UHCL The Signal
Student Publications Office
University of Houston-Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Blvd., Box 456
Houston, TX 77058
The JINYA Ramen Bar, located off NASA Rd. 1 and Egret Bay Blvd., brings traditional Japanese ramen to America with its rich broth and flavorful noodles.
Tomonori Takahashi opened up his first JINYA restaurant in Tokyo in 2000. When Takahashi visited the United States in 2010, he saw the need for authentic Japanese ramen and decided to continue the JINYA legacy here in the states. He opened his first U.S. restaurant in California in 2013 and later opened a JINYA in the Clear Lake area in 2014. There are currently 26 JINYA restaurants across the nation.
The Clear Lake restaurant has a warm, open and inviting ambiance with dim and unique lighting. The first thing I noticed was the huge table in the center of the room with white stones in the middle that helps create a serene and calming vibe to this already zen and casual ambiance.
My friend and I were quickly greeted and seated in a matter of seconds. The hostess walked us to the table saying “welcome” in Japanese while the rest of the staff chimed in by also saying, “welcome.”
The menu features a wide variety of chicken, beef, pork and vegetable broth with flavorful toppings depending on what seasoning, spice, meat or vegetable you prefer.
As an appetizer, my friend and I split the JINYA bun. It had a “recommended” symbol on the menu beside it, and after tasting it I could see why. The JINYA bun is a steamed bun with pork, cucumber and mixed greens served with kewpie mayonnaise. It is an ingenious combination and melted in my mouth.
It was very tempting to order another of these buns, but I needed to save room for the main course, Sprouting Up Ramen. The Sprouting Up Ramen is pork and chicken broth: pork chashu, kikuage, spicy bean sprouts, green onion, half seasoned egg, crispy brussels sprouts, black pepper, ginger and served with thick noodles.
The broth tasted as if it was imbibing liquid gold. The flavor combination of chicken and pork was unique and something I had never tasted before. Everything was fresh from the pork and noodles to the brussels sprouts.
My friend ordered the Cha Cha Cha Ramen; this was also a recommended dish from the menu. The Cha Cha Cha Ramen is pork and fish broth: pork chashu, seasoned egg, bean sprouts, chopped onion, garlic, chili powder and served with extra thick noodles. It also comes with garlic customers can crush themselves if they feel they need more.
I tried some of my friend’s dish, and it was indeed full of garlic flavor that made my mouth want to dance the cha-cha. The pork and fish broth and thick noodles were an excellent touch that made sampling more of the dish tempting.
Naturally, my friend and I spared some room in our already stuffed stomachs for dessert. We split the green tea mochi ice cream. It was the perfect combination of a doughy rice cake on the outside and green tea ice cream on the inside. The mochi wrapped up the JINYA experience well, despite me normally not being a dessert person.
In addition to the warm welcome the whole staff provided when we were taken to our seats, our server was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive to our questions and needs. The service was also fast paced, but not rushed. I felt like I could still hang out and talk to my friend if I wanted to after my meal was finished and not feel the pressure to leave.
The servings are quite large. My friend and I both went home with leftovers. Our server was kind enough to box it up for us.
JINYA is fairly cheap. Our total combined for an appetizer, ramen and dessert was $40.00. The ramen goes for around $12-16 a plate. The appetizers and desserts are around five dollars each.
With the overall service and authenticity of the Japanese meals, JINYA is a restaurant that will bring customers, including me, back in time after time.
To view their menu and other Houston locations, visit https://jinya-ramenbar.com/.