Scrolling through my Facebook feed idling away is one of the past times I cringe about. While I was at it, came across a post which had these "Business Insider" articles and I was intrigued to look at this specific one which had a listing of all the best Ramen spots in America. I was astonished to find one of them in Houston. Much to my embarrassment, never visited one here and if it was that good, I should have known.
Searched for that restaurant and it is situated in Midtown. Lot of reviews stating it to be a crowded place with free valet parking or curbside parking if you are lucky enough!
OK, enough with the curiosity looming over your head. The restaurant is JINYA Ramen Bar. Compared to the other Ramen restaurants out there, the growth of this place is tremendous considering it has been out there for only 7 years. Headed out to this place with a friend of mine and remember,
The early bird catches the worm.
"Who cares?" shouted my inner devil. We reached at 9 p.m. Luckily, the valet parking was available and it is free. We left the car and headed out to the restaurant which was amidst a lighted street and looked quite surreal.
The lighting inside the restaurant is dim but good enough. Had a wait time of about 20 minutes before we got in. They give you a buzzer which triggers when it's "THE TIME"!
Soon, it was our time and we got ourselves a booth. The interior is really alluring and comfy for a perfect dinner. The lady was up with the menu and we ordered some drinks to start off.
Got some Hot Sake with a draft, Kirin Ichiban. Asked for a Sake Bomb, but the server recommended we would be better off ordering it separately which I appreciated. Dropped the sake in the beer and started off the night. A perfect Japanese respite.
Ordered some best-selling appetizer to pair up with the sake. We also went with the chef recommended Ramen for the entrées. The server was more than happy to help us with the menu which I was profoundly thankful for. The appetizer was out in a jiffy.
It's Takoyaki aka Octopus Ball. The presentation is quite mesmerizing for the eyes. Was befuddled at the mere glance of it. Coming to my senses, the fried ball is made of battered octopus layered over a bed of egg tartar and topped with kewpie mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce. It also had these fresh cut green onions and smoked bonito flakes to go with.
Grabbed the first Popsicle albeit with a fried ball, and had it smeared with the egg tartare along with the mayo and popped it into my mouth. The best feeling one could ever have. The flavor I had tasted is the best I had in a long time and is no exaggeration.
You could feel the chunks of Octopus and the toppings were just paired perfectly with it. It was juicy and not dry which one expects of a fried appetizer. The smoked bonito flakes which is shaved dried tuna adds to the flavor of the Octopus ball. You need to try this out, Guys!
Next up is the entrée.
It is the JINYA Tonkotsu Black. The aroma emanating from the broth is heavenly. I pity the readers who are not at this restaurant, now!
Ramen is traditionally served as a tonkotsu which is basically a broth made of pork bone. This tonkotsu is no different and it came with pork chashu, made of pork belly. The other ingredients include kikurage which is an edible dried fungus, nori dried seaweed, green onions, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion which are infused with a spicy sauce (I happened to order it spicy).
They are served with thin noodles. It comes with a seasoned egg which is marinated in a blend of sake, soy, mirin (a sweet rice wine) and sugar. I have to eat this, soon!
Took a scoop of the broth alongside the pork and noodles with the chopsticks and had a go at them.
"Does it get any better?" I asked myself. Could be the happiest day in a foodie's life. I don't think it could get any better than this. The broth is thick and the flavors were rich enough to captivate your senses. The garlic flavor infusion is perfect. They also give you free garlic if you ask them for it.
The pork belly which is a cut of the fatty meat really lives up to its name. It just melts in your mouth. It's just delish. The runny yolk soaked in the broth gives an experience you would never forget. The fried onions work well in tandem with the broth, as well. Surely, is a runaway hit!
Had to end this adventure on amiable terms and no better way then ordering their best-seller Panna Cotta.
The dishes one by one have enticed me to an extent where I am not sure if I can take it any further. This dessert had a personal take on the traditional Italian custard. The gelatinous texture had the flavorings of coffee, topped with a caramel cream sauce. It comes with graham cracker and vanilla ice cream finished with a blade of mint.
My first bite consisted all of it and I was already in heaven with the previous dishes and I am not sure if I could go any further up. The creamy gelatinous texture with the caramel sauce was lip-smackingly delicious. The graham crackers offer the perfect crunch to go with the spongy goodness. Anything with an ice cream ends up well and it's Vanilla in our case.
This is a foodie paradise and I wouldn't have any qualms of specifying the same.
JINYA Ramen Bar
3201 Louisiana St Ste 105 Houston, TX 77006
Value For Money: 7.5/10