After all the hype about ramen being the next big culinary trend, central Houston is finally getting some decent options. California-based Jinya Ramen Bar opened its Midtown location to the public on Monday; it joins recently opened Samurai Noodle in providing the inner loop with another, dedicated ramen shop.
Located in the same Midtown development that's home to Holley's, Artisans and Piola, Jinya's shotgun-style space is dominated by long community tables in the middle of the dining room. Diners can also sit at the ramen bar and watch each bowl being carefully assembled by local owner Jim Wang and his staff.
The restaurant will be open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends — with the possibility of staying open until 4 a.m. if there's sufficient demand.
Jinya's menu features pork-based tonkotsu broths but also includes chicken and vegetarian options. The signature tonkotsu black comes loaded with toppings that include a whole egg, dried seaweed and green onion. Spicy chicken should appeal to diners who are looking for a lighter flavor and a little more heat. Both bowls arrived piping hot and with noodles that had a slightly chew, pleasantly al dente texture.
Gyoza are served in a generous portion of eight dumplings for only $5. Thin-skinned and crispy, they make an excellent, shareable starter.
Almost as important as its high quality food, Jinya's hours should help draw diners in. The restaurant will be open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends — with the possibility of staying open until 4 a.m. if there's sufficient demand.
That's good news for Midtown revelers who need a little sustenance prior to calling it a night and are looking for something besides spring rolls at Mai's. Even in terms of ramen options, the only choice had been Ninja Ramen, but its menu is far more limited than Jinya's.
Watch the video above for a more in-depth look at Jinya's second Houston-area location (in Webster). It includes footage of ramen being prepared as well as Wang's thoughts on his favorite version of Jinya's ramen.