Japanese cuisine is very new to Québec City. Sure, the city has a profusion of sushi joints (most of which serving rolls that have nothing to do with Japanese sushi) and there are fast-food restaurants that offer teriyaki and yakitori, but until recently, there was almost nothing a traveler coming back from Japan would have recognized. That all started to change a few years ago when the Hosaka brothers opened their first restaurant, Hosaka-Ya, in the up-and-coming Limoilou neighborhood, and started enticing Québec’s taste buds to authentic Japanese ingredients and flavors. Suddenly, dishes as simple as steamed, salty edamame pods were exciting and people began to crave octopus salad.
It was only a matter of time before the brothers, fed up of longing for good-quality ramen so much between each of their trips to Japan, gave in to the idea of opening a true, “just like in Tokyo”, ramen joint, simply named Hosaka-Ya Ramen. A breath of fresh air in Québec’s food scene, it was an immediate hit with the locals.
Hosaka-Ya Ramen is a small and cozy restaurant that feels surprisingly authentic. Regulars love to sit at the bar to get the breeziest service, be entertained by the kitchen action and chat with the owners, while friends and couples gather up around tables set close to one another along the wall facing the bar. The décor is simple and traditional, and the ambiance is boisterous, just like it should be.
The first hint about the authenticity of a ramen joint is the first word that is said when one steps into the restaurant: at Hosaka-Ya Ramen, just like in New York and Tokyo, a loud “Irasshaimase!” welcomes you in, servers and cooks taking a second to acknowledge newly arrived guests. Yes, that means that you’ll hear that same greeting over and over again over the course of your meal, but everyone ends up loving it as it just adds to the warmth of the place.
The service at Hosaka-Ya Ramen is probably what makes the place feel so very Japanese: it’s efficient, quick (if not a little brusque) and polite, and everything is done with big smiles. Servers are eager to explain the menu to first timers, and they swiftly come back with your order, giving you no time to drool over your neighbor’s dishes.
The menu at Hosaka-Ya Ramen is midway between that of a ramen shop and an izakaya pub. Of course, their trademark is ramen: you choose between the shoyu (Tokyo-style, soy sauce-based) or the miso (Sapporo-style, miso-based) broths, and then decide how generous you want your ramen to be. Two or five chashu pork slices? One or two soft-boiled egg halves? The handmade noodles are a delight and the crisp vegetables make a nice contrast with the richness of both types of broth. There is also a vegetarian option made with a 100% miso-based vegetarian broth and topped with an extra serving of vegetables and Japanese mushrooms.
Although the soups are tasty and satisfying (especially in the heart of Québec’s cold, snowy winters), hungry visitors should not overlook the rest of the menu. Small “tsunami” dishes (Japan’s answer to tapas) are perfect for sharing and very few can resist the tender gyoza dumplings. On the sweet side of things, Hosaka-Ya Ramen has acquired a surprising notoriety for the ice creams they serve: intriguing savory flavors such as azuki beans, soy sauce, umeboshi plum and green tea are balanced with just enough sweetness to round up a very satisfying (and filling) meal.
- Although the restaurant does not take reservations, quick service ensures that it’s possible to get a table quickly most nights of the week.
- The restaurant’s hidden gem is their amazing Kara Age chicken (spicy Japanese fried chicken served with a citrus mayo).
- The shoyu broth is the most accessible of the two types of ramen broth that are on offer, and it will be liked by everyone, especially those who’ve never had Japanese ramen before. The miso broth has a deeper flavor and intensity that ramen aficionados end up longing for.
75, rue Saint-Joseph Est
Québec, QC G1K 3A6
Price Point: Inexpensive