There is a new ramen place in town Jinya Ramen Bar in Logan Circle, a modern restaurant that describes itself as “Crazy About Ramen.” Names after a Samurai who was close to the community this restaurant embodies focus on tradition. Started by Tomonori Takahashi whose father owned an Izakaya style restaurant named Jinya, he opened his very own Jinya in Tokyo Japan. Now his foodie empire spans multiple locations in the United States and Canada. We are excited to welcome his latest and second location in Washington DC at 14 Street NW (Logan Circle). We were excited to be invited to the VIP Sneak Peek event for media and local influencers. Our first impression from trying side dishes, drinks, and of course, ramen, Jinya is an excellent new addition to the local food scene.
When it comes to Ramen its all about the broth and not the noodles, the broth can make it or ruin a dish, at Jinya, their broth cooked for 10 hours with whole pork bones, chicken or vegetables, and authentic ingredients. Another essential part is the noodles which are made daily and age for three days to maximize on flavors. They even have spinach noodles which sadly we didn’t get to try, but will on our next visit.
Disclaimer: The food featured was provided by Jinya Ramen Bar as part of VIP Event, read more about disclaimer
Kikusui Funaguchi Nama Genshu Sake (5 NOMs)
Following proper Japanese tradition, we will be drinking some Sake with our starter dishes to get those hungry tommies going or brain tipsy. Sake is a Japanese rice wine made by fermenting rice instead of fruit like in westerns wines. This Japanese import sake by Kikusui Sake Company is specifically known as a good pairing with ramen for its sweet flavor. We enjoyed how smooth and sweet the flavor was that went great with savory, meaty broth. The alcohol hits you very slowly and then in no time gone. Goes well with heavy food and ramen to offset all that hoppy goodness.
Takoyaki / Octopus Balls (5 NOMs)
Who doesn’t like some balls, especially when it’s our favorite Takoyaki / Octopus Balls from Jonya Ramen Bar, masters of soup and balls! Takoyaki, a popular Japanese snack can be found in many ramen and sushi places, is a must-try at Jinya. These little balls of joy are our favorite way to start the night. Every bite starts outs with a crunch of fried octopus and wheat batter shell and ends with the soft gooey inside of diced octopus, tempura, green onions, and sauce. Traditionally this dish is served with an assortment of sauces and bonito flakes on top (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna). S adds a great light smoky flavor to the dish. Also, served on top of egg tartar with Kewpie Mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce a sauce similar to Worcestershire, but thicker and sweeter. We were just wowed away by the presentation and quality of this dish at Jinya, a great way to start the nomnom adventure. It truly showcased their series approach to great flavors and quality of food in all dishes. Such small little balls combine so much together to bring you a great starter dish. Careful and not fill up on these fried goodies as you still need to enjoy some more food. Price-wise for lots of Takoyaki you only pay $8, not too expensive and great to share with friends.
Pork Chashu Bun (5 NOMs)
Steam Bun sandwiches are taking over the city and Jinya is serving up some great Pork Chashu Bun to hungry ramen lovers. While Steamed Bao or also known as Gua Bao are originally from Taiwan, we are very excited to try them at this restaurant to see their take on it. Chashu reference to a Chinese traditional cooking method where long strips of seasoned pork are skewered and placed in a covered oven or over a fire. While we can’t 100% guarantee t is prepared traditionally, and we were big fans of this dish. The flavor combination of sauce, meat, and veggies gave us joy in every bite. We just fell in love with that thick piece of slowly braised pork chashu combined with Jinya’s original sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise. Also, for that extra crunch, there are cucumbers and baby mixed greens. Jinya’s Pork Chahu Bun is one of our favorite and might be the best in the area, so make sure you order. Each order includes one bun for $5, but it’s so good we would order a few. Remember to save some space for the Ramen 😉
Brussels Sprouts Tempura (4 NOMs)
Even meat lovers love deep-fried veggies, bring on your next lover the Brussels Sprouts Tempura from Jinya. Fun fact, originally Tempura is from Portugal and was brought to and popularized by Japan. Knowing is half the battle, now let’s eat! Honestly, we weren’t sure how this might go. It could be just us, but tempura often doesn’t have much flavor. We were happy to see chefs at Jinya change that with the great flavor combination of tempura battery, Brussel sprouts, and spices. While not our most favorite dish of the evening we still really enjoyed it and would try it again. Maybe next time with some of their special sauces.
Crispy Chicken (5 NOMs)
Our other favorite dish of the night was the bite-size nomnom starter Fried Crispy Chicken. These little meaty goodies fried in garlic pepper and served with original ponzu sauce on aside. The chicken tasted so good that you didn’t need any sauce, but this traditional Japanese sauce adds a nice citrusy flavor. What sets it apart is that they kept a bit of fat on the chicken, which was a nice surprise and added different texture and flavor to the dish. It made the dish a lot softer and juicy. Great for those of us that like to say yes to the fat sometimes.
Pork Chashu Kimchee Tacos (4 NOMs)
Small things come in big flavors like these Pork Chashu Jimchee Tacos that bring together different cuisines at Jinya. So far we’ve had some Japanese dishes, Chinese dishes, and now bring on the fusion combination of Mexican, Chinese, and Korean. There is not that much going on in this dish, but it carries a whole lot of flavor. They are so bite-size small that we just ended up eating a few of them. They are just so hard to resist, the pork and kimchee combination made us happy nomsters. All this served in a fried crispy wonton taco shell. Each order comes in 2 pieces and costs $6, which we think is a bit pricey. While we love it, we might need a few more of these orders to fill us up.
Jinya Tonkotsu Black Ramen (5 NOMs)
After all the drinks and starter dishes, we are very excited to try the main course Tonkotsu Black Ramen. Tonkotsu is a standard pork broth ramen that comes with everything that Ramen lovers expect like nori dried seaweed, green onions, fried onions, and seasoned soft eggs. Served with thinly sliced pork pieces and thin noodles. Beautiful presentation with great flavor and a kick to it. The broth was thick and flavourful, but unlike many other places did not make us feel oily or eeky afterwords. Here broth allowed other ingredients to shine through and be enjoyed equally. Especially when it’s those delicious fried onions and thick pieces of pork. As always one of our favorite things is an egg, we are big egg lovers, and here the seasoned soft boiled egg was excellent. Next time we will make sure to order extra 🙂 Price wise this is not the cheapest ramen you will have, with a price tag of $14, but it’s so good that we think it’s worth it.
Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen (5 NOMs)
Most ramens a meat-based broth, but here at Jinya they also take care of our vegetarian and vegan friends with Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen. You would be surprised how hard it can be for a non-meat eater to enjoy ramen. While this ramen is vegetable broth doesn’t sacrifice in flavor over pork broth that even this meat lover enjoyed it. It comes with soft tofu cubes, onion, green onion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic chips, garlic oil, chili oil, sesame seeds, and served with thick noodles. All of these different ingredients combined with excellent vegetable broth made for a great ramen dish. The varies spices and sauce add a nice kick to every bite or slurp of both. Slightly cheaper than their Tonkotsu Black Ramen for $13, but same as meat one, it’s a great dish we would order again.
Mochi Ice Cream (4 NOMs)
After a happy heavy comfort meal, one needs a refreshing dessert like the Mochi Ice Cream. Mochi is one of the cutest dish names out there. For those who are not familiar, Mochi a combination of two desserts, a rice cake shell filled with ice cream. While this is a more recent creation based on much older traditional desserts Daifukumochi rice cake stuffed with sweets and Manj red bean cake. Like many Japanese desserts, the Mochi ice cream has a lower sweetness level, but these sugar addicts still enjoy it. Its a fascinating combination as the shell is thick and inside is cold and smooth. Jinya offers two different flavors a Green Tea and our favorite Chocolate which had a higher flavor profile.
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