Went up to L.A. yesterday to run a few errands. The drive was fairly impromptu including the stop by Costa Mesa on the way back. Having an early dinner there sounded like a much better idea than the leftovers waiting for me in my fridge maybe. So decided to drop in the just newly opened Jinya branch. As with Yamadaya, Jinya has been another relatively recent rapidly growing name in the L.A. Ramen scene.
there I was trying to figure out why I had a Gyokai (dried fish/marine)
flavor image of Jinya's ramen as I found myself a little puzzled after
quickly perusing the menu. Were a few variations of Tonkotsu and a
chicken ramen, but nothing fishy (in the good way). Did I have them
confused with another shop? It wasn't until I got home and did some
digging that I realized the impression was probably from an older Rameniac's review
that I read of their first Studio City location in Oct 2010. There Mr.
Rameniac described a special of the day during the soft opening of a
Gyokai Tonkotsu-Shoyu which perhaps didn't make the long term cut.
So I took instead one of the recs from the kind
waitress of a black "Kuro Tonkotsu" which was also mentioned and given a
stamp of approval by reader Junichi. (Tonkotsu Black - $10.55).
soup was completely opaque where I couldn't even make out a
shadowy silhouette of the two large pork slices just beneath the surface
(that turned out to be succulent and nicely seasoned). The 'black'
part of the name obviously comes from the Maayu (Ma-yu) drizzled on top, a
flavored oil made from slow charring garlic. Often found in
Kumamoto-style Tonkotsu but now not uncommonly seen in others due to its
popularity. A single sip of the soup reveals an impressively
concentrated and creamy broth with a moderate layer of crinkled cellophane rendered fat. Big smiles.
Got a bit shy with my camera after discovering
the two ladies sitting next to me and facing my way were friends with
the owner, but the noodles were notably great as well. A straight, pale
white in Kyushu fashion with nice subtle flavor of (cooked) flour. If
anything it was a tad soft for my liking, something easily remedied by
requesting it firmer next time around (barikata for me).
Hanjyuku (soft boiled) Ajitama (flavored egg) came in a separate
crucible and was marinated
perfectly. Light flavors of sweet-savory soy sauce that penetrated down
to the yolks, the jewel-like amber nugget softly solidified to how I
Gyozas weren't too shabby either. A fairly mainstream rendition in
style and flavor but executed very well with a wonderfully crispy single
side of the thinner skin that renders easy, revealing a lightly garlic spiced, decently juicy minced pork inner. $4.50 gets you eight of
these babies and makes me wonder why I can't get a similar value and
quality in any of our SD Japanese restaurants. Tell me why-hee, cause I want it that a-wayyy...
ramen, oftentimes the first spoonful/slurp is
very different than the imprint of the last -- Is about the holistic sum as much as the individual parts. Thankfully sodium levels of the
rich broth are controlled for a more
lasting pleasant meal. The Maayu, scallions and sheet Nori
help breakup the monotony impressively well and also available free
are fresh garlic. But as I got to the fried
onions near the end, I have to admit it almost pushed me over as tasty
as they were. I started to crave some of the more time honored classic
toppings such as benishoga (red
pickled ginger), karashi takana (hot pickled mustard greens) and/or kikurage wood
mushrooms. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think I'll fork out an extra
buck next time for more Menma bamboo shoots. Otherwise would've been an easy
kanshoku where I reluctantly left a few spoonfuls of soup
behind (and felt real bad about).
a stop I'd be recommending to friends if they happen to be in the area
(or other branches) and mood for a hearty Tonkotsu that despite isn't too
fat laden. I also thought the soup was a perfect platform to transform
into a very spicy version, hence the availability of their Tonkotsu
Red with a spice level choice of 1~10. The chicken ramen sounded
enticing as well. Described as also milky and concentrated, I imagine it
being something like a Tori Paitan.
Jinya Ramen Bar, 1450 Baker St - Ste C, Costa Mesa, CA 92626