It’s interesting to see how ramen has become really popular in New York City the past few years. When some asian friends of mine came to visit the city, they were excited to try the ramen here, which is weird because you know, you would think they would go to Japan for the best ramen instead of flying 24 hours to New York for that. I guess my roommate P. Barron says it well with his “you can find the best of everything in New York City. That’s right. The best ramen? Not in Japan. Ceviche? Not in Peru. It’s in the best city in the world, N-Y-C.” (It’s meant to be sarcastic.)
At the top of the ramen food chain is the famous Ippudo and Totto. While people wait in 2-hour lines and argue over which ramen is the best, I prefer to travel up to this little ramen place in Harlem called Jin Ramen. Well technically down in my case since I live on 145th street. Jin Ramen is located on Broadway and 125th street, just below the number 1 train station, on the west side.
I got 3 reasons why I love this place.
1) No lines
That’s right, people. No two hour wait. Getting a table there has never been a problem for me. Unless you have a big party like 6, you will probably get seated immediately. The only time I ever had to wait was about 10 minutes and that was on a friday evening I believe.
2) Japanese music on the background
Alright, fine. I do realize that most japanese places play japanese music, but Jin Ramen plays ANIME music! I got so excited when I heard the soundtrack to my favorite anime playing, like Gundam Seed, Bleach and Naruto. My friends first thought I was crazy when I started talking jibberish, then started being judgmental when they thought it was my racist attempt to speak japaness, but upon realizing that it was anime music, they just labelled me as an asian nerd/geek.
3) And yes, stuff on the menu is good. The ramen as well.
They do serve the usual pork buns and ramen. Normal menu. Nothing special that I know of. Of all the ramen though, the best is probably the spicy tonkotsu. The noodles sometimes are a little too starchy but you will get used to it. I didn’t like it that much the first time I had it, but I’m liking it now. The broth is flavorful (just a tad spicy for those who go for the spicy tonkotsu), like how a ramen broth should be, but not overly salty. My recent visit to Totto ramen has made me realize that there is a certain amount of salt I can take before it makes me sick. Btw stay away from the miso ramen at Totto if you hope to keep your kidneys working, or whatever organ that helps us regulate the sodium in our body… Obviously not a biology major here. Oh and also give the miso ramen at Jin a miss too. While it does look like the most attractive item on the menu, it has too many things going on in a bowl which kinda destroys the flavor.
The pork slices are done really well here too. I swear each time I go there, the pork just taste better. It’s like they are slowly perfecting the art of roasting pork. A little charred. Full of fatty goodness. Lots of satisfied groans.
So perhaps Jin is not as good at Ippudo. Perhaps. But to be honest, Jin is starting to become my favorite ramen place in the city. Even in terms of quality. It has my “5 stars” approval.