Jin Ramen (again!), Morningside Heights

For Kelly’s last night in NYC, we decided that dinner had to be something comforting. It had been an exhausting few days, and we were desperately in need of a low key evening with quality comfort foods. Kelly had previously commented that my photos from Jin Ramen looked really good. Well, Jin Ramen it is! I was pretty stoked to go back.

Speaking of Jin Ramen, I recently learned from @jinramennyc that one of my tweets about them was featured in this New York Daily News article about ramen. On page 2, there’s my little tweet about how Jin rivals Ippudo!

Anyway, back to my recent visit. Sunday at 7:30pm, we were seated immediately at the bar. If we had arrived 10 minutes later, we would have to wait for a table. It was quite lively and busy, but not too chaotic. I guess things have really started to take off for Jin lately.

Jin RamenJin RamenJin RamenSitting at the bar, we had a full view of the kitchen. I’ve never been seated at one of the bar seats at a ramen restaurant before, and it was fun to catch a glimpse of the ramen magic that usually happens behind the scenes. Oh, and to marvel over the gigantic pots of broth. Nom nom nom. Our food was served by the head chef, who was cheerful and friendly despite how busy it was. Every once in a while, he would stop to interact with customers, answering any questions and making recommendations on how to best enjoy the dishes. I recall hearing another customer ask about the tonkotsu broth, and (if I’m remembering correctly) the head chef said that it simmers for at least 6 hours, typically up to 9 hours. Wow, that explains why that broth tastes like liquid magic. Jin RamenJin RamenOne downside of sitting at the bar is how cramped it feels. It seems like Jin has one too many stools at the bar. You end up being a wee bit too close to your neighbors.  I’m quite petite and can usually squeeze myself into small spaces, but I do like my personal space, especially when slurping down ramen. There were a couple guys along the bar who were pretty muscular, and they hogged more than their fair share of space.

Sitting at the bar in the middle of summer… oh my goodness, the heat from the kitchen! I wouldn’t say it was unbearable, but it got pretty warm. Ugh. Mad respect to the chefs in the kitchen. I’m sure it’s significantly hotter in there. I tip my hat to the chefs at Jin Ramen.

Jin Ramen - Karage ChickenKelly and I decided to totally indulge at Jin. We ordered the karage chicken ($6) and the pork buns ($7). The karage was exactly as I remembered from my last visit. It’s piping hot, straight from the kitchen. The crust is amazingly light and crispy. I know it’s fried, but there’s not a trace of grease in sight. The chicken is tender, oh so juicy and well marinated. Lovely hints of garlic and ginger. Kelly said that it reminded her of her mom’s homemade karage chicken.

Oh, pork buns. The pork is tasty, and the buns are fluffy. This time, I added the crunchy cabbage salad to my pork bun instead of eating it on the side. That was an excellent decision. As always, I appreciate that the pork was flavorful, but not too fatty. I’m all for porky goodness, but I can’t deal with mouthfuls of fat. Just like the karage, these babies were exactly as I had remembered (even though I had a couple glasses of wine before my previous visit). It’s hard to decide if I like the karage or pork buns more! Jin Ramen - Pork BunsJin Ramen - Pork BunsKelly and I both ordered the house-special Miso Ramen ($12). I was very tempted to order the Spicy Tonkotsu again, but eventually decided to try something new instead. Here’s what Jin has to say about their Miso Ramen: “Miso is a fairly recent development in ramen soup, a specialty of Hokkaido and northern Honshu that originated in the 1970s. Our miso is second to tonkotsu in terms of richness of flavor. Miso ramen broth tends to have a robust, tangy flavor, so it stands up to a variety flavorful toppings: Sauteed corn, leeks, scallions, bean sprouts, chicken sausage, bok choy, sesame seeds, nori (roasted seaweed), and pork belly. Noodles are thick, curly, and slightly chewy.” Jin Ramen - Miso RamenWhen I ordered the Miso Ramen, I somehow missed the fact that the miso offers stir fried pork belly and chicken sausage instead of the amazingly delicious char shu. What a dummy. Char shu is kind of a big deal for me, so no char shu was a bummer. I didn’t find very many pieces of pork belly or chicken sausage in my bowl, and the ones that I did find were so so. They didn’t have the wow factor that the char shu totally owns.

The veggies were interesting. I believe they were stir fried before they were added to the broth. Not exactly classic ramen veggies, but it worked for me. I typically get a little annoyed when ramen restaurants try too hard to offer modern variations of ramen, but Jin pulled this one off. The bok choy soaked up the miso flavor and was quite delicious.

The thick, curly noodles offered a nice contrast to the delicate veggies and pieces of meat. I’m normally a thin noodle fan, but in this case, thin noodles might just get lost in the broth and among the toppings. The broth is packed with refined miso flavors, not too salty. Even though I was on the verge of overheating, I still slurped it all down.

Spicy Tonkotsu versus the Miso? The Spicy Tonkotsu wins, hands down. Jin’s miso broth is a solid contender, but it cannot compare to that Spicy Tonkotsu. Nope. Think of it this way: the Miso is awesome, but the Spicy Tonkotsu is phenomenal.



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