconspicuous, so keep your eyes peeled. Also, don't rely on Google Maps, like I did, because it told me to walk from Côte-Ste-Catherine metro, which takes an extra five minutes. Or do, you know, if you need the extra exercise.

Service - Grade: B+
Our waitress was pretty nice. She asked if it was our first time at the restaurant, and gave us her recommendations. Our water glass was always filled, but it never felt like she intruded as she refilled our glass. The chef also came to check on us a few times, though he never formally introduced himself (I think he just wanted to see why we were taking so long). The restaurant itself is pretty trendy, with wooden benches, wooden tables, and wooden everything else, from floor to ceiling. As my friend put it, it feels like a restaurant you'd sooner find in the Plateau than in Côte-des-Neiges.

Food - Grade: B
The board outside the restaurant advertises it as Filipino food, but in reality, TK offers a variety of different Asian-inspired dishes, from Vietnamese pork buns to salmon tartar tacos.

Steamed pork bun
We started off with the steamed pork bun with pork belly. This dish was a miss for me, especially after having tried the one from Bahn Mi Boys in Toronto. The steamed shell was too thick, and not fluffy and spongey enough, which could be a sign that they weren't freshly steamed. The pork belly was sliced too thick, and could barely fit in the bun, and the slice I got was 80% fat. However, I did enjoy the sauce they used to dress the pork - a mix of sweet, tangy and spicy - which tasted like a spiced up version of the sauce you eat with Peking duck.

Chino wings
At the recommendation of our waitress, we ordered the spicy chino wings. These were a definite hit. The chicken was fried to a delicate crisp, enough to crinkle when you bite into them, but not over-fried like the greasy, crunchy mess you get at KFC. Like the pork bun, the chicken is dressed in a sweet and tart sauce, with just the right bite of spicy. The wings are conveniently bite-sized, too, so they won't cause a huge mess when you try to eat them.

Sticky ribs

We also ordered the sticky ribs, which I enjoyed, even though my friend thought they were a little dry. I disagree. The ribs were braised perfectly, with the outer edges beginning to feather, and the middle still juicy and tender. The ribs were slathered in a sticky, sweet sauce (hence the name), and garnished with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

Personally, I love crunching on the small cartilage found in ribs, which a lot of people find weird. You can tell whether the cook on ribs is just right judging by the texture of the cartilage. If the cartilage is too hard or impossible to chew, then the ribs are under-cooked. If the cartilage is soft to the point where it's almost gelatinous, then the ribs are over-cooked. If the cartilage is crunchy, but can still be sliced through with a knife, as is the case with these ribs, then the cook is perfect.

Fried flatbread
The ribs are served with a side of fried flatbread, which you can use to mop up the sauce. I quite enjoyed these. They were crispy, fragrant and 10x better than potato chips.

Ramen burger
Aaaand the moment of truth. Dun dun dun. When the waitress brought out the ramen burger, my friend and I could only really stare at it in confusion, not entirely sure where to start. As you can tell, it's like a regular burger, except instead of buns, you get ramen patties. To be honest, even now I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this burger, so I'll just split up the pros and cons.

The bun worked. I don't know how, but I was expecting it to explode into a million pieces the moment I bit into it. Nope. The ramen held together suprisingly well. The crevices in the ramen patty soaked up the juices from the burger pretty well, so the 'bun' had plenty of flavour. And since ramen itself is dense and chewy, the bun never felt dry and tasteless, as is the case sometimes with normal burger buns.  I like they lightly fried the outer edge of the ramen patty, giving the burger a crisp texture, and that they kept the dressings simple. The tang from the pickled daikon and carrot and freshness of the herbs help cut down the heaviness of this behemoth burger, and believe me, it is heavy.

On the downside, the beef patty was a little over-cooked. I like my burgers medium with a pink center, and this burger was more-or-less well done. The beef patty also kept slipping out, so in the end, I just ate the buns and the beef separately. Also, there's no way I could have finished this entire thing on my own, since it's densely-packed meat sandwiched between even more densely-packed starch.

Matchstick fries
The burger is served with a cone of matchstick fries. These fries are adorable. My friend calls them baby fries that looked like they were cut from baby potatoes. Taste-wise, they were pretty decent as far as fries go. Not burnt, nice crispness, and well-seasoned. I love their spicy mayo sauce, though. It's like liquid crack.

Dulce de Leche Salted Caramel Lava Cake
I have a huge weakness for dulce de leche and salted caramel, so when I saw this on the dessert menu, I had to try it. It wasn't bad, but not as eye-opening as I had hoped. The lava cake soft and gooey in the center, and had a liberal sprinkle of sea salt on top. It was accompanied by a dollop of creme fraiche drizzled with dulce de leche. Again, not bad, but not nearly as exciting as a ramen burger.

Price - $$
We may have severely over-ordered for two people, since we came out of the restaurant dying of full stomachs. But even then, our bills only came up to around $26 each after tax and tip, which, considering we ordered enough for three people, is pretty affordable. I can't remember the exact prices for each item, but to ballpark it, the pork buns were around $5 (for two reasonably sized buns), the chino wings around $6, the sticky ribs around $8, the burger around $14 and the dessert around $6.

Overall Grade: B+
So what is my final verdict on the ramen burger? Honestly, you really have to try it once, if only for the novelty of it, because I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I can tell you how I feel about TKrestobar, however, and that is that it's a great little spot if you want to grab a drink with friends and side it with some intriguing and delicious food. The dishes tend to be hit-or-miss there, but it's worth it for the hits. 

I don't even know.

5940 Victoria Ave., Montreal
(514) 731-0638
Tkrestobar on Urbanspoon


  1. Welcome back! A friend recced this place to me and I can't wait to try it! I'd avoid the ramen buger; one of those things where I love separately xD

    1. Haha, thanks! Wish I could blog more, but have been swamped with work recently...
      The ramen burger is a pretty mind-boggling creation. Even to this day, my friend is still confused as to what exactly it was that we ate, lol.