Angela and I have been wanting to try Jinya Ramen Bar since early October, but kept having to reschedule for one reason or another. We finally made it to Jinya last Friday! It’s one of the newer ramen spots in Manhattan. I’m always happy to see another ramen-ya pop up in West Village, especially one that’s so close to the PATH. It only took me less than 20 minutes to get there.
I pretty much fell in love with the space as soon as I stepped inside. Most ramen spots are brightly lit, but Jinya was quite the opposite. Exposed brick, wood textures, dim lighting… I like! Most ramen-ya are better suited for lunch, but this is definitely a dinner spot. The wait for a table was about 35 minutes, so we grabbed a spot at the bar. I enjoyed the spot at the bar even though people were constantly crowding around us to order drinks while they waited for their tables.
As always, we ordered two appetizers to share. The Brussel Sprouts Tempura with Truffle Oil ($6) was fantastic. Lovely, light batter and the brussel sprouts didn’t taste bitter or metallic. Paired beautifully with the Chateau Ste Michelle Blanc de Blancs ($8). Most ramen places only carry Japanese beers and plum wine, so Jinya’s selection was a nice change of pace. Plus, after a long day, I just couldn’t turn down some bubbly! The other appetizer we ordered was the Homemade Organic Tofu ($8), which they make in front of you. By make, I mean they bring out the tofu mixture in a teapot, then pour it into the bowl to set (at least 5 minutes). Not bad, but you have to take advantage of the various seasonings. I’m sure many people make the mistake of eating it before it sets properly. This is an appetizer for hardcore tofu fans only!
Angela ordered the Jinya Chicken Ramen ($11) with chicken chashu, spinach, scallions, and fried onions. That broth looked quite tasty! Love the bowls they use here. I ordered the Vegetable Ramen ($11). It’s a purely vegetable broth with mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower for toppings. When my ramen arrived, Angela commented that it looked like a salad! There were no noodles visible, just lots of veggies. I’ve noticed that veggie ramen broths are almost always miso-based with a *ton* of garlic, but Jinya’s veggie broth was a lighter, clear broth. As much as I enjoy the heavier miso broths, I really liked this one. (Now, if Jinya were really smart, they would offer both options!) The noodles were nicely cooked.
Jinya offered a satisfying bowl of ramen without an MSG attack afterwards, but I feel like I’m still searching for vegetable ramen that seriously wows me. That said, it’s pretty clear that I’m going to be back at Jinya. Perhaps for a date night with John. I’ve already tried to convince him that he needs to try that tempura!