24 Greenwich Ave (between W 10th St and Charles St, West Village)
Fatty Kat Eats: Sauteed Shishito Peppers, Lotus Root, Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna
When news about a new West Village ramen joint made its way to me eager little ears (via Eater and Grubstreet), I put it straight to the top of my wish list. Nothing gets to me like squishy noodles and hot ass broth. I can have it morning, noon, and night; summer or winter; on the street or in a fancy restaurant. Doesn't matter!
Jinya opened approximately 3 weeks ago, and I've already been there 3 times with 3 different people. It's not because the food is out of this world, but it's the only respectable ramen spot in my neighborhood. I still need to try Benkei Ramen! Heard it's a game changer.
So on a hot summer night, I dragged my fatty brother out for some steamy soup noodles. While I was waiting for him, I couldn't help but nibble on some perfectly Sauteed Shishito Peppers seasoned with bonito flakes. These little guys were so damn good--crunchy, soft and sweet.
Jinya has a loaded yakitori section, but we only ordered the Lotus Root. Mmmm! This root vegetable was glazed with soy sauce and other magical things.
Perhaps I was a little too excited about the Homemade Tofu made table side. My expectations were THIS BIG and the tofu fell very flat. The liquid tofu arrived to our table hot and steaming. We were instructed to leave it alone for 5-10 minutes, so we gave it a generous 10 minutes to do its thing. When we finally attacked with our spoons, it was a chalky mess resembling...of all things...vomit. No bueno.
Have you guys ever had Ippudo's pork buns? They are ridiculous as every little bit melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, Jinya's Pork Buns were mediocre at best. The pork wasn't tender enough to pass a standard grade, but the overall package was okay.
The Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna was one of the better things we tried. I love me some crunch, but dare I say this crispy rice was a little too crunchy? The spicy tuna was of higher quality than various St. Mark's sushi restaurants, so that was good news. We enjoyed the overall package, but there was potential for more.
The server and the bartender both recommended the Shrimp Toast. So, as any trusting fatty would, we ordered it. Bad move. This was just an oily shrimp sandwich dipped in a spicy mayo/aioli. Nothing special. Hate wasting space in my belly!
When we both sat down for dinner, it was clear which bowl of ramen we needed to try. The menu basically shines a golden light on the Jinya Tonkatsu Black: 1) it's the most expensive bowl of ramen, 2) it's listed on the top left hand corner of the menu (first thing you look at), and 3) the word "black" makes it sound cool. Both Jon and I really enjoyed it. I consider Ippudo to be my gold standard, and this was no Ippudo ramen. The noodles were very good, but the broth needed some work.
For dessert, we tried the light and creamy Almond Pudding. This isn't the just-add-water almond pudding your cheesy Aunt used to make for dinner parties. This was the real deal. Asians will understand.
We also ordered the Matcha Affogart, which is essentially a green tea ice cream made table side. The server poured a green tea concentrate into a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and voila, foodgasm.
I wouldn't part the sea for this place, but it's a good spot if you happen to be in the neighborhood.