Sherman's Food Adventures: Jinya Ramen Bar (Metrotown)

Jinya Ramen Bar (Metrotown)

TBH, I was not impressed with my first ever visit to Jinya at their original Robson Street location.  Now this was quite some time ago, so things do change and of course, my opinion can change too.  To give you some background, my initial thoughts were that the ramen was okay, but really small in portion size.  Furthermore, with their pricing, it just wasn't worth it in my opinion.  Lastly, their richer broth was not my cup of tea and for some reason, it was pretty salty that day.  Now with the addition of more ramen joints since then, I've warmed up to the heartier broths and have accepted that ramen can not be considered a cheap eat anymore.  With that in mind, I visited the newish Burnaby location at Metrotown.

To start, I ordered 2 of their most popular appies including the Crispy Chicken (Chicken Karaage) and also the Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts.  Actually, I had these 2 before as this was my second visit (I forgot my camera the first time...).  These were so good, I had to order them again!  The 5-piece small order of crispy chicken was actually a decent size and quite filling.  Large and plump, the dark meat was fried up perfectly where the juices were still flowing and the seasoning was just enough.  The side of vinegar soy dip provided an appetizing zing.  Outside, the chicken was crispy and not greasy.  Coated with crispy and light tempura batter, the brussels sprouts were firm, yet cooked all-the-way-through.  Lightly seasoned, these were nice bites and really, even people who hate brussels sprouts would probably like them.

I was pretty hungry, so I selected one of the heartier offerings in the Cha Cha Cha Ramen featuring a rich and fatty pork fish broth with thick noodles, fatty chashu, egg, sprouts, raw onion, green onion, chili powder and of course garlic (also raw garlic on the side).  I found the broth to be silky and rich, but not thick.  It was garlicky and featured fatty floaties throughout.  There was a depth-of-flavour that was meaty but curiously not fishy.  The noodles were chewy and stayed that way until the end.  Egg was perfect being runny while the chashu was buttery soft. The portion size was pretty large and I struggled to finish it.  My son decided on the same one he had last time in the Jinya Tonkotsu Black.  Now this was a much more modest portion with thin noodles and a semi-rich pork broth with wood ear mushroom, green onion, dried seaweed, egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion and a dollop of spicy sauce.  Due to the black garlic oil, the umaminess was maxed out.  Noodles were chewy, but got softer as he ate it.  A good bowl of ramen, but small for the price.

On another visit, we decided to skip the usual gyoza (as we've had it before and it was okay) and go for the Parmesan Meatballs and also the Spicy Prawn Tempura.  If you were thinking we were in the wrong restaurant to order the meatballs, you might have a point, but hey they have it on the menu!  They turned out to be pretty good where we really didn't think it was served from the same kitchen as ramen.  These were moist and meaty while mildly seasoned.  The real flavour came from the tangy tomato sauce as well as the ample amount of freshly grated parm on top.  Incidentally, these seemed to be the same as the ones found in the meatball ramen (minus the tomato sauce of course!).  As for the shrimp, they were a bit small, but barely coated with tempura batter.  Hence, they were not heavy and plenty crispy.  The shrimp itself had a firm meaty snap while spiced with an impactful mayo.

Unlike last time, my son went big with the Goku Midnight Cowboy featuring a really big slice of braised beef brisket atop thick noodles, sprouts, wood ear mushroom, seasoned egg and pork broth (he omitted the green onions this time around).  This was a substantial portion that was almost as big as the Cha Cha Cha.  It was plenty pricey at $24.00, but I'm sure the brisket had something to do with it.  Fatty and almost melt-in-your-mouth tender, the brisket was legit.  The pork broth tasted familiar with a rich silkiness with once again, plenty of fatty floaties.  We thought the salt content was just right where it didn't overwhelm the rest of the ingredients.  For myself, I ordered something I've had before in the Spicy Umami Miso Ramen with pork broth, ground pork soboro, bean sprouts, bok choy, chili oil and thick noodles (no green onion this time around as well).  Again, the broth was slightly thick, balanced salty and sweet while moderately spicy.  The noodles were chewy and the same could be said about the pork, but that was fine.  As you can probably guess, my thoughts on Jinya have changed, yet at the same time I do think it is still overpriced.  Yes, some of the ingredients are deluxe and yes the atmosphere is pretty hip, yet I can eat almost anywhere for the prices they charge

The Good:
- Food was good for all 3 times we went
- Decent service, but sometimes a little slow
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- Pricey
- Broth is pretty fatty (only if you like that kind)

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