Wednesday, October 16, 2019

JINYA Ramen Bar - Sandy Springs Atlanta Georgia

You can find this, the original Atlanta location of JINYA Ramen Bar at 5975 Roswell Rd. Suite B217, Sandy Springs, Georgia 30328. This is a smallish storefront towards the back of the "L" shaped building on the side facing Lowe's in Sandy Springs. Parking basically sucks, with most of the spaces reserved for the nearby jewelry store, but you can find plenty of additional parking as you stretch out from the lot dedicated to JINYA, you'll need to walk a bit.

The first thing you'll notice about JINYA is the horrible parking situation, which has helped to keep people from realizing just how fantastic this West-coast ramen chain's first Atlanta location is. The second thing you'll notice is the line - sometimes it can be really long - although this has been offset a bit since they've expanded into the space to the left (doubling the seating capacity). I've hesitated to write a review as it's impossible to get a seat due to the acknowledgement of locals, but with the expansion of both this store's footprint, and with several new Atlanta Metro locations planned, I think the proverbial cat-is-out-of-the-bag.

The interior of JINYA is beautifully rendered with wood finishes in cool geometric shapes above the ramen bar. It's an open kitchen concept so you see most of the action if you're lucky enough to be seated there - I usually hit this location by myself during off-hours - before 11:30 and after 2:30 or so - the lunch crowd is too tough to get through and I can't stand waiting in lines. Right at lunch expect at least an hour wait during most days. Evenings are a bit better but people linger longer so while there's less people, there's still a wait.

I love ramen, it's hands-down one of my favorite foods - of all Japanese food, ramen has a special place for me because it brings back so many memories from living in Japan (mostly from the fragrance, but also from the tactile sensation of slurping). For me the tonkotsu broth is where-it's-at, but I also like miso broth and mazeman dipping-style (no broth), each have their own place. JINYA offers up a LA-style ramen that intensifies the broth flavors - the idea isn't so much balance, but rather an explosion of flavors bedded in umami. Matched with great ingredients and homemade noodles, and wow, what bowl. The bowl that sold me is no longer on the menu but you can order it from the "secret" menu - it's the Cha Cha Cha (it's the garlic - I also add extra garlic, ask for it and they will bring you a jar of cloves and a press). In keeping with the intense flavors there's also a dish of "hot sauce" - it's really gochujang and it just makes everything better - use a spoon or two to really open up the sinuses.

Some of the Things I've tried:


* Pork Gyoza - my only problem with these is the quantity - make a double order if you're sharing. Pan seared on one side and quite good.

* Crispy Chicken - deep fried juicy boneless chicken thigh with garlic pepper, served with baby leaf lettuce and ponzu sauce - your basic karaage style, pretty good but I like the pieces a bit smaller.

* Brussels Sprouts Tempura with truffle oil - surprisingly good - I'm usually not a brussels sprouts fan but the crispy exterior adds something to these - good for sharing.

* French Fries with Truffle Ketchup - good and I love the stacked presentation

* Caramelized Cauliflower with pine nuts, crispy mints and lime ponzu - these are quite good and worth sharing

* Baby Leaf Salad with ginger dressing - similar to what you might find at a hibachi restaurant

* Seaweed Salad - soy and sesame seed dressing

* Chicken Chashu Rice Bowl - slowly braised chicken, spinach, green onion and seasoned egg. This is more of a small entree that something you share (more like a tappas)


* Cha Cha Cha Ramen - pork broth, pork chashu, egg, bean sprouts, chopped onion, green onion, fish powder, chili powder with thick noodles and garlic - my favorite dish here and my go-to when I visit. I add 2 extra cloves of garlic and two spoons of gochujang.

* Sprouting Up Ramen - pork broth, pork chazu, brussels sprouts, egg, green onion, kikurage, chili oil with thick noodles - this is quite good.

* Spicy Chicken Ramen - chicken broth, chicken chashu, spinach, bean sprouts, tokyo negi, green onion with thin noodles - I order this EXTRA HOT! Quite good and a change-up from the pork broth.

* Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen - pork broth, pork chashu, spicy bean sprouts, kikurage, green onion with thick noodles - I order this EXTRA HOT!

* JINYA Tonkotsu Black Ramen - port broth, port chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori, egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion and thin squid-ink noodles - love this, my second favorite

* Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen - yeah I know, what's with the vegan? I ordered this on a whim and it's surprisingly good - hearty vegetable broth, tofu, onion, green onion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic oil, chili oil, sesame with thick noodles. I'm not sure what they're doing to achieve the umami but it's quite tasty AND creamy considering no meat! Try it with the spinach noodles for a different texture and you can ask for the egg if you're into them.

Service is good but limited, the servers do check on you but it's just so busy it may take a minute. Make sure you ask for a to go for your extra broth and some extra (free) noodles. Did I mention that they have craft beer? Usually the local Creature Comforts Tropicalia but I also once had a Green Flash Tangerine Sout Style IPA and at another time a Second Self Thai Wheat. There's a patio with umbrella covered tables but it's usually too hot in Atlanta to really enjoy them at lunch - probably better during the evenings. Love this place!


(shorter review also posted on Yelp - damn 5000 character limit!)
JINYA Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and 
Info - Zomato


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