Ramen Jinya 陣家Posted: 09/13/2012
Summer in Vancouver isn’t much like summer. Well, this summer, there were a couple hot weeks in mid-August, and I think some in late July, but for the most part, it was a dreary, cool summer. Although I longed for some warm weather to wear my summer dresses and skirts, I didn’t mind the cooler temperatures, especially on a certain July day when we all gathered at Ramen Jinya to lunch with Pickles before her European vacation.
I hadn’t heard of Ramen Jinya before–being pretty much oblivious to any ramen joints outside the Robson Street area. Our first choice for lunch had actually been Meat and Bread, but it happened to be closed that day. (Review for Meat and Bread upcoming, though!) Anyways, at first glance, the restaurant appeared clean and well-maintained, with a satisfyingly varied menu.
Pickles ordered the Miso Tonkotsu Ramen. At first, she described the taste as “intense”, which I didn’t understand at first. But she allowed me to sample a bit of her broth, and it reminded me more of Korean bean paste soup than Japanese miso–definitely a stronger taste than normal miso, which is quite mild. Pickles enjoyed her bowl of noodles, as the noodles themselves also had a satisfying bite.
Jess opted for a combo, which included a bowl of her choice of noodles, a side salad, as well as a side dish. For the noodles, she chose Shio Tonkotsu Ramen. She commented that she found this version better than other ramen places in Vancouver, being less fatty. As a specific example, she cited Kintaro Ramen, and stated that she preferred the less fatty broth at Ramen Jinya, although that’s just personal preference. In addition to the noodles, there were fried onions included, which added a slightly sweet taste to the broth.
Jess and David both ordered combos, which included the same salad. I didn’t have high expectations for this salad, considering our choice of restaurant. They both agreed that the salad was acceptable, but that the corn was a little too soggy for their tastes. The dressing was a typical one usually found at Japanese restaurants, both garlicky and oily.
For the remaining part of her combo, Jess ordered the Karaage. I thought this was a small portion with just three pieces, but she enjoyed them all the same, citing that the chicken was juicy and appeared to be freshly fried. She also thought that the chicken was well complemented by the sauce, which included was quite tangy from the grated radish.
Meanwhile, David opted for the Gyoza instead. These contained a pork filling and appeared to be quite average, although he did say that he liked the crust, which made them crispy on the outside, while soft and juicy on the inside. Like Jess, he also enjoyed his own dipping sauce. I thought that they looked a little too burnt, but that these were a better deal than the chicken karaage above, as they were actually a decent size.
Moving onwards, Hui, Darek and David both ordered the Tonkotsu Black Ramen, so named because it contained some black garlic oil, as you can see. The oil resulted in a very intense garlic flavour, giving the broth a richer depth. The noodles had a good bite while the meat was very fatty and thick. The other ingredients were similar to those previously described, although I thought the addition of seaweed was a nice touch. This ramen also included a boiled egg, which was served cold, inviting some amount of contrast.
Lastly, Su arrived a little later than the rest of us and ended up ordering the Chicken Ramen. I was a little excited for Su’s choice considering that the usual choice of meat for ramen is pork, rather than chicken, and I was curious as to what difference this would make. Su actually had very little to say about her lunch, except that she found the broth extremely salty. Although this is a common complaint with ramen in general, I felt that the rest of our dishes (well, from what I sampled) at Ramen Jinya contained less salt and fat than other popular ramen places (namely Kintaro), so perhaps this is simply an issue with their chicken ramen. I tasted a little of her broth and I found that it carried a little less depth than the other ramens we had.
Although there are some negative reviews online, our group enjoyed this lunch at Ramen Jinya. It was nice to be able to enjoy some ramen without trekking all the way down Robson Street. I also found the dining space to be clean and modern, with an adequate number of seats, and the service was friendly and efficient. And oh, this place had the hugest spoons? ladles? I’d ever seen. There definitely are better ramen places in Vancouver, but if you’re in the area, Ramen Jinya will suffice.
Ramen Jinya 陣家
270 Robson Street