Jin Ramen, Upper West Side

There is absolutely nothing better than a ginormous steaming bowl of ramen on a wintery day. But if you’re kind of over freeze-dried cup of noodles, there’s tons of authentic and fresh ramen joints popping up all over NYC.  One of the most popular uptown is Jin Ramen, and it’s quickly becoming famous for it’s savory broths, fresh noodles, and cozy atmosphere.

There are two Jin Ramen restaurants so far in the city.  The original is located in West Harlem/Morningside Heights area on Broadway near the 125th Street Station.  I went there a couple times when I was a Columbia student and living up there and I was so happy that this authentic little gem was right in my neighborhood.  As it grew in popularity they opened up one right on the Upper West Side on 82nd Street and Amsterdam.  I was working down the block last year when they opened and I positively jumped for joy when I saw it.

Since its opening on the UWS I’ve been a few times.  I think every time I’ve been it’s been on an insanely cold day, hence the craving for a piping hot bowl of noodles.  Every experience is enjoyable, although I must say the restaurant is quite cramped (although that’s not uncommon for good NYC grub spots).  Today we waiting for about 15 minutes and then were sat at a four top table with another couple, but the two sides of the table were separated by a divide of succulents and plants.  The atmosphere is quite cute; along with the succulents on the tables they have hanging rustic lightbulbs all over the place.  It kind of had a hipster/asian vibe, but I was feeling it.  Like I said, I could have used a little elbow room and Matt definitely got sneezed on by the girl seated next to us, but all in all the small intimate space is charming and all part of the NYC dining experience.

One small disclaimer:  ONE time, ordering take-out through Jin, I found a itsy-bitsy teeny tiny caterpillar in my veggies.  The reason why I mention this is because I would feel guilty to write a review of a restaurant and leave it out — I want to be honest.  But seriously I wouldn’t let that deter you from ever going there.  It happens sometimes in the food industry (more than you probably realize), and all it means is that they use really fresh vegetables and the little guy was really tucked away while they were washing the veggies.  I put it on a napkin and I thought about bringing it in and showing them but I didn’t care that much to make the effort.  Even the most top-notch places sometimes let things slip through.

Anywho, tonight I ordered my usual: the vegetable ramen.  Most ramen uses pork or chicken broth and has pork belly on it, but the vegetable ramen uses vegetable broth and is topped with beansprouts, corn, tofu, mushrooms, seaweed, bok choy, and scallions.  The broth was so delicious and salty and I couldn’t have imagined something that I was more in the mood for.  I also got it topped with a fried egg because why not?  I’m always down for yoke.

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It was so hot when it came out I couldn’t even wait for it to cool and shoved the scalding broth into my mouth and just tried to fight through the pain.  It was worth it.  I was also so hungry I had to resist the urge to ask the waiter for a fork so I could really grab a hold of those noodles.  I’m not trying to be culturally insensitive or anything, but I really think chop sticks are possibly the stupidest invention in the entire world.  Who ever thought that pinching two super-thin pointed sticks together would ever be the most efficient way to eat anything?  But regardless I somehow managed to get the noodles in my mouth without too much mess.  And I washed it down with a Orion Japanese beer, which was pretty good and tasting like a light Heineken or Peroni or something.

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Matt got the Spicy Tonkotsu and it looked fabulous with the pork belly on top.  I tasted the broth and I certainly could taste the pork bone broth.  It also had a nice kick to it (I can always tell when Matt starts sweating).  Although even if I ate meat I would prefer the veggie ramen, because I loved the sweet corn and crunch of the beansprouts.

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By the end of the meal I was literally stuffed.  I was soooo close to finishing the entire bowl; I had maybe 1/4 cup of broth left in the bottom.  I’ve never actually finished the whole thing before, and I tried so hard but eventually I gave in to the waiters who were constantly asking if I was finished.  The ramen was exactly what I needed after a long and stressful week, and helped get me in the mood for a warm, cozy, and relaxing weekend.  Jin Ramen gets 4/5 stars!

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