Remember those dried-up noodle rectangles you ate as a kid because it was the only thing you knew how to microwave?
OK, maybe I still break open a package of ramen noodles every once in a while. It brings back memories of youth and the days when too much sodium wasn’t much of a concern.
Those memories were brought back again recently when I stopped for lunch at JINYA Ramen Bar at 449 W. 19th St. Only this time the ramen noodles got a serious upgrade in ingredients.
The doorway walking into the ramen bar is a little awkward because it’s so close to the hostess stand. So, if someone else was standing there when I walked in I would have hit them with the door.
Once I sat down the server quickly explained the menu and pointed out the more popular items. I ordered the JINYA Chicken Ramen with fresh garlic and made the order a combo, which included a side house salad with a Japanese dressing and a small plate of Pork Gyoza.
A bowl of a variety of sprouts came out first. The dressing was grainy the way grits are, but had a hint of ginger and maybe onion.
The Pork Gyoza, handmade pork potstickers, dripped juice when I bit into them. The outside of the potstickers had a rubber feel but not a rubber taste. The pork was good. I wish a dipping sauce had come with the dish.
The chicken broth was a golden yellow with thin noodles tangled in it. Thick slices of chicken rested on top with spinach, green onions and fried onions. I tossed in a healthy amount of fresh garlic and dug in.
The noodles were thin, but dense. They absorbed the broth well enough that I didn’t feel like I needed to slurp up a bunch of broth with the noodles to get a taste of the ramen. The chicken was seasoned by the broth as well.
Halfway through my bowl I tossed in more garlic, and the result was even better. I like lots of garlic, but I also know a little too much garlic added to a dish can make it garlic-centered in flavor.
Next time I’m craving a bowl of ramen, I won’t tear into a package. Instead I’ll to drive to JINYA to get ramen done right.
JINYA Ramen Bar
Address: 449 W. 19th St.
Hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday–Saturday
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: JINYA Chicken Ramen