A couple of weeks ago, during Los Angeles' 10 days or so of torrential rain, someone had a brilliant idea. Sunny, from Deglazing The Foodie Terrain, suggested Ramen Jinya. A better meal for that weather, I cannot fathom. Her brilliant photography and enticing food descriptions always convince me to try anything. If that was not enough, Ramen Jinya's Hakata Ramen also appeared on Jonathan Gold's 10 Best Dishes of 2010.
I expected only greatness knowing that (1) the restaurant was in a downplayed strip mall in Studio City; (2) it's owned by a Japanese mogul who owns 7 restaurants spread across Tokyo; (3) they have an open noodle kitchen. The food by far exceeded my expectations.
|Ramen Jinya - Tonkatsu Hakata Ramen, fresh garlic and Tokyo Curry Rice|
The meal began with a fresh green salad with what tasted like miso dressing with strong garlic and daikon flavors. I, somewhat timidly, went with the Tonkatsu Hakata Ramen, described on the menu as "Pork Premium Rich Flavor". It has a deep bone marrow flavor as well as dashi, dried fish and other types of umami goodness. The bowl contains a few slices of tender, juicy, buttery chashu fatty pork. Up front and center is also a perfectly soft boiled egg with vibrant yellow yolk. There are assorted vegetables to round things out and the slightly chewy noodles soak up just enough broth while still maintaining their integrity on their own.
There are several optional add-ons, my favorite being the cloves of fresh garlic that the diner crushes into the broth, adding another level of kick, as if that's even needed. I also turned the meal into a combo by adding a side of Tokyo Curry Rice. It's a solid Japanese curry bursting with complex flavor, clearly made from scratch.
|Ramen Jinya - closer view of the ramen|
|Ramen Jinya - the broth|
It's rich, soulful, unctuous. The broth is murky, reflecting the 12 hour cooking time. You just lose yourself in it!