Although initially a box office flop, the cult classic of Ridley Scott from 1982 Blade runner has gone on to inspire legions of future filmmakers, video game developers, fashion designers and, somewhat unexpectedly, now also a Montreal restaurateur.
Yann Levy, who hatched spots such as the Japanese cocktail bar Gokudo, downtown izakaya Biiru, and Cuban restaurant La Habanera, plans to open a Japanese “cyberpunk” noodle bar called Neotokyo in the downtown business district of Montreal, probably in January 2022. For ownership, he is joined by Ilan Benhaim, co-founder of the commerce site French electronics Veepee.
“We wanted to open earlier, but due to the pandemic we had to delay our construction and everything,” says Levy. “I’ve been working on this since 2018. I’m really looking forward to it.
The restaurant’s compact menu will focus on classic ramen and its brothless alternative, mazemen – an offering according to Levy was designed in collaboration with celebrity New York chef Shigetoshi Nakamura, of the eponymous Nakamura and Niche. Otherwise, diners can expect a few side dishes, cocktails, imported sakes, and additional wines.
Located on Viger West, Neotokyo’s design will be retro-futuristic, drawing inspiration from cityscapes ruled by technology and popularized by Blade runner, itself inspired by the science fiction novel by Phillip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The name of the restaurant itself is an allusion to the fictional dystopian metropolis where the cyberpunk manga series Akira is set.
Although it’s still under construction, once Neotokyo opens, diners can expect a gloomy, moody atmosphere – “a bit post-apocalyptic,” even, says Levy – dotted with backlit signs, lettering on the back. glowing neon and many rough concrete surfaces. Asked about his inspiration, Levy sends Eater this Scott movie clip, where Harrison Ford’s character is perched on a stool in an alley noodle shop before being hauled, bowl in hand, by the cops.
In keeping with the cyberpunk theme, Neotokyo is to be hidden under what is set to become a new 1,000-person Montreal office for tech giant Google. And while the all-powerful multinational tech companies are usually the antagonists of any cyberpunk scenario, Levy is actually happy to coexist with his new neighbor: “I’m really going to focus on serving this big lunch crowd … open when office workers in the area are at least partially back.
By the end of next year, Neotokyo will also be home to a basement sushi bar, open later, but sporting the same visual markers of the cyberpunk aesthetic – hopefully, however, without falling into some of the orientalist tropes which another recent reshuffle genre (video game Cyberpunk 2077) has been criticized. Asked about this last item, Levy simply replies, “We’re just here to have fun and make ramen.”
Neotokyo is slated to open on the ground floor of 425 Viger West in January 2022.