Where an internationally beloved comfort food is taken to new levels and service is lightning fast
The seemingly inauspicious strip center along a busy corridor is an unlikely spot for one of the most delicious noodle joints in the Houston metro area. However, thanks to Jinya Ramen Bar’s magical tonkotsu — the rich, full-flavored umami broth derived from boiling pork bones for hours upon end — geography hasn’t kept customers away.
Opening the door at Jinya Ramen Bar’s NASA-area restaurant immediately reveals patrons seated at the communal table, chopsticks in hand, heads bent over steaming bowls of traditional wheat noodles. Yes, this is still Texas. The atmosphere is modern and sleek, but undeniably cozy and inviting. A casual place where customers can relax and satisfy their craving for this internationally recognized comfort food.
Neat stacks of ramen bowls are piled high along the wall in the open kitchen where cooks can grab them quickly. And good thing, Jinya’s service is lightning fast.
No sooner had diners relayed their desires to the waitstaff, then they were back with trays brimming with steaming dishes. Tonkotsu Assari’s thick noodles float below a blanket of Japanese mushrooms, green onions, a seasoned egg and a spellbinding pork chashu, marinated braised pork belly.
Tonkotsu Black, conveniently labeled Jinya No. 1, also features pork chashu, but in combination with nori, garlic chips, mushrooms and thin noodles. Chicken and vegetable ramen also can be ordered. In addition to the menu of a dozen or so pre-fab bowls, diners can select from a list of more than 20 ingredients to customize their own meal. Not quite DIY ramen, the addition of cabbage, bok choy, poached egg, tofu and even extra noodles are available so customers can enjoy the dish just how they like it.
Diners shouldn’t neglect Jinya’s appetizer and dessert offerings. Skip the pork bun in favor of the Brussels Sprouts Tempura drizzled with truffle oil. Each piece is light, crunchy and utterly irresistible. The Annin Tofu, a sweet almond pudding, topped with diced fruit, whipped cream and sauce, is cool and creamy. It’s perfect antidote to the rich, decadent umami broth savored mere moments ago. Other options such as green tea mochi ice cream are equally palate-pleasing.
Los Angeles-based Jinya Ramen Bar is a chain with 20 restaurants throughout North America. Houston is home to two sites — NASA and Midtown. But don’t let that deter you from trying Jinya. Reasonable prices, speedy service and soul-satisfying bowls of steamy ramen are worth the visit.
Jinya Ramen Bar
18299 Egret Bay Blvd., Webster