I love ramen. I consider it comfort food. Before I began to frequent Japanese noodle houses, my idea of ramen came in sealed packages of dried ramen noodles with a silver flavor packet that can be picked up at any local grocery store which come in a variety of different flavors–beef, chicken, pork, vegetable or some other combination thereof. Drop the noodles in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to spring them back to life, add the flavor packet and voila! Instant comfort food, albeit salty. To really dress it up, you can add an egg, some leftover meat, and thinly sliced green onion for a bit of color. I ate of lot of ramen in college and really didn’t know what I was missing…until now.
Nothing compares to the real deal. Fresh, homemade ramen noodles, in a flavorful broth, with seasoned meat, chicken or pork that, if it were still attached to the bone, would be falling off of it. Served in large soup bowls and eaten with chopsticks and a large Japanese-style soup spoon, this is ramen kicked up several notches. Makes it hard to go back to the pre-packaged ramen and being relatively reasonable in price, it’s a comforting treat that I can enjoy often.
RAMEN JINYA is the newest ramen house to open in Studio City. Located in a strip mall on busy Ventura Boulevard, this noodle joint boasts an open space with chunky, modern wooden tables inside as well as bar seating in front of an open kitchen so that you can observe the chefs hard at work. Jars of dried ingredients are lined up at the bar as still life art and there is a small patio seating area is you wish to sit outdoors. Hubby and I got there about 30 minutes before closing time. There were a few people enjoying a late dinner, however, we pretty much had the place to ourself. We were greeted warmly by the staff and we were led to a table in the corner, opting to sit together on the same side so that we can both get a view of the entire restaurant.
Ramen Jinya has an extensive menu for being a noodle joint. The star on their menu is the ramen, however, they also serve up rolled sushi, a variety of organic salads, organic teas, juices and coffee, as well as fountain sodas, iced teas, still and sparkling waters. After studying the menu, we opted to share the Avocado & Tomato Salad, a medley of halved cherry tomatoes, fresh avocado, a subtle hint on anchovy and olive oil; and the Crunch Roll from their sushi menu. The anchovy in the salad was not too fishy and I liked the complex flavors of the salad. The Crunch Roll was good, nothing special about it but it was enjoyable.
I was really looking forward to trying their ramen. I had read online that the favorite among the reviews was the Tonkotsu Ramen, a hearty ramen with Chashu, a whole almost hard boiled egg, spinach, thinly sliced green onion drowned in a rich, hearty pork broth. They had a “special” version of this ramen with the same ingredients plus bonito flakes (skipjack mackerel dried and shaved into delicate flakes) for the same price! I decided to order the “special” and also ordered the fresh garlic as an addition (no charge) to further enhance the flavor of the ramen. Now I can see why this ramen is so popular.
The flavors were delicately balanced, the noodles firm and the pork tender. I had expected the garlic to arrive in a little bowl, already minced and ready to add to the soup. Not! I received three whole cloves of garlic in ice water along with a garlic press. I was able to control the amount of garlic that I added to the soup and the addition of the garlic added another layer of flavor to the ramen. I was in heaven! And it was soooo good! Hubby ordered the Wonton Ramen with wontons, spinach, green onion in chicken broth. He really enjoyed it, however, the wontons were okay and fell short of his expectations. When I asked him to elaborate, he felt that the texture was a bit off but it wasn’t bad. He did like the noodles and the broth itself which were his favorite parts of this dish.
I have to admit I was a bit nervous coming here. I had read negative reviews about their service when they first opened a few weeks ago. I saw no evidence of any problems with their customer service. Their service was spot on, the food arrived at our table quickly, the salad and sushi was fresh, the ramen piping hot. Whatever problems they may have had in the beginning appeared to have been addressed. I enjoyed not only my meal, but the overall dining experience. I would definitely come back and make my way through the rest of the menu.
For a closer look at their menu, visit their website. They also offer a takeout and delivery service aptly called Jinya Express. Ramen Jinya has now taken the top spot as one of my favorite ramen houses here in the San Fernando Valley and am looking forward to my next visit.
11239 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 109
Studio City, CA 91604