Long gone are the days I trek all the way down to East Village and wait for two hours for some nice Japanese ramen noodles and delicious pork buns. Jin Ramen opened up in Harlem right on the corner of 125th and Broadway. Already one of my top three favorites in the neighborhood, I couldn’t wait to share it with others! Although that might be a mistake because once too many find out about it, the wait will be just as long as if I were at Ippudo or the most famous ramen bars in NYC, where the wait could go up to three hours on a random Tuesday night. These types of eateries, knowing their popularity, do not take reservations. All customers are on a first come, first served basis, and those who do not get a table right away, put their names on a list to be called at a later time.
Now if you’ve never been to a good ramen bar before, you’re probably thinking, “what’s the big deal? I can make ramen at home. I just need a quarter, go to the grocery store and voila.” I think you already know this is nonsense, so I will spare you with what my answer would be. Ramen bars serve hand-made noodles in a variety of (heavenly) broths. Their appetizers usually include the super-delicious pork-buns, at least the ones I’ve been to, including Momofuku and Ippudo. If you don’t eat pork, this is the time where I would generally feel bad for you. I wouldn’t judge though because well… more pork buns for me!
My boyfriend and I like sitting right on the counter where we can watch the men cook the good stuff. It’s like a performance involving occasional fires leaping from the stove, lots of shaking, and cutting of various meats and ingredients. They all move along so beautifully together in such a small space, there’s a whole rhythm going on. It sounds strange, but I always thought if bells and other musical instruments were attached to them as they moved, they would probably create the most beautiful music. That’s probably my hungry self thinking though.
I must admit that Jin is not quite Ippudo, but it’s extremely comparable. The space itself is smaller than Ippudo’s which will make it very uncomfortable when they have a long waiting list, especially during the cold seasons. The pork buns, although delicious, are not as soft and do not “melt” in your mouth like those of Ippudo. The service is just as attentive. The noodles are all so delicious and very consistent. I didn’t notice very big difference between the two. They have an awesome happy hour, which you wouldn’t find at Ippudo. Actually after I’ve made these comparisons, I don’t think I will ever go to Ippudo again unless I was already in the East Village, and I walked around 5PM and was able to sit down without having to wait.
Jin (meaning benevolence)- The way to treat each other.
Must try appetizer: Pork bun
Must try noodles: Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen, Miso Ramen
Must try beverage: You would be silly not to order a pitcher of Sapporo