Google has officially moved into Old Montreal’s renovated heritage building 425 Viger West, and on Wednesday, December 14, the tech giant will begin to share its address with a new, cyberpunk-inspired noodle bar, Neo Tokyo.
After experiencing a slew of delays ranging from pandemic work stoppages to slowed construction that has stretched on for years, the restaurant is up and running in hopes of catering to both locals and the 1,000 employees working on the building’s upper floors.
Yann Levy, who co-owns the restaurant with Ilan Benhaim, says it’s been a frustrating time leading up to the delayed opening as cultural appetites for cyberpunk — a genre characterized by dystopian futures that combine social strife with high tech — have been mounting.
“It’s been tense because [it’s] been picking up speed; [recently,] there’s Cyberpunk 2077 the game, then the Netflix series…” Levy says, referring to the popular video game franchise and accompanying tv show set in a grungy, futuristic dystopia.
The restaurant isn’t loosely inspired by the infamous noodle bar scene from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner—one of the cyberpunk genre’s earliest films wherein an android-hunting detective grabs a bite on the streets of a gritty but technologically advanced Los Angeles—it’s a direct recreation of it: The 2,500-square-foot, 77-seat interior designed by Levy himself features bright neon signage, graffiti, hanging lanterns, corrugated metal paneling on the walls, and painted artwork on the floor similar to a pedestrian street crossing. Thankfully, he excluded the movie’s hard-falling, noir rain.
“The entire visual experience isn’t like anything Montrealers will have seen before,” he says. “It’s inspired by Blade Runner, Akira… even Cyberpunk 2077 is part of the experience; I went out and bought a PS5 when that came out for some inspiration.”
Neo Tokyo’s menu will keep things relatively simple to adhere to the roadside noodle shack ambiance Levy and Benhaim are trying to create. While a handful of sides are available, like pork gyoza with yuzu kosho shoyu, edamame, and spicy karaage, the main focus falls on a ramen menu created in collaboration with New York City’s lauded ramen master Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura, chef of the eponymous Nakamura and Niche.
The menu will include chicken-and-pork broth tonkotsu served with chashu pork, chicken-and-yuzu shio ramen served with chicken chashu or shrimp wontons, and vegetarian truffle miso ramen made with tea, kombu, miso, and vegetables. The restaurant will also offer varieties of mazemen, like salmon, top loin steak, cream-parmesan-bacon à la carbonara, and ground soboro-style pork.
Levy says that Neo Tokyo is meant to be more than a grab-and-go ramen spot and hopes the ambiance will encourage guests to linger. That said, the restaurant will expand into takeout and delivery in time. He also mentioned the possibility of using the restaurant’s remaining available space to host an entirely separate ghost kitchen-cum-snack bar similar to his speakeasy-style, Japanese cocktail bar Gokudo. Levy says that he hopes to eventually bring in an omakase chef if the demand is there.
The Blade Runner references extend to the restaurant’s tightly edited drinks menu, which Levy created with the intention of using light flavors to complement the food. The selection, which highlights a gin-based cocktail called Replicant and an amber-and-emerald Matcha Biru made by mixing matcha powder with beer, is meant to be kept small. That ethos applied to the sake selection as well, which he limited to only a few bottles of a select few styles, including bottles from Granville Island’s Artisan SakeMaker.
Already, Levy is looking to expand Neo Tokyo. “All of this is a proof of concept,” he says. “The goal is to be able to make more of this concept… it’s a retro-futuristic feel that hasn’t been applied (much) elsewhere.”
Neo Tokyo is now open on the ground floor of 425 Viger West.