The Green Monster at Jinya Ramen is one memorable dish.
You'll normally see Jinya Ramen kitchen in full action.
Carnivores delight with the Goku Midnight Cowboy.
The not-to-be-missed Jinya Bun.
An assortment of Jinya's plates.
Jinya's spicy creamy vegan ramen may make you realize you might not need meet anymore.
Matcha Garden Cocktail has Asian inspiration.
Gimlet's go well with ramen.
Jinya Ramen's well-appointed bar.
Ramen, once the stereotypical mainstay diet of poor, college students, is popping up in up-and-coming, hipster hoods all over the country — and not in the style of those four-for-a-dollar price-points of its second cousin oft found in Sytrofoam cups. With the elevated ramen food trend, comes a sophisticated, yet playful, (still relatively) new spot in Victory Park dubbed Jinya Ramen Bar.
What you will find at Jinya Ramen is an exuberant layering of flavors amalgamated in a savory, soulful broth. The pork broth, one of the main foundations of Jinya’s many dishes, “takes two days to lovingly prepare,” says chef David Godsey. And yes, there are chicken-based and vegetarian ramen options as well.
Drew Smith, the local owner of the chain, which has quite a few popular Jinya locations in Houston, has wanted to create a restaurant that helps de-mystify Ramen.
“We want our diners to come in knowing that there are no rules,” Smith says. “It’s meant to be comfort food, but with a Japanese history and artistry behind it.”
A welcoming mood greets guests immediately when the entire staff shouts out “Irasshai!” — Japanese for “welcome” — every time a new diner walks in the door.
The menu has numerous offerings, but not too many as to confound those new to ramen. Top options include the Green Monster, layered with a chicken broth base and kale paste, vegetable noodles, chicken chashu, green onions, crispy kale, and crispy onions. The dish achieves Smith and Godsey’s intent to make their bowls “beautiful and bountiful.”
There is an impressive selection of vegetarian-friendly items, including the spicy creamy vegan ramen. The intense layering of flavors will leave no cravings for meat — and might even incite an orgasm for the taste buds of even the most committed carnivores.
Should you refuse to go meat-free then opt for the Goku Midnight Cowboy, with pork broth, tender braised beef brisket, bean sprouts, green onion, kikurage, seasoned egg, thick noodles.
Other incredible highlights from the classic, yet quirky, menu include the Jinya bun. Call it the Japanese equivalent of the slider, made of a steamed bun stuffed with slow-braised pork chashu, cucumber, and baby mixed greens served with Jinya’s original bun sauce and kewpie mayonnaise.
Lest we forget libations, the Jinya team has assembled a sophisticated — but certainly not fussy — cocktail menu.
“Our cocktails are meant to be balanced,” Smith says. “Like the Japanese culinary aesthetic.”
This concept comes to fruition with the Matcha Garden cocktail, which includes matcha, tequila, lime, basil, rosewater, and prosecco and resembles a margarita with heavy floral and herb notes. In the end, Smith has a single goal:“Let our ramen shine, but we want our cocktails to be the supporting cast.”
And yes, the noodles are the star of the show. So much so that it is integral to request a table with a view of the kitchen, for better viewing of all the ramen action.
Jinya Ramen Bar, 625 High Market Road, Suite 185, Dallas, 469-248-0150, www.jinya-ramenbar.com.